Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Little Something Extra...The Ascension of the Lord

A Very Important Message

After His Resurrection but before He ascends into Heaven, Jesus gives His apostles a very important message, which is recorded for us in Matthew 28:16-20.

The apostles are meeting with Jesus in Galilee. They see Him there and worship Him, but no matter how much evidence He has given them of His Resurrection, they are still plagued by doubt. The Greek word for “doubted” here is distaz┼Ź. It can also mean wavering or uncertain. The apostles are still not sure what is going on and what they should do about it.

So Jesus tells them. He begins with a reassurance: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” Wow. All the power in heaven and on earth. Jesus is in control, completely, totally, 100% in control and not just on earth but in Heaven, too. Really, this is a statement of Jesus' divinity, an assurance that He is God, for Who else is all-powerful but God Himself? The apostles can trust Him and rely on Him to settle their doubts and give them the strength they need to do whatever He asks.

And Jesus has quite the request! He orders the apostles to go and make disciples of all the nations. They are also to baptize the new disciples in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them everything Jesus has commanded. 

Let's break this down a bit. The apostles must go and make disciples of all the nations. Jesus is sending them out into the whole world, even to the Gentiles. They are to convert people everywhere to Christianity. They are to instruct them in this new way of relating to God and other human beings. They are to convince them to humble themselves, open up to something unique and wonderful, embrace the truth in faith, and follow Jesus. What a task! These simple men of Galilee are about to become world travelers carrying the most important message of all times.

Their mission does not end with convincing people. They must also introduce the sacraments, beginning, of course, with Baptism. Jesus clearly says that the apostles must baptize His new followers in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is the next, logical, necessary step for the one who believes in Christ. Notice, too, that Jesus reveals the trinitarian nature of God in this baptismal formula. 

But the apostles' job is not done yet. After they have led people to faith in Jesus and baptized them in the Name of the Trinity, they have the responsibility of teaching them everything Jesus has commanded. The Greek verb for “commanded” here is entellomai, and it also refers to injunctions and instructions as well as commandments. The apostles, in other words, must pass on the entire teaching of Jesus Christ. This is, of course, a lifelong process for the apostles, for their students, and for every Christian. 

Jesus ends with a word of consolation and encouragement: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” The apostles are not making disciples, baptizing, or teaching on their own. Jesus is with them always. He is the One in control, the One with all the power, the One Who really accomplishes all He asks the apostles to do. 

Jesus is with us, too, just as He always was with His apostles. He gives us the grace and strength we need to do whatever He requests, no matter what our doubts and fears or how impossible our tasks may seem.

No comments:

Post a Comment