The biography of Jesus’s life that was written by Matthew ends with what is known as the “great commission”. It’s one of the final instructions that Jesus gives to his disciples. So far, we’ve considered that the whole thing was really about Jesus, and we’ve considered one part of the instruction that Jesus gives: make disciples. Today we’ll consider a second.
“…of all nations”.
Did you know that Matthew was a Jewish person who was also a tax-collector for the Roman government?
As a person familiar with the Hebrew scriptures, Matthew would have been familiar with the prophecies of a coming Messiah. He knew that there would come a day when God’s people would have their kingdom restored.
It’s possible that this outlook is precisely what led him to become a tax-collector. Perhaps he saw the Roman Government as the means through which God would provide his people with a restored Kingdom. They lived in relative peace, although it was paid for through heavy taxation, and Matthew was willing to play his part.
Given Matthew’s background, it’s no surprise that his biography of Jesus focuses on the fact that the kingdom of God had actually come in the person of Jesus Christ. It did not come through Jewish independence; it also did not come through affiliation with Rome. It was an entirely new type of Kingdom that came through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, who was the promised Messiah.
I think that’s why Matthew closes with this instruction of Jesus, and emphasizes that we are to make disciples of all nations. The kingdom of God is no longer just about one group. It’s not just about the people that look like you, or the people you get along with. The message of the Jesus is for all people, from all tribes, backgrounds, and cultures.
When we talk about “Mission,” at Restore, we can’t separate it from Jesus’s instruction to spread the message to “all nations”. We want to be intentional about having a church that reflects the “all nations” kingdom that Jesus was talking about. Matthew may have believed that the Jewish Kingdom would have been a mono-ethnic kingdom; the great awakening for him was realizing that Jesus came to bring his kingdom to everyone.
In First John, we’ve seen that it’s the fellowship of the church–people from all backgrounds–that most clearly reflects the power of the good news in our lives. We want to be a church that reflects that power!
This fall we’re making intentional efforts to bridge the divide between various ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds. We’re going to do our best to be strategic about how we can be diverse, rather than just desire to be diverse. Please pray that God would bless our efforts!
It’s been said that if we don’t want diversity in the church, we aren’t going to like heaven very much. Either we can be shocked when we get there, or we can start practicing now!