Matthew ends his gospel with what has commonly been called The Great Commission. Matthew has continually shown Jesus to be the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies, until the resurrection. Here everything changes and with that change nature resounds. As the Marys sit at the tomb the earth is shaken, lightning struck in the form of an angel, and terror froze the guards. And with that cataclysm, the world was changed.
In the Old Testament, faith revolved around the temple with a centripetal force. The belief was that everything moved in toward the center of the faith, the Temple, like a giant whirlpool. People had to come from far away to Jerusalem to experience God. But with the Resurrection, the tides of the world reversed. No longer did the Temple draw people toward the center like a whirlpool. Now the New Temple, Jesus Himself, sent people out from the center with a centrifugal force unmatched in all of history. Rather than pulling people in to meet with God, Jesus now sent people out, filled with God’s Holy Spirit, so people could interact with God “out there”. No longer were the walls of the temple and the culture built to keep people at a holy distance from God, but now those walls crumbled as God went out to build a holy intimacy with everyone.
And so this Great Commission begins with the word, “Go.” “Go into all the world and make disciples, followers, of all nations.” Don’t kick out the scribes and Pharisees and teach new things in their place in the Temple courts, but instead Go and share the good news of grace found in Jesus Christ. Go, and baptize them into a new relationship with God and with His people. Go and teach them what I taught you, not as a set of rules but as a means to get to know this God who created you. Go with God, even to the end of the age.
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