We have been following along with Matthew since just before Christmas. This week we reach the end of his story. Though perhaps the beginning of another????
The reading this week is here
Text this Week links related to the passage are here.
How do you end the story of Jesus of Nazareth? How do you transition into the life of the church? (Though arguably the entire content of each Gospel is shaped by that writer’s experience of the church already.)
I like the way that the Working Preacher Commentary addresses that question, pointing out how each of the 4 chooses to end the story. I also like how Barreto links this ending to Matthew’s overall Gospel. The end of a book should serve as a summary statement after all. Right?
So as people who have experienced the Risen Christ what do we do next? WE share the story. We go out and tell what God has done. And in the process we invite people to join the community. We go out to widen the community, to bring more people in to the fold, to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
No wonder this passage is referred to as the Great Commissioning.
It does strike me that some of us have a challenge with these marching orders. After all they sound so…evangelical. Which of course they are. And some of our church communities are so terribly uncomfortable (for a variety of reasons) seeing ourselves as evangelists.
Still that is what Matthew challenges us to do. Go out and be evangelical. Go out and share. Go out and make disciples.
Can we do that?
Well maybe we are not sure. Maybe we are afraid. Maybe we are worried about seeming “pushy”. Maybe we think this is just beyond us. Well Matthew’s last words offer the cure for that as well: ” remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age”. In a Gospel tradition that does not have a Pentecost story this is the closest we get to the bestowing of the Spirit. And it is a word of great comfort. The Gospel began (well after the genealogy) the announcement of the birth of Emmanuel…God-With-Us. The Gospel ends with the promise that the Risen Christ will continue to be with us.
That should help us live out the commission to teach and preach and baptize.