Moses by John August Swanson. Image from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, Tenn. Original source © 1983 by John August Swanson.
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Matthew 28:16-20 Commentary
by Elisabeth Johnson
The eleven go to Galilee, “to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them” (Matthew 28:16).
Jewish scriptural tradition knows mountains to be places of revelation, places of encounter with God. The risen Jesus meets his disciples on this unnamed mountain, but as Robert H. Smith points out, the text is remarkably reserved in its lack of a physical description of Jesus. There is no portrayal of radiant glory or awesome power. The narrative focus is on the words of Jesus.1 The disciples apparently recognize Jesus and understand more clearly than before his identity as Son of God, as they worship him. Yet the author adds, “but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17).
Doubt is not the opposite of faith in Matthew, but an inevitable part of the life of faith and discipleship. When Peter walks on water, for example, he becomes frightened when he notices the strong wind and begins to sink. After saving him from drowning, Jesus says to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (14:31) Peter’s doubt does not prevent Jesus from saving him, nor does it preclude Peter ...
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2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 361: Great Commission
April 28, 2019
Podcast on Matthew 28:16-20, the Narrative Lectionary readings for April 28, 2019 (Great Commission) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.