“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, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age” (Matthew 28:19-20, CEB).
After His death and resurrection in Jerusalem, Jesus made several post-resurrection appearances to His disciples in Jerusalem and in Galilee. It was in Galilee that Jesus appeared to His disciples (some believe the “more than 500” that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 15:6) and directed them to “go and make disciples of all nations.”
All Christians are very familiar with the Great Commission. In fact, you could say that Christianity is organized around the Great Commission. Almost everything we do as the Church is in response to the Great Commission.
But, in our zeal to perform the first part of the Great Commission, “Go and make disciples,” we sometimes omit the second part, “I will be with you.”
“The twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:9-11, ESV).
The twenty-four elders may represent the orders of priests serving in the Old Testament temple or they may symbolize the unity of God’s people as encompassing the twelve tribes of Old Testament Israel and the twelve apostles of the New Testament church–like the new Jerusalem’s twelve gates and twelve foundations in Revelation 21. Their thrones resemble those of God’s heavenly court in Daniel 7.
“And when they gave it to the people, there was plenty for all and some left over, just as the Lord had promised” (2 Kings 4: 44, NLT).
In 2 Kings 4 the prophet Elisha performs two miracles that demonstrate the principle of supply and demand according to the economy of God’s Kingdom.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NLT).
We’ve all heard the amusing story about the man who falls over a cliff and grabs a branch on the face of the cliff to break his fall. As he is hanging from the branch, he calls up toward heaven, “If anybody is up there, help me!” Suddenly a voice booms down from heaven, “LET GO OF THE BRANCH!” The man hanging from the branch thinks about it for a moment and then calls out, “Is anybody else up there?”
“Amazement came over them all, and they kept saying to one another, ‘What is this message? For He commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they come out!’ And news about Him began to go out to every place in the vicinity” (Luke 4:36-37, HCSB).
After Jesus was baptized by John and then tempted by the devil for forty days, He officially began His ministry. Jesus started out by teaching in synagogues in Galilee near His hometown of Nazareth..
“Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and horrified. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.’ Then He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:32-36, HCSB).
If the Transfiguration revealed Jesus’s divine nature, then Gethsemane revealed His humanity.
A lot of theological interpretations and explanations have been offered for the anguish expressed by Jesus at Gethsemane. Certainly He was about to bear the sins of all humanity–past, present, and future–and it was a horrific proposition!
“When they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke with them and said, ‘Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:49-52, HCSB).
Have you ever read a familiar passage in the Bible and found something new in it? That’s what happened to me as I read again this familiar story of Jesus walking on the water.
Admittedly, Mark’s version of this story does not include an important element described in Matthew’s account (Matthew 14:22-33). In Matthew’s version, Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water toward Jesus until he notices the wind and the waves, and consequently, begins to sink. So Peter’s faith (or lack of it) is usually the focus of this story for us.