Friday of the Week of Lent III
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Genesis 49:1–28; Psalm 64; Matthew 28:1–20
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2B8e5CY
With these words of Jesus, the Gospel of Matthew comes to a close. We will meditate on Easter when we come to Holy Week. For the time being, we have the so-called “Great Commission,” in which Jesus sends his followers forth to be disciples and to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Holy Name of the Trinity, teaching them to observe all that he has commanded.
Two aspects are worth noting: Jesus has the authority to commission his followers in this way, and he doesn’t send us out alone. He promises to be with us as we go, to be with us always! What encouragement this gives, because we know Jesus speaks with the Father’s own power and authority and we know that Jesus walks alongside us.
We discuss the Great Commission in the NALC as “Life to Life.” Because Jesus is with us, we walk alongside others. We invest in others, life to life. Discipleship happens in no other way. It is all about relationships; it is personal; it is person to person. Because God chooses to be “God with us,” we are called to be with others. This is the proverbial “meaning of life,” to be a disciple and follower of Jesus and to make disciples—bearing good fruit for the Lord!
Without a doubt, this is a challenge for Christians used to a more institutional understanding of the church. Many of us were raised thinking our task was to get more members for the organizational church so that new members would help carry the financial load and help to maintain the church building. It requires a seismic shift in thinking to give up that notion and embrace the Great Commission and Jesus’ intention that we be disciple-makers! Could that seismic shift in thinking take place, in us, as we observe Jesus’ death and resurrection? Might that be the earth-shaking, earth-shattering transformation that he intends as we observe Lent, Holy Week and Easter again this year? We pray that it might be so!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, make of me a disciple and a follower! And help me become a disciple-maker, teaching all that you have commanded! Amen.
Lenten Response: Learn more about the NALC’s Life to Life Discipleship initiative on the website, www.thenalc.org. Is there a way you can respond more fully to the Great Commission?
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.