Thursday, April 5, 2012

Therefore Go and Make Disciples...

Maundy Thursday (From the Latin term “Maundatum Novum” which means “New Commandment”)

Watchword for Maundy Thursday - He has gained renown by his wonderful
deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful. Psalm 111:4

Psalm 44:9-16
9 But now you have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.
10 You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.
13 You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
15 I live in disgrace all day long,
and my face is covered with shame
16 at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.

Exodus 39:32-40:23
Moses Inspects the Tabernacle

32 So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the LORD commanded Moses. 33 Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses: the tent and all its furnishings, its clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; 34 the covering of ram skins dyed red and the covering of another durable leather[a] and the shielding curtain; 35 the ark of the covenant law with its poles and the atonement cover; 36 the table with all its articles and the bread of the Presence; 37 the pure gold lampstand with its row of lamps and all its accessories, and the olive oil for the light; 38 the gold altar, the anointing oil, the fragrant incense, and the curtain for the entrance to the tent; 39 the bronze altar with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the basin with its stand; 40 the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the ropes and tent pegs for the courtyard; all the furnishings for the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; 41 and the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when serving as priests. 42 The Israelites had done all the work just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 43 Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the LORD had commanded. So Moses blessed them.

Matthew 28:1-20
Jesus Has Risen

1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


Our psalmist reflects sadness during the time, probably in Judah’s history, where they had felt that God had withdrawn his hand though, as the next verses would suggest, Israel had not been unfaithful to God’s covenant. (vv. 17-21) This is similar to the rejection Jesus felt on the cross when he uttered, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

Moses inspects all of the work of the tabernacle and sees that it has been done according to the way God had commanded him. And then it says, “He blessed them.” Some might wonder why all the attention to these details, and especially the type of fabrics, and the gold and silver etc... The answer was that God wanted them to understand what His presence among them would mean. Each of the articles reflects something that would either draw the people into God’s presence, or would be an effect of being in God’s presence. I.e. the Lamp and the oil that kept it burning would be a sign that Israel was a light to the nations of God’s glory. The bread was a reminder that God would feed them spiritual food to sustain them. When Jesus comes later He would say, “I am the bread of life”, and “the light of the world”; reminding the Israelites of these powerful images from their religious upbringing.

Finally, in our Gospel lesson, we have Jesus’ last words to his disciples, commonly called the “Great Commission”. As Jesus rose from the dead early Sunday morning and appeared first to the women (an interesting fact that adds validity to the story in light of women’s role in the society in Jesus’ day), he told them he would go ahead of them. When he met them as the Risen Christ, he commanded them (not the Great Suggestion!) to go make disciples, using the pattern he had given them when he lived among them for three years. Importantly he says, “All authority has been given to me therefore go”, and “and surely I am with you until the end of the age.

As disciples today who have been sent in Jesus’ name to make disciples, we too have His authority and power as we go forward to obey what He has commanded us. This commission is not just for pastors and other workers in the church, but for all who follow Jesus. The natural outflow of following Jesus and living the abundant, resurrection life is to want to share this life with others God leads us to. It is organic, missional and Spirit led. It is God’s only plan to reach the world with His love. Are you living it? As we celebrate Easter this Sunday, remember that we too are sent out in His name and in His power, the same power that raised Him from the dead 2,000 years ago.

In your great mercies you did not make an end of your people or forsake them. Nehemiah 9:31

The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 1 Corinthians 11:23-25

Father, forgive us for our sins of ignorance and restore our hope as we remember the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his name we pray. Amen.

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