Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 28:18-20.
“… and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20b).
The Gospel of Matthew ends with the risen Lord’s Great Commission to the apostles to go, teach (make disciples of) all nations, baptize in the name of the triune God, and instruct them in all his counsel. It is the Great Commission, not the Great Suggestion.
Finally, the Lord offers to those apostles (and through them to the church that Christ will build on this foundation, Matthew 16:18) a promise or assurance of his abiding presence.
This is another “I am” (ego eimi) saying, like those in the Gospel of John: “and, lo, I am with you always”).
Think of a child who has to go through a struggle of some kind and of a loving parent who comes alongside that child and says, I am right here with you, and I will be by your side through it all.
This promise fits with an Emmanuel theme throughout the entire Bible. In the very first chapter of Matthew, the evangelist had taught of our Lord’s virginal conception as a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Now, like a bookend, in the final chapter of Matthew we hear this same Emmanuel promise.
It is stated in Hebrews 13:5, as the apostle writes, “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
When we turn to the book of Acts, we see this promise fulfilled. When Stephen laid down his life as the first martyr for our Lord, he looked up, as it were, into the balcony of heaven and saw Christ standing (Acts 7:55). When Paul went through turmoil in Corinth, the Lord spoke to him in a vision, saying, “Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee” (Acts 18:9b-10a).
The risen Lord promises to be with his disciples to the end (the final working out) of this world (this aeon or age; the time between his first advent and his second).
May this bring us great comfort as we continue to serve our Lord till he come again.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle