Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:16-20)
A Message For The Doubters
The eleven apostles were men of faith but struggled with understanding the full measure of the death and resurrection of Jesus. They were crushed when they saw the Lord crucified and then amazed beyond wonder to see Him alive three days later followed by another appearance a week later when Jesus manifested Himself to Thomas. Jesus would spend forty days with the chosen eleven along with more than five hundred disciples as He taught them and prepared them for the coming of the Kingdom.
Matthew’s account of the days following the resurrection is very brief. His post-resurrection account focuses only on the meeting on the mountain where some of the eleven doubted and Jesus gives final instructions. Like the beginning of his gospel, Matthew establishes the authority of Jesus and the purpose of the coming of God’s Son. Writing to a largely Jewish crowd, the former tax-collector ends the story of Jesus’ life with a declaration of authority, obedience, and admonition to help dissuade all those who disbelieved.
The gospel of Matthew shows that Jesus is the son of David and the son of Abraham. This fulfilled the prophecies of the coming Messiah clearly showing that Mary gave birth to a child called Jesus who would save His people from their sins. Establishing authority was paramount to the message of Jesus. Matthew ends his book by showing that Jesus has all authority given to Him by the Father. This rule is given to Jesus by the Father with authority in heaven and on earth. If there are any among the eleven who doubted, they must accept the divine authority of Jesus as the word of God.
Second, Matthew shows the need for obedience. Jesus tells the eleven to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Obedience is heeding the voice of the one who has all authority. The brief account of Matthew to the words of Jesus shows the power of God’s word. Jesus tells the eleven their work will require them to go and make disciples of all nations. Being busy in the work of the kingdom will drive away any doubts. Their message was a simple yet profound doctrine: salvation comes through the grace of God as men immerse themselves in water by the authority of the Godhead. This was the authority of Jesus. To be a faithful follower of Christ, an obedient heart would readily accept baptism as a means of salvation.
Third, Jesus directs the eleven that when a man becomes a child of God, there is much work to be done in teaching and admonishing the faithful to remain true to the word of God. Children of God obey all the commands of the Father without reservation. Faith is the assurance that drives away doubt. Hearing the word of God and obeying the commands of the Father leads a man to seek more knowledge to grow in the grace of Christ. All authority comes from Jesus Christ, salvation is found in the waters of baptism and eternal life assured in keeping the commands of the Lord.
If any man doubts the authority of Jesus they will refuse to obey the word of God. Refusing to obey the word of God will hinder their obedience to the cleansing blood of Christ. A doubter is someone who is divided in mind. Among the eleven some doubted but the authority of Jesus, command of God, and instructions of the Holy Spirit will drive those doubts away. Many in the religious world view the final words of Matthew with skepticism and reject the authority of Christ as merited works salvation. Like some of the eleven, their minds are divided. Matthew ended his gospel in a clear and definitive message: accept the authority of Jesus, obey the command of God to be baptized for the remission of sins and follow the teachings of the word of God. There will be no doubt when this pattern is followed.