Reading through the Bible together
Matthew’s Gospel comes to its climax with the resurrection of Christ. Christ wins! Death and injustice cannot defeat Him! The religious leaders who should have received and heralded the good news, deny the emptiness of the tomb and bribe the soldiers to proclaim a lie. Here again, power and identity issues trump the facts.
In sharp contrast to a religion built around who has authority and power, and who does not, two women outside the power structures, Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” are the first people commissioned to spread the Gospel. This shows that the proclamation of the good news is the work of all believers regardless of socio-economic or ecclesiastical status. These women were charged to direct “the disciples” to meet Him in Galilee (vs 7, 10). The disciples (vs 16) obeyed the message sent through the women, and went to the mountain in Galilee which Jesus had specified, and like the women at the tomb, worshiped the risen Christ (vs 17).
On the way, some doubted, but when they all got there, Jesus announces that He has ALL authority in heaven and on earth, and because of this, He commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples in all nations. The two key components in building discipleship are baptism and teaching whatever Christ taught. Notice that Christ’s disciples are not authorized to teach whatever they see fit. They are restricted to teach what Christ taught, that is, biblical teachings. Thus, there is no inherent authority in the messenger. Rather, the message is authoritative according to who originated it. And who is the message originator?
To answer this question, we note that both the women (vs 9) and the disciples (vs 17) worshiped Christ on that mountain, and Christ received that worship. By contrast, twice in Revelation–19:10 and 22:8-9–John falls to worship his accompanying angel and each time the angel refuses it and reminds John to worship only God. This is because the angels were commanded to worship Christ (Heb 1:6). Jesus has ALL authority in Heaven and on earth because He is God. Thus, in HIS authority, not in our own, we go out into the world with HIS message, making more disciples to follow the risen, divine Christ.
Stephen Bauer, Ph.D.
Professor of Theology and Ethics
Southern Adventist University