Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

But some doubted…” Why did Matthew include that detail? Why do those words jump off the page?

These are the closing verses to Matthew’s gospel and the opening act in the future of the Christian movement. What does Jesus want his followers to do? To go into the world where they live. To make disciples by baptizing and teaching. I don’t think we need to be reminded that making disciples (those who actually follow Jesus in their lives by doing the things that Jesus did) is not the same thing as “signing people up to the membership list of a club.” Or maybe we do.

Jesus wraps his call to action with two reassuring messages. First, he opens with a reminder that he retains authority, and therefore accountability. He is in charge. He is the boss. It is right to respond in obedience to his commands. And then he closes with a promise, that he will be with them always, to the very end.

But some doubted….”

Those three words don’t change a thing about Jesus’ words to his disciples. They don’t change a thing in how Matthew tells the story. Matthew could have left those three words out and no one would have been the wiser.

Unlike the conspirators who concocted a story to cover their tracks, Matthew proves willing to tell the truth. Here’s the truth – for 2000 years now – many people have been so committed to the truth of Jesus that they have obediently done what he commanded. They have loved and served in Jesus’ name. They have walked with people to baptism and continuing maturity. They have created opportunities for Christian community to gather. And all the along the way, some doubted. More likely, all along the way, all doubted at some point.

Someone smarter than me once said that “doubt is the ants in the pants of faith.” Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith, it is faith’s dance partner. Certainty is the opposite of faith. The question is never “Do I doubt?” but always “What happens when I doubt my doubts? Where shall I take my doubts…or where will they take me?”

Jesus has come to set us free. Certainty will never set us free. Only truth can do that. Truth that is a person, still with us now, to the end of the age.

Let us pray: Thank you Lord for those people who first brought us to you. Thank you for the songs and prayers that reached our ears long before we understood anything beyond how good it felt to be held close to our mothers or fathers. Thank you for the faithfulness of the saints before us to carry the message of your love and message to the world. Use us to do the same. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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