November 19, 2017

Appearances of the Risen Christ, 11

By Chaplain Mike

We are marking the Great Fifty Days of Easter with a series of devotional thoughts on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.

Today we look at the final narrative in Matthew’s story of Jesus’ resurrection and appearances, from Matthew 28:16-20 (NRSV).

Text

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Thoughts

Moses, the one God saved from death as a child at the hands of Pharoah, grew up and brought God’s people out of slavery in Egypt to journey to their home in the Promised Land.

Guided by God through the wilderness, and arriving at Mt. Sinai, Moses ascended the mountain to meet with God.

Moses descended from the mountain with God’s laws of the covenant, laws that were intended to set Israel apart from the nations and make them a light to the world.

The Torah of Moses, consisting of five books of messages (the Pentateuch), set forth the story of faith in which God’s people were to live.

At the end of his life, Moses climbed Mt. Pisgah to view the Promised Land, and laid his hands on Joshua, ordaining him to carry on the divine mission:

Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses. (Deut 34:9)

In Matthew, we meet Jesus, the new Moses, the new covenant Lawgiver.

Spared from death at the hands of an evil ruler as a child, God brought Jesus safely out of Egypt to journey to his home in the Promised Land.

God provided for him and protected him in the wilderness.

Jesus set forth his laws in a Sermon on the Mountain, teachings designed to show the people of the new covenant what it means to be the light of the world.

Matthew records five discourses of Jesus (Matt 5-7, 10, 13, 18, 23-25), messages that set forth the teachings of faith in which his disciples are to live.

At the end of his earthly journey, Jesus climbed a mountain and commissioned his followers to carry on his mission:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)

The mission Moses could not fulfill through a covenant of law Jesus fulfilled through his own death and resurrection, which enacted his covenant of grace. The mountain of incomplete hopes (Mt. Pisgah) is superseded by the mountain in Galilee on which Jesus’ finished work is celebrated. Moses sent his people into the Promised Land under Joshua, and then died. Jesus sent his people into all the world under the apostles with the promise of his own authority and presence, and then ascended to heaven.

Prayer

Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called me to your service, make me worthy of your calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(Prayer appointed for the week from The Divine Hours)