In Jesus’ Words: Final Words – The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)

The book of Matthew has taken us on quite a journey.  It is filled with Jesus’ words from his sermons, the stories and parables he told to the crowds, teaching for his disciples, arguments with the Pharisees over the meaning of the law, and many dinner conversations with sinners and tax collectors (Matthew being the most famous tax collector).

From Jesus’ humble beginning in Bethlehem, he taught in the temple, he healed many – a man with leprosy, a paralyzed man, a woman who was bleeding, blind men –  he casts out demons, miraculously turns water into wine, calms the storm, walks on water, clears out the temple from the sellers and money-changers, proclaims to be the Messiah and is crucified on the cross for making this claim, is resurrected and witnessed by many. Jesus was constantly on the move during his ministry, and everywhere he went, crowds followed him. This was not an isolated event in history.

Now we come to the last statement from Jesus before he ascends back into heaven.

~ The Great Commission  Matthew 28:16-20 ~

The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted.

Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 
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 everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Most likely there were more than just the 11 disciples with Jesus, since crowds always followed him. The fact that Matthew says some doubted gives the most credibility and transparency to his writing. Matthew is not trying to cover up facts or push some fake story to us. There will always be people who doubt, but a story like Matthew’s cannot be told in such detail, and during the time these events happened, if it were not true.

Jesus, in his final words to us, confirms the gospel message:

Jesus’ authority:  His humility on earth has ended and He has now been exalted and given all authority in heaven and earth.

Trinity:  He mentions the Trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I am with you:  Just as it was announced in the beginning that the baby Jesus should be named Immanuel, “God with us”, Jesus is still with us to the very end.

If you would like to see how Jesus is shown throughout the entire Bible, go to my menu series on “Christmas Story from Genesis to John“. It has 31 entries, one for each day of the month, showing how Jesus was present with God from the beginning as the promised Savior, and how his life is accurately prophesied throughout the Bible.  I will soon have a downloadable version too.  God Bless!

In Jesus’ Words: Forsaken and the Gift (Matthew 27:45-51)

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land.  About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice. Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?  My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit.
Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.
~ from Matthew 27:45-51

Forsaken.  At this moment, Jesus was abandoned by God. Jesus had been with God from the very beginning, and now he was alone, abandoned, and in despair. Jesus became the sin-bearer for us, carrying all of our sins and those of the entire world, while God poured out his wrath and punishment on sin.  It was far worse than any physical pain and torture he had received – it was the moment Jesus feared the most.  God could not look at his son.  He was forsaken, shamed, and separated from God.  It was the ultimate sacrifice, and for no other reason than the love for his creation.

There is so much to think about from this event and Jesus’ final words before his death:

Jesus has already paid the price for our sins (past, past and future). For those who accept this sacrificial gift, we will not be punished again for any of our sins.  God does not punish twice for the same crime.  Here, Jesus represents the loving, compassionate, and merciful side of God.

But God also hates sin.  It goes against His holy nature.  For those who do not accept Jesus’ sacrifice, God’s wrath will still be on their sins.  People often have difficulty imagining God sending people to hell, especially with the images of devils and fire and torture.  But the reality is, hell is a place where there is complete abandonment of God.  A place where you can no longer call out to God and have any hope of Him responding. It is a place where there are no good characteristics of God available anywhere – of love, compassion, mercy, sacrifice.  Hell is permanent abandonment and separation from God. People sometimes doubt there is any evidence that God is even in our world today, but imagine if you took out all references to God and love and good in our world, what would be the effects then?  Complete lawlessness and chaos and evil without any hope of goodness or love.  And definitely no self-sacrifice.

But why is Jesus the only way?  I would rather ask the question like this… Why would God promise a Savior and then punish and sacrifice his son so much, only to turn around and say, “Well, it doesn’t really matter, there are many ways.”  No other way or religion offers a sacrifice for you.  But just like when someone gives you a gift, you have to accept that gift.  It cannot be forced on you or it is no longer a gift.

Finally, I always get asked this question… What about those before Jesus, or those who have not heard, or places where their culture prevents it?  Jesus came for past, present and future.  He is not time-bound.  Let Jesus deal with those things.  He is the gate-keeper, and His gift is for everyone and He gives everyone a chance to accept.  We should be more concerned about those of us who know better, who have knowledge, and yet have openly rejected his gift.  Once you have been offered a gift and refuse, you may not have another chance to accept.  Others may not have been offered yet.  We are to accept Jesus’ gift of eternal life and fellowship with God, and pass the good news on to others.  This is what Jesus died for, so that we may never have to experience separation from God.

 

In Jesus’ Words: The Rock and the Denier (Matthew 26: 31-35)

I would bet that each of us have been like Peter at least once in our lives.  Before Peter became the Rock, which was the name Jesus promised him earlier, he was the Denier.  It was probably the lowest point in Peter’s life.  He was in agony over what he had done.  He denied his friend and Lord when Jesus needed him most.  In his mind, he had failed.  Thankfully for all of us, Peter didn’t stay that way.  And neither should we.

As I read this story where Jesus predicts that Peter will deny Him, a few thoughts crossed my mind.

Jesus never stopped loving Peter even as He told Peter what he was about to do, even in His greatest hour of need.  How many times have we failed someone when they needed us?  Jesus understands our human nature and He still loves us.  He can still use us.

Interestingly, after Jesus tells the disciples that they will fall away, He tells them, “after he is resurrected, He will meet them in Galilee.”  Did they not catch that part?  Jesus is telling them He will be resurrected and plans to see them again, but they’re so obsessed over telling Jesus they will never run away from Him that they don’t see the future.  How often are we preoccupied over something we did and miss Jesus’ most important words – words of hope and the future?

Jesus knows knows we all fail from time-to-time.  That is why Jesus came.  We need a Savior – someone who can help us when we can’t help ourselves.  Jesus came to save (future), not condemn (past).  Stop looking back, stop focusing on what went wrong, and look at what Jesus is saying.  He wants to lead you forward, not backward.

~ Peter’s Denial Predicted  Matthew 26:31-35  ~

Then Jesus said to them, “Tonight all of you will run away because of Me, for it is written:

I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.

But after I have been resurrected, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

Peter told Him, “Even if everyone runs away because of You, I will never run away!”

“I assure you,” Jesus said to him, “tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times!”

“Even if I have to die with You,” Peter told Him, “I will never deny You!” And all the disciples said the same thing.

In Jesus’ Words: Free Will and Hope – the Betrayal at Passover (Matthew 26:17-25)

People often ask, “Why does God allow evil?”  It could also be asked another way, “Why does God allow people to do evil when He knows ahead of time what people will choose and the outcome of their choices?”  And if a person says they do not believe God knows everything ahead of time, then they would be saying God is not all-knowing and not in control.  I don’t think any of us want to believe or follow a God who is not in control or who can be caught by surprise.  So then the question becomes “Why does an all-knowing and in-control God still allow us to do evil?

The standard answer is usually “free will”, but I believe it’s more than just that.  Free will by itself does not guarantee anything or carry any hope.  It just means you are free to make your own choices, but not necessarily that anyone cares about your choices.  But the all-knowing, in-control God is also a God of mercy, forgiveness, and grace.  God gives everyone a chance – many chances – to do the right thing, to change their hearts, sometimes even to their last dying breath, no matter what they have done in their past.

This is why God allows our actions and choices.  He never gives up hope on any of us that we can change and choose Him.  And that is why in this next story of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, even he was given a chance though Jesus knowingly could have prevented his actions.

~ Matthew 26:17-25  The Betrayal of Jesus at Passover ~

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover so You may eat it?”

“Go into the city to a certain man,” He said, “and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time is near; I am celebrating the Passover at your place with My disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, He was reclining at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, He said, “I assure you: One of you will betray Me.”

Deeply distressed, each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?”

He replied, “The one who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl—he will betray Me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Then Judas, His betrayer, replied, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”

“You have said it,” He told him.

In Jesus’ Words: The Olivet Discourse (End Times Part 2) – Two different statements

 

“I assure you: I do not know you!”

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Which would you rather hear? 

 

 

Jesus tells us two parables about the end times in the second part of his speech known as the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24-25.  Jesus delivers this speech on the Mount of Olives at the end of his ministry, and it is considered to be some of the most prophetic messages of the entire Bible.  It is not from Revelations, which is controversial to some, but this comes directly from Jesus.  Two parables are told; both with very different statements on the outcomes.  There doesn’t seem to be any room in the middle.  God is not a grey area, and the Bible and Jesus give us all the information we need to know about Heaven and end times.

~ Matthew 25: 1-30  Part 2 of Olivet Discourse – Parables about End Times ~

The Parable of the 10 Virgins

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom.  Five of them were foolish and five were sensible.  When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take olive oil with them.  But the sensible ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps.  Since the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’

“Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.  But the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’

“The sensible ones answered, ‘No, there won’t be enough for us and for you. Go instead to those who sell, and buy oil for yourselves.’

“When they had gone to buy some, the groom arrived. Then those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut.

“Later the rest of the virgins also came and said, ‘Master, master, open up for us!’

“But he replied, ‘I assure you: I do not know you!’

“Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour.

The Parable of the Talents

“For it is just like a man going on a journey. He called his own servants and turned over his possessions to them.  To one he gave five talents; to another, two; and to another, one—to each according to his own ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately  the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more.  In the same way the man with two earned two more. But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five talents approached, presented five more talents, and said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. Look, I’ve earned five more talents.’

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’

“Then the man with two talents also approached. He said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. Look, I’ve earned two more talents.’

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’

“Then the man who had received one talent also approached and said, ‘Master, I know you. You’re a difficult man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. Look, you have what is yours.’

“But his master replied to him, ‘You evil, lazy servant! If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with the bankers. And when I returned I would have received my money back with interest.

“‘So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10 talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

*If you are interested in knowing more about who Jesus really is, or how you can have Jesus as a personal friend and Savior for your life, check out the Jesus Booklet series from Godlife.com.