Matthew 28:16-20 (Part 2) – Like Seeing An Old Friend You Haven’t Seen In Years…

Posted: May 9, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 28:16-20 (Part 2)

Jesus Gives the Great Commission

 

Have you ever met someone that you had not seen in a while, like maybe a friend from high school that you have not seen since graduation? You can hardly believe your eyes and then as they draw closer, you become convinced and you speak to them and, yes, it is that person. You then proceed to speak to each other about what all has happened since high school and relive some of the good times and then discuss how you ended up losing touch with each other. Friendships can be restored in such ways. Life happens and people drift apart and never see each other again. Sometimes, in these situations, it can be a friendship rekindled. In others, there are promises to stay in touch, but the chance meeting becomes a blip on the radar because there are no natural connections between the two people anymore. With old friendships like this, you have to be intentional about making the renewed friendship last beyond the chance meeting. Seeing an old friend for the first time in years is kind of how I picture this meeting. The disciples are probably of the mind, ok, these crazy women from our group say that Jesus wants to meet us in Galilee and we will go just to shut them up but we aren’t expecting to see Jesus for real, but are shocked to find out that the girls aren’t crazy. That feeling you get when you see that old friend. You can believe your eyes and you sheepishly call out their name. Let’s read this passage again today and look closely at v. 17:

 

 

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

Although this was no chance meeting between Jesus and the disciples, in Matthew’s version of the post-resurrection events, this passage reflects his only mention of Jesus meeting with the disciples. From the other gospels, we know that there were more than just this one meeting and that there were many doubters among the disciples when they first heard the news of the resurrection. It was not until they see their old friend, Jesus, that the story of the resurrection begins to germinate in their minds. Some struggle believing that it is actually Him while some immediately bow down and worship because they are just so incredibly blown away. Let’s think about what they must have been feeling.

 

First, there must have been a great deal of embarrassment on their part. They completely threw Jesus under the bus the last time they were together. All of them had denied either in words or by their actions that they even knew Jesus. They all bolted. Maybe, it’s like seeing that old friend from high school and the reason that you have not spoken over the years is because of something that went wrong between you two your senior year, some type of betrayal, some type of conflict. Then after years you run into them and you feel embarrassed for having hurt this other person and even more embarrassed for not having spoken to them over the years. I bet the disciples had been feeling a lot of self-loathing for all their bravado about saying they would die for Jesus but each one had abandoned Him when it counted. Then, they have to face Jesus now. Face to face with the man they betrayed. I am sure that they were wondering how their Master was going to deal with them. But we see from the first half of the next verse that Jesus came to them. Jesus could have condemned them from a distance but He choses to come closer. I think that the first half of the next verse is significant when it says, “then Jesus came to them…” Jesus can righteously judge us all but He choses to continue to love us despite our mistakes, despite the ways that we throw Him under the bus at times. He desires our worship. He desires us to see and be embarrassed by the fact that we have not honored Him and bow down before Him and worship Him with a contrite heart and just throw ourselves down before Him. He will come to us ready to restore us. Repentance is key. We must bow down before Christ in an act of a contrite request for mercy. We must be able to realize that we have no explanation, no justification before Jesus for our sins, nothing other than to throw ourselves down before Him, begging for mercy. He will come to us.

 

Second, they must have had doubts! Was this really Jesus? Can it really be Him? This would circumvent all laws of nature. Were they collectively having some vision of a ghost? They could not believe their eyes. Those women were not crazy. We are seeing Jesus too. But they cannot believe their eyes. For us it is like seeing that person we have not seen for many years from a distance or it was like me several years ago at the Firehouse Subs restaurant here in my town. There was this guy who walks in with his boys and he looks exactly like Dabo Swinney, the head coach of my favorite college football team, the Clemson Tigers. Naw! That can’t be him! For real, it was him and I got pictures to prove it. He was in town for a baseball tournament. His boys were on a summer league team that was playing in a tournament at the major baseball/softball complex that we have here in town. At first, there was incredulity and then there was acceptance. The disciples were like us. Even though Jesus had told them that He was going to be raised from the dead, they did not really believe it and even with Jesus standing in front of them in the distance it was still hard to believe that it was actually Jesus! They had doubts, but they were there. They could not believe it but they were there. They wanted to believe it so they came. We are that way sometimes when we are on our way to Christ. We want to believe, but it’s hard. We want to believe that He is the Son of God but it is hard to get past all our earthly understandings of the laws of nature and all this miracle and resurrection stuff. Jesus will come to you. He will break down your doubts. He will come closer to you. All you have to consider is the possibility that there is a God that loves us so much that He entered human history so that He could reconcile us to Him. Can you consider the possibility that there is something far greater than ourselves, that there is something far greater than this temporal plain on which we exist. If you can grasp that, then can you consider that He is an active God that cares for His creation and is willing to break into human history and participate in it. Then you can consider Jesus Christ. He will come to you and show you that you are a sinner by nature and that it is a not a weight and measures game of good deeds vs. bad deeds and that you are eternally lost without His sacrifice on the cross. When you consider that truth, then this Jesus before that has alluded your grasp before, will come to you. This Jesus desires to cut through your pride that leads you to disbelief in the necessity of the Jesus before you. He will come to you when you are ready to see Him. He will come closer and become more real as you drop your pride of your self-determined destiny. He will come closer. When you realize that you need Him. He will come closer. He will come into greater focus and you will no longer see him as legend but as the real resurrected Lord and Savior.

 

My prayer is that if you do not know Jesus, if you have doubts about Jesus, remember that His own disciples doubted Him on more than one occasion but He still came to them. He still loved them. When we take a chance on believing that there is really a God out there and that He really cared enough to send His Son. When we consider the reasons that He would send His Son and we realize that we are completely tainted by our sins and there is no amount of good deeds that we can do to make up for our sins, then Jesus will come into clearer focus for you. He is waiting for you to get beyond the blindness of your pride and doubt and see Him. He will come closer. He is waiting for you to see Him. Amen and Amen.

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