The Third Sunday after Easter
May 8, 2022
(First in a Series)
Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV) “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, 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 passage from the last chapter of Matthew contains words familiar to Christians about the power and authority of Jesus, about Jesus’ command to baptize, and Jesus assurance that he will be with us “alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20 (KJV)
Matthew calls “the eleven” “disciples”. He uses the specific Greek word for “disciple” about 75 times but uses the Greek word for “apostle” only once, when in chapter 10 he names the 12 apostles. Disciple is a broad word used for a follower, one who believes and follows the teachings of Jesus.
The word apostle is much more specific, referring to the 12. The word refers to being a messenger, to one who is sent out. Later in the New Testament it is used a little more broadly, referring to others who were specifically called and sent to proclaim the Gospel, not only those 12 specifically called by Jesus himself. Of course, now, after Judas Iscariot’s suicide, there are only “the eleven”. Not every follower of Jesus was an apostle, but all are disciples.
Their command is to go and “make disciples” – using the same word Matthew uses for themselves, perhaps more familiarly to “teach all nations" as we read in the King James Version. Some people have claimed that “disciples” is some kind of higher level of believers than ‘plain old believers’. But every Christian, every believer, every ‘plain old believer’ is a “disciple”, a follower of Jesus. And as such every Christian, every believer, every member of the Holy Christian Church is to be a witness for Christ, to teach others.
Lord, make us faithful disciples!
O Lord, favorably receive the prayers of all thy people and guide us to be your witnesses, your disciples, your missionaries, so that all men may receive the Gospel of salvation, repent and come into the way of everlasting life. This we ask through that same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen