But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:16-20 (emphasis added)
These are the final words of Matthew’s Gospel. The scene occurs after Jesus was raised from the dead, during the forty days before He ascended into heaven. The reference to “eleven disciples” alludes to the suicide of Judas Iscariot, who would later be replaced by Matthias (Acts 1:15-26). This encounter with the resurrected Jesus was one of many that the disciples had. As it says in the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles:
To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
– Acts 1:3
Matthew’s account demonstrates why “many convincing proofs” over “a period of forty days” were necessary: specifically, that in any given appearance, some could doubt. Jesus’ goal was to erase doubt, especially among the apostles. They had important work to do as emphasized in Matthew’s account: to “make disciples of all the nations.” Therefore, Jesus made multiple appearances in varied settings. Matthew is telling us about one of them, which likely took place at or near the end of that period.
Our focus the last couple of days has been on what it means to be a “disciple,” and that it involves “discipline.” We cannot be true followers of Jesus without being disciples who are being disciplined. As we’ve learned, this means abiding in His word – as Mary the sister of Martha did, sitting quietly at His feet and thinking hard about the things He’s said to us. Yes, we can learn things through the “hard knocks” of life, but Jesus would rather we embrace the attitude that “a word to the wise is sufficient.”
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, help me learn in these daily quiet devotions to Your word what would be painful to learn through hard knocks…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)