Everything I have commanded: Matthew 28.16–20 (17 July 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, open my ears to hear what you have to say to me; open my heart to love your word, and open my mind to understand your truth.

Reflect

Daily reflection: Matthew 28

We're very used to reading the last verses of Matthew's gospel – verses 19 and 20 – as the 'Great Commission', Jesus' command to his disciples to go 'to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples'. Most Christians – particularly those in the evangelical tradition – would hold this command as binding today. It's driven foreign missions for more than 200 years, though for much of the Church's history it didn't have the same force; it tended to be seen as a task for the Apostles rather than for later believers.

What we might miss, though, is the actual content of this mission. Jesus says the Apostles are to 'teach them to obey everything I have commanded you' (verse 20). That 'everything' is very demanding – and before we can teach anything, we have to be willing to learn. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) sets a very high standard. However, our conduct isn't to be motivated by fear, but by love: 'If you love me, you will obey my commandments', Jesus said (John 14.15).

Perhaps a focus on the commands of Jesus might make us approach evangelism a little differently. It might make us ask what we're trying to convert people to; it might make us wonder whether church growth for its own sake is a particularly worthy goal. A read through the Gospels with pen and paper in hand, noting down everything Jesus tells us to do, might be a useful spiritual exercise.

Pray

Pray

God, thank you for the commandments of Jesus, which he gave us for our good. Help me to learn them and to keep them, and to be humble and repentant when I fail to keep them.

Bringing the Bible to life

Bible Society, Stonehill Green, Westlea, Swindon, SN5 7DG. Registered charity 232759