Matthew 28:19-20 (NRSV)“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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus and his disciples are on a mountaintop when he speaks the words above that we know as the Great Commission. After he promises to be with them always, he ascends into Heaven and his disciples will see him on earth no more. Now they must descend the mountain and get on with the work Jesus has given them.
It’s hard to leave a mountaintop. We want to linger. I had two mountaintop experiences last year – our younger son was awarded his Ph.D. in Texas and our older son got married in California. Though I had little to do with the younger one’s six years of study and research and no role at all in the older one building a solid relationship with a lovely young woman, these were family milestones I had hoped and prayed for for years. Both celebrations were days of incredible joy. I did not want them to end.
I imagine the disciples lingering on the mountaintop after Jesus leaves them. There is joy in knowing that Jesus who had died and risen from the dead had now ascended to heaven – and they would see him again because of his promise of eternal life. But there was sadness, too, in knowing they would no longer be with him in the coming days. I think they would have wanted time together in that place to mourn the ending of that pivotal experience in their lives.
But they did not linger long. They descended the mountain, and when they had received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, they set out to make disciples, baptize and teach.
As Christians, we have just been to the mountaintop of Easter, after completing the emotional journey of Lent. We want to stay in that perfect Easter moment, basking in the fulfillment of God’s promise. But we are called to return to our complicated everyday lives where there are needs all around us. The good news for us is that we can carry Easter joy in our hearts as we do God’s work in the world.
Jesus, thank you for our time together on the mountain top. Help me remember that you are also with me in my everyday world and that I am called to serve you in what I say and do. Amen.
Written by Cheryl Stubbendieck
Cheryl Stubbendieck is a member of Sheridan’s Devotion Writing Team. She and her husband Jim live near Sheridan. Their family includes their son Aaron and his wife Chaitra of San Francisco, CA and their son Reed of Madison, WI. Cheryl was the public relations department head for Nebraska Farm Bureau before retiring in 2012. She spent the next four years as the volunteer manager of Barnabas Community and is now participating in Companions in Christ at Sheridan.