Matthew 28:16-20 (NRSV)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore 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 that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Devotion – What About Doubting?
The three-word phrase hit me like the unwelcome shock of an icy shower at 6:00am (with apologies to my late grandfather and any others addicted to this bizarre brand of torture!): “but some doubted.” Indeed, the other Gospels make ample reference to “doubting” as Jesus appears to the disciples in different settings after his Resurrection, including the moving story of Thomas in the Gospel of John. But something in Matthew’s words jolted me. Was it the brevity? The finality? Or perhaps even the anger of the words, which seem to brook no further discussion?
Matthew follows up with Jesus’ own words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me!” This restatement seems intended to shut down once and for all any remaining talk of doubt. It was pointless and a waste of precious time, now that the Kingdom of God was at hand! Besides, Jesus was anxious to get to the most important item on his agenda: the commissioning of the eleven. “Go therefore 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 everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
What an astonishing blueprint Jesus has left for us! For it seems to me that Jesus is speaking to us across the ages just as surely as he was speaking to the eleven on that mountain in Galilee two thousand years ago. And this remarkable commission – barely two verses – leaves nothing out. If you question the validity of my thesis, take a short inventory of your multi-faceted life and judge for yourself if any aspect is untouched by Jesus’ words. Your giving, your living, your concern for your fellow human beings – Christian or not – it’s all there. Amazing!
So what are we waiting for? Or more to the point, what’s holding us back? Inertia? Procrastination? A puzzling level of indifference? Perhaps all of the above. But I suspect that at its core it goes back to Matthew’s words: “But some doubted.”
And it need not be overt doubt which, if acknowledged, might threaten the very foundations of our Christian faith. No, instead we cloak it in respectable terms that can assuage our conscience. What is required then is a conscious decision on our part to take that fateful step forward. A scary step to be sure, but one that promises to liberate us for the fullness of life promised by Christ Jesus our Lord!
Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home. Amen.