Matthew 28:11-20 (ESV)
11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
While the two Marys were running to deliver the good news to the other disciples, the Roman guard rushed to tell the Jewish religious leaders what happened as well. The Jews would believe the story before the Romans ever would, so the guards figured it was smart to report to them first. The Jewish religious leaders decided to pay the soldiers to say the followers of Jesus stole his body while they slept. One thing was certain; there was no corpse in the tomb anymore. Some explanation had to be given. But how could the soldiers know what happened while they were asleep? If they knew the disciples were stealing the body, why didn’t they stop them? There were some problems with the lie, but it was the best they could come up with. Then the eleven disciples (Judas was dead, so there were eleven now.) met with Jesus in Galilee. It was there that Jesus charged them with what is known as “The Great Commission.” He instructed them to make new disciples by doing three things: going, baptizing, and teaching obedience to his directives. He encouraged his followers with his promise to be with them to the end. Looking carefully at verse 19, it literally says “the name of,” and not “the names of.” This is one place where Jesus undoubtedly taught that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, three persons, were in essence one God with one “name.”
Matthew records Jesus’ final charge to his followers. Most people are aware that Jesus instructed his followers, including us as Christians, to make disciples. We know that. But one thing we often overlook is that Jesus unmistakably said in verse 20, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” In other words, “Teach them to do what I say.” This should be common sense to us, but we live in a day where many, even Christians, would say that obedience to Jesus doesn’t really matter. All we need is faith or to “believe in” him. But if we truly believe in him, we would do what he said. If we don’t seek to do what Jesus said, then it’s safe to say we don’t “really” believe. If you are a Christian today, make sure that when you communicate the gospel, or pray for those around you, that your words are consistent with the truth. Followers of Jesus will follow Jesus. It’s not that complicated.