So as a storyteller, this passage sort of “gelled” when I realized it was on a mountain — not in the temple, or a locked room, or around a table — it was on a mountain. And Jesus is saying to “Go, therefore, to all nations” — from a mountain you can see (at least on a clear day) a long way. You have a feeling of seeing the whole world and far more, anyway, than your normal daily paths. I got a sort of picture in my mind of Jesus sweeping his arms out to the whole world. Or maybe even he pointed to Phillip and pointed in the direction of India and so on.
And then this verse — “And Jesus came and said to them…” Where did he come from? Wasn’t he there on the mountaintop? What’s going on?
“When they saw him, they worshiped him….
And Jesus came and said….”
I visualize that Jesus was floating in the air, descending down to the mountaintop. All could see him. And while some doubted — maybe something is wrong with my eyes — they all worshiped him. If we saw someone floating down to a mountaintop, clearly worship is a fine reaction!
So in giving the Tell, I tried looked up at “When they saw him…” and I swept my arms out and a little down, at “Go, therefore” to all nations…”
Just a tiny bit of movement to expand the story. I think it did anyway!
Plus there’s more.
What mountain near Galilee would this be? Perhaps the mountain where the sermon on the Mount took place?
Or perhaps being on a mountain is to free the disciples from temple-worship — God is everywhere?
Moses went up to a Mountain and came back down with the Ten Commandments. Mountains are important imagery in Matthew.
So — may we have a chance to get to a high place and breath in the view and feel the air. And worship God!
In Matthew 28:16-20 Jesus commissions the disciples to go out and make more; that’s what they are to do. It’s just a few lines, and many of us have heard these lines many many times. So it is surprising to me all that I am finding in them. On first glance, I honestly thought it was Jesus way of just keeping the disciples busy until the grief of His leaving them was less. When someone dies/leaves, just keep busy. Clean the fridge. Wash the windows. Plan a new garden. And for the prime person left, of course in our world the paperwork alone can be overwhelming. So I thought, well they likely didn’t have paperwork back then. And maybe the Romans would hold a grudge against the disciples, maybe it was for the best if they leave town for a while. So Jesus got them to Galilee, to the mountain, and then is sending them off to all the nations. Keeping them busy and keeping them safe.
All that may be true.
But of course, the disciples did go to all the nations. There is Christianity, however robust or fragile, everywhere, I think. And the task was not just busy work for them. They were given the power to tell their story — and have it believed. I mean really — elsewise who would have believed: your God had a son, okay lots of Gods do, carry on. Oh but your God’s son died. Okay, well that happens too, so sorry. Oh wait, he came back? To forgive us? To defeat death? What sort of crazy talk is this guy; look let’s just feed him and treat him gently and get him out of town, eh?
But they persisted. They did as Jesus said — went, baptized, taught, and remembered. It may be the first time the disciples did anything right!
I was going to write about Mountains in Matthew and how surprising and mystical and full circle it is that Jesus met them, for the last time, on a mountaintop. Next time!