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April 13, 2011 / Daniel

Easter and the Great Commission

Orthodox Icon of Jesus of Navi (Joshua)

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In a couple of weeks, I have the privilege to preach at our church’s Sonrise Service.  So I’ve been studying Matthew 28 and I thought that I would post a few brief thoughts on the passage.

Matthew 28 is a familiar text to most people for at least a couple of reasons.  1) It tells the story of the resurrection.  2) It tells the story of the Great Commission.  What’s the connection between these two stories?  What links  Easter to the Commission?  Why did Matthew choose to tell the story in this way?

It’s because the resurrection summons us to a mission.  The resurrected Jesus has given His people a job to do, a task to complete, a mission to accomplish.  And that is, to make disciples of all nations.

All throughout the gospel of Matthew, Jesus has been proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven is approaching (4:17).  It’s near.  The resurrection is proof that Jesus has indeed inaugurated God’s kingdom project.   “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (28:18).   In the backdrop of this verse, we have an allusion to Daniel 7:13-14, where the Son of Man approaches the Ancient of Days and is given all authority and dominion and power to establish God’s kingdom.  And yet, with the resurrection of Christ, the kingdom has only been inaugurated.  It will not be consummated until Christ returns.

With the inauguration of the kingdom, there is now a new task that Jesus sets before His disciples.  We must spread the word, announce to all of creation that Jesus reigns.  There is a new conquest.

Notice the similarities between Matthew 28 and Joshua 1:8-9.  In Matthew, Jesus tells the women, “Do not afraid” (28:10).  In the OT, YHWH tells Joshua, “Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed.”  In Matthew, Jesus says, “Behold, I am with you always.”  In the OT, God tells Joshua, “The LORD your God is with you wherever you you.”  In Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples to teach others to “observe all that I have commanded you.”  In the OT, God tells Joshua, “This book of the Law should not depart from your mouth, but you should mediate on it day and night so that you might observe to everything in this book.”

Jesus’ resurrection calls for a second conquest.  Now the Promised Land is all of God’s creation (cf. Rom. 4:13).  We are now called to proclaim the gospel of Christ’s kingdom to all nations.


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