Matthew 28: 19
Jesus was dead. Jesus was risen. But they weren’t sure yet.
This encounter with Christ at the end of the gospel according to Matthew describes the encounter that believers and doubters had with the newly risen Christ. This rising up was evidence to them that Jesus had indeed conquered death, had fulfilled the prophesie, and had made the way for salvation.
That’s all fine and good. But what do we do here and now while we await the only sure thing in life; death? Here Jesus leaves no doubt or question. He instructs us to do three separate and distinct things:
In some ways we might very easily assume that because Jesus paid it all on the cross as soon as we accept him into our hearts our work is done. After all, didn’t our pastors say that if you take one step towards Jesus, he would take two towards you? That his yoke was easy and his burden light, and what could be lighter than taking it easy and not working anymore to curry favor in the eyes of the Lord?
This in some ways suggests to me that his will on earth as it is in heaven is not thornless roses and clouds. It’s work. Work that you want to do that comes with joy and no paycheck but with every need you ever had already fulfilled. The work of the saints according to this passage is for us to eschew a lazy Christian ethic and get up from or place of comacency and go. Go from the comfort of the pew. Go from the easy chair with the television evangelist on. Go from your place of comfort and choose to lean on faith. This is not comfortable. It never was intended to be. It was instead meant to be a promise that no matter where you go, he will be there with you as a rod and staff guiding and protecting you. But you must go.
That is understandable, but to teach. What are we to teach? It would be easy to become sidetracked into teaching the wrong things. Think of how we are when we know that we know that we know what is. You are certain that if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll be able to retire and have a glorious golden age in the sunset of your life. Right? No? What happened to that knowledge? Nothing like that is assured. But we still teach it. Neither did Jesus promise us an easy life yet some still teach that. He taught us to love one another as he loves us. That is hard because the truth is, it’s easier to fight and struggle fuss and cause war than it is to love and stay our raised fist. Teach his love. Teach the basic ethic to love one another in every land.
Baptize. Baptism is not simply getting wet and it doesn’t save you. A baptism is an outward demonstration of the change that has already occurred in your heart. Evidence to all that you’ve entered into relationship with Christ. Baptism is an immersion into the water but it is also immersion of your spirit into one with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is the great act we can make to show our unashamed willingness to love, to walk, and to proclaim the glory of God in our lives.