September 26, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will a person die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love for us by this truth: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5.6-8)
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I AM is with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28.18-20)
The focus of empowerment sometimes associated with any discussion on this passage of the “Great Commission” declares the passing on of the authority of Jesus to the disciples as their legacy. As is my usual focus on embracing an understanding of scripture, I go back and capture the first and last of a pericope and establish the boundaries around the core teaching. I saw this again as I reread the passage from Matthew when Jesus revealed Himself in the body to the disciples one last time. It is the true authority which had been given Jesus to conduct His Father’s business on earth as it is in Heaven that is in evidence. It was not earned, though He gave His life in obedience to the Father. It was granted to Him, or better it was credited to Him, as faith by faith in God, His Father, Yahweh Elohim. It was conferred on Him as the consequence of accomplishing and meeting the expectation which was established by God for His life. We dare not even consider it as “owed” to Him. God does not owe any of us anything except to be God who is faithful to His promise to love us for better or worse. Justice and justification are in His hands balanced with mercy and grace along with spirit and truth. If we are looking at that statement, we might see the Trinity fully engaged “God the Son, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit.” From beginning to end it is all about God. Even in Jesus’ closing words we see that theme reiterated as He said “Remember, I AM with you always.” It is the promise of Immanuel, God with us, which Jesus bestows on the disciples to encourage and support their non-negotiable mission on earth.
It is because Jesus has been given the authority and permission to exercise that authority by which He then gives the disciples their marching orders. It is their commencement exercise there on Mount Tabor, the Mount of Transfiguration. It is the beginning of the true, and only true, New Age. There have been many pretenders of “new ages” and “new agers,” but there is only one just as there is only One True God. He confers on Jesus the title of Christ. Jesus confers the identity of followers of Christ as disciples and apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, healers, administrators, shepherds and gospel-tellers. There is little question as to the chain of command which then reminds us of Jesus’ teaching about “you will see angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” In apocalyptic literature, “angels” are the messengers and leaders of the communities of faith. They gain their knowledge and authority from above and share it on earth so that God’s will be done authoritatively as no other will do. Jesus stated, “I do not act on My own but do the will of the One who has sent me.” And we respond with confidence as did Moses when a similar situation happened in his life because we “go out” in the name of the One who has sent us. For Moses it was “Yahweh Elohim” as God spoke directly to him in the theophany of a burning bush that was not consumed by fire. For the disciples it was “Jesus the Christ of God” as He spoke directly to them in the theophany of His doxa soma, the glory body, of resurrection showing that He, too, was not consumed by death. Neither, then, were the disciples on whom the fire of God’s Spirit rested consumed but became living sacrifices and powerful witnesses. And it was promised the blessing would remain on them all the days of their lives to the close of the age remembering they walked on holy and sanctified ground with a holy and sanctified purpose.
Even now, as I hear that teaching and allow it to speak to me, I recognize the sad consequence of what happened in the life of Moses when his faithfulness waned and he acted upon his own will over and against the will of God. We would do well to remember that he was not allowed to lead the people of God into the Promised Land on this earth. He would be able to see them from a distance and know that he was this close to fulfilling His mission. In the end, as in the beginning, God has the final word. We would do well to remember that and heed our commencement as disciples of Christ, our commissioning as disciples of Christ and our calling to be like Christ more and more each day until we reach the full measure and stature of Christ who is the head of the body of faith, the One True Community of God’s people.
Father, we are reminded that we are under authority and made responsible for our actions with one another before You. You have called us into serious business- sharing the good news of great joy which is for all people. May the words of our mouths, the meditations of our hearts and the works of our hands be acceptable to You and bring fruitfulness and glory to the Name that is above all names- Jesus. It is in His name we live, pray and serve. AMEN.