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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE GREAT COMMISSION

Matt 28:16-20 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

As the lesson begins, we find the eleven remaining apostles, having left Judea and the city of Jerusalem, going into the province of Galilee. This was a direct instruction of Jesus to His apostles the day before His crucifixion (Matt. 26:32). It was also His indirect instruction after his death, burial, and resurrection, through angels of God and the devoted women who faithfully followed Him (See Matt. 28:5-10). Although the mountain they were to meet Him may have been specifically designated by Jesus, its name and exact location is not known. Some speculate that it was the Mount of the Beatitudes, since it is the mountain nearest the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee), where they had met Jesus on a previous occasion (See John 21:1ff).

Nevertheless, into this mountain they came as directed by Jesus, and there they met Him. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted. The fact that His apostles worshipped Him as the risen Savior is easily understood, since He appeared to all eleven, and clearly evidenced His crucifixion by the nail and spear wounds that were clearly visible on His hands, feet, and side. What has been difficult to understand throughout the ages is the fact that still some remained doubtful. Some bible scholars contend that other disciples were present at this time. For instance the above five hundred brethren mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:6 could very well have been present on this occasion. Some speculate that Jesus was referring to the past doubt of His resurrection that all eleven had experienced in prior times. Others even said that Jesus was approaching them at this time and, in the distance, they doubted that it was Him.

First of all, after reviewing these scriptures, and in my humble opinion, it seems that only the eleven were told by Jesus to meet Him in a certain mountain in Galilee. Therefore, it is extremely doubtful if other disciples were present on this occasion. Secondly, by proving Himself to be the risen Savior, there could be no doubt among His apostles regarding His resurrection. Thirdly, if they recognized Him enough to worship Him, certainly there was no doubt as to who He was. The doubt that still remained with the eleven was the true design and extent of the kingdom of Jesus Christ that still had not been clarified to them. We know at this time that there still remained the thoughts that Jesus was to set up an earthly kingdom, He would ascend to the throne of David, and He would rule over the nation of Israel forever. This fact Jesus does not reveal in the following text verse, but gives them enough information about His kingdom that, when fully revealed, they would believe without any doubt. On this occasion He told them, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. The power Jesus was destined to assume was given unto Him - He did not inherent it, nro was it originated by Him. In various scriptures we know that this power in heaven and in earth was given to Him by God, His Heavenly Father (See Psa. 89:27; 110:1-3; Isa. 9:6-7; Dan. 7:14; Matt. 11:27; Luke 1:32-33; John 3:35; 5:22-27; 17:2). Indeed, it was the nature of His kingdom that had not been fully revealed to them, of which they had doubt.

The most important commandment ever uttered, at that time and forever, Jesus imparted to His apostles on this occasion, has been given by the descriptive title of "The Great Commission." It is true that He gave His apostles another similar commandment, but it was limited to the Jewish nation - the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and the message was also limited - they were to preach, The kingdom of heaven is at hand (See Matt. 10:1-15). Here Jesus gave them "The Great Commission" with this commandment: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Mark added the necessity of belief. By inspiration he wrote, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:15-16).

This commission was great because it was to be preached, not only to the Jewish nation, but to all nations, and to every creature (human being) within each nation. It was great because it was the message that, if believed and obeyed, would bring eternal salvation, and if not believed, would result in eternal damnation. It was great because it was God's final call to all people of the world to come and obey His will - there will not be an additional call in the future - no future opportunity to come to Him and enjoy eternal life. It wasgreatbecause it was finally the culmination of God's plan of eternal salvation for mankind, through His Son, Jesus Christ, that originated in His mind before the beginning of time.

Looking forward we find Jesus' commandment obediently followed by His apostles. The message contained in "The Great Commission" was extended, first to the Jewish nation on the Day of Pentecost following the resurrection and return to heaven of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Later, at God's appointed time, eternal salvation was extended to the entire world. But on this Jewish holy day, Peter, as well as all other apostles, would preach God's message of salvation to all gathered on this holy day, and it would be preached in every language known by those attending. All heard this gospel call: Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 3:38-39). The result was, they that gladly received His word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41). And afterwards, the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:47). To this only one word is to be added: Amen.