Interesting how we read things into this text that aren’t there – Matthew never mentions the ascension.
I am getting some reaction to part 2 about this text that are interesting.
“Evidently the Apostles didn’t get the memo that they were to stay home and not go on missionary journeys to the ends of the earth!”, writes one reader.
Well memos can be tricky things but they were there to get a message from the resurrected Christ that he had authority over all things and that they were to make disciples by teaching and baptizing wherever they were.
Another comment –
“When you look at it with the emphasis on Disciplining (sic) we can paraphrase the great commission like this.
“Go, while your going, disciple, while your disciplining, baptize, while your baptizing teach. finally if you have any concerns about doing any of this, you don’t need to be, because I’m with you always to the end.”
Blessings as you disciple today.”
I like that. Still the verb “go” has been argued about for a long but the sense it has in this passage is “upon having gone” and conveys the concept of being sent like a military person might be. You are deployed somewhere and while at that place you disciple.
Calling Matthew 28 a “commission” as we said implies an imperative on the going that is not there. It takes us out of the realm of the Gospel to that of Law. It confuses the churches mission and gives an independent character to “mission” that is unwarranted. I am terrified of the number of people that I meet who woke up one morning and simply decided to get on an airplane and go and start a mission. Even Paul and Barnabas waited for “the church” to “ok” their efforts. It gives the impression that the first part of the statement – that Jesus has all authority, is somehow in danger if the disciples don’t go, as if His Lordship is dependent upon others knowing it rather than an absolute fact in itself. Some have gone so far as to say that Matthew 28 is a creative statement like Genesis 1:3 – “let there be….” but it became thanks to William Carey a passage that laid upon Christians a great burden.
By the end of the nineteenth century Matthew 28:18–20 had completely superseded other verses from Scripture as principal “mission text.” Now the emphasis was unequivocally on obedience. The great Dutch theologian of the period, Abraham Kuyper, stated, “All mission flows from God’s sovereignty, not from God’s love or compassion.” (David Bosch, “Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission”.