Lectionary Reflection for Trinity Sunday

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 28:16-20:

The eleven disciples go to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them, and when they see Jesus they worship him. They had previously worshiped him after he had walked on water (Matt. 14:33), but now they worship him as the one who has returned to life.

But some doubt. Again we see Matthew’s absolute candor. There is nothing to hide. Even after the resurrection some of Jesus’s disciples doubted. Matthew does not tell us what form their doubt took, but one doubts that they doubted that he had been raised. Rather, their doubt regarded their ability to obey and follow Jesus. They have not forgotten that they deserted him. Jesus, however, reminds them who he is. He tells them that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” . . .

The devil has lost. The devil had offered Jesus authority over all the kingdoms of the world if only Jesus would worship him (Matt. 4:8–11), but Jesus’s whole life was a refusal of that offer. It was a refusal that required Jesus to endure rejection and crucifixion, but through that endurance he has triumphed. He alone now has the authority to send the disciples to the world to make disciples of all the nations. He first sent the disciples only to Israel (10:5–6), but now he sends the disciples to all the world to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What has been hidden from the foundation of the world, what has been hidden from the wise, is now revealed by the Son. The God of Israel is the God of all nations. The disciples are now equipped to be sent to the nations, baptizing them into the death and resurrection of Jesus to make them citizens of his death-defying kingdom. Israel is not to be left behind, but rather its mission is now continued in a new reality called church. Through the church all nations will learn to call Israel blessed.

The church, moreover, is but the name of a people who have been formed to worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. To worship that God is to live a life described by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

Therefore, Jesus commands his disciples to teach those whom they baptize to obey all that he has commanded. Jesus’s death and resurrection cannot be separated from the way he has taught us to live. The Sermon on the Mount, how we are to serve one another as brothers and sisters, the forgiveness required by our willingness to expose the sin of the church, is salvation. The teaching and the teacher are one. The salvation that Jesus entrusts to his disciples is the gospel of Matthew.

The disciples are to remember that the mission on which Jesus sends them is not one on which they must go alone. He is the resurrected Lord who will always be with those entrusted to witness to him and his work. He was in the beginning, which means that he can promise to be at the end of the age. But the age that he will be present at the end of is the age inaugurated by his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection.

On that basis and that basis alone Christians are sent to the world with the message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is present.”


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.