This is the last day of Matthew’s gospel; praise God for His holy Word. Tomorrow we resume readings from the Old Testament, where we left off before Lent. May God give us a hunger to read and know his Word, to the glory of his name.
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
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.”
This is the end of Matthew’s gospel, and this passage contains words of joy as well as sorrow. Sorrow in the plan devised to spread false news, as if the resurrection had not happened. Sorrow that when the eleven disciples went to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus told them to go, some harbored doubt rather than being filled with praise.
And yet, despite some having doubts, the eleven were obedient to go to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus told them. Jesus was there and they worshiped him, despite some who had doubts. Then what a high point to end his gospel, sharing Jesus’ words, commissioning them to continue his work. Jesus has all authority, so he told them to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And the supreme joy? Jesus’ words that, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We haven’t gone too far from the situation at the close of this gospel. Some still spread lies and deception about the gospel. Some doubt. Some obey Jesus, even worship him. Some experience the power of Jesus’ presence. The gospel is preached and disciples are baptized. But this is no automatic process, despite the resurrection. We choose to accept or reject our Savior. We choose whether to worship in faith or to harbor doubt. Jesus has promised to be with us, but it is for us to decide whether we will listen and obey. May God help us choose faith, today and always.
We praise you, dear God, for your Word, given to us through faithful disciples like Matthew who were careful to record the healings, teachings, miracles and work of Jesus on the cross for our sake. We pray for the faith to follow your Word, to praise you for Christ’s presence, and to live in ways that allow others to come to worship you. Help us choose faith, obedience and praise all the days of our life, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.