Many Christians today find themselves confused on how to live a Christian life. What does it mean to be Christian? What are we supposed to do? You are to do many things once you are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. One of them is found in Matthew. Matthew 28:16-20 is the great commission. There are a lot of parts to the great commission that need to be evaluated. First, in verse 16 it says “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.” Notice that here we only have eleven disciples because Judas betrayed Jesus and hanged himself. So here we see that the writer of Matthew purposely did this to give us a sort of symbolic view. There are 12 disciples and with 11, it is incomplete. In comparison, there are 12 tribes of Israel, and with 11, it is incomplete. So Jesus leaves us here on this earth, with the uncompleted number 11 so that we may come in and accomplish what he wants us to do, and that is baptizing and teaching so that we may reach that completed number. We also see from this verse that He goes up on a mountain. And we know that when Jesus goes up on mountains, good things happen. For example, the transfiguration, the famous Sermon on the Mount, the crucifixion on Mount Calvary, and in Revelation, the next time we will see Jesus is on Mount Zion, which is Heaven. So we know for a fact that whenever Jesus goes up on mountains, we should be listening very carefully because he will be doing something outstanding. This is also what the disciples are probably thinking at this time. In verse 17, we get this picture that some of the disciples were worshipping and doubting. So although sometimes when even I worship, I doubt. I doubt that the Real Presence of Jesus is in Communion? NAH! It’s too illogical right? Although illogical, I still need to take the Word of God and what it says over what I think is logical. God knows a lot more than I do, so I trust Him and take Him at His Word. Although sometimes we doubt, we should not let our doubts keep us from the grace of God this is offered in the Word and Sacraments. In verse 18, Jesus came up to them. I think this is a cool concept because although the disciples were there, they probably weren’t looking real hard for Jesus, but instead Jesus seeks them out. This is a big Lutheran theological concept that we are sinners and cannot find and accept God but instead He continually comes down into our lives and makes us worthy. Now getting into verse 19 and 20 it says “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.” Now some Christian denominations disagree with this concept of “making disciples”. The command of Jesus here was to make disciples. And so usually after commands comes instructions on how to do that command, which is what Jesus has for us here. However, we cannot look at the part after the command and say this happens before this so we have to do the baptizing first, then the teaching. The words baptizing and teaching are present participles, so there is no technical order to them. Also, there is no word “and” in between the baptizing and teaching in the Greek which makes the actions interchangeable. So it doesn’t matter if you teach first, or baptize first, no matter what you are still fulfilling that command that Jesus gave us in making disciples. It is different between an adult and an infant because an infant is baptized into a life of teaching and an adult is taught and out of that teaching comes baptism and then the teaching is continued. So no matter what situation, the command is being fulfilled, and by the instructions that Jesus gave us in baptizing and teaching. In verse 20, Jesus says the comforting words “I am with you always even to the end of the age.” The words “I am with you” in Greek actually have the word order of “I you am with” which safely places us between “I am” which is God.
There will be furthur explanation to the salvific act of baptism in a furthur blog.