Has life ever caused you great doubt? What do you do? Where do you go? There are times when we are crying out saying, “Dear Lord, I have no idea what to do. Please show me the way.” This last year has given out crazy things to deal with like never before, and sometimes it causes one to doubt. I know I have. So the question that needs to be answered is, “Where do we find peace in the midst of all this confusion?”
Let’s take a close look at Jesus’ disciples in Matthew 28:16-20. I am oddly comforted to see that they too struggled with doubt. Could you imagine their conversation as they huddled up in fear following the crucifixion and burial of Christ? On Easter morning, they surely wondered who might have stolen the body. How could the resurrection of Jesus have happened? You and I may go through similar confusing times as well, as we ponder the mighty acts of God in the Bible through Word and sacrament, or witness the miraculous works of God in our day-to-day activities. The disciples doubted after they saw their teacher suffer and die. Has doubt crept in for you after the death of a loved one? Maybe you’ve tried working through the events in your life only to find yourself asking the same questions: “Why such loss? Why am I struggling with depression and anxiety? God, where are you?”
But also in Matthew 28 we see Jesus who, as God, knew that the disciples were struggling. He knows when you struggle as well. Responding to his disciples’ doubt, Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me.” He is saying, “I get it, I know how you feel. Even though you don’t feel qualified, I want you to know I AM qualified, and I am calling you to go out in the midst of all this confusion, pain, and struggle—and point people to the cross.” Tell them the story of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Jesus showed the disciples where to meet him in verse 16. As God assures us today that he is with us, he tells us where to meet him. Jesus leads us to the place where he is, so that we may know him, worship him, and abide in him. The place where Jesus is located is in the Word of God. This is the place where a lost and broken heart looking for hope finds the supernatural strength to tell Jesus’ story of suffering, death, and resurrection. We have the greatest message ever given to mankind. Real freedom is breaking the silence and telling his story. Tell the Easter story over and over again to a world without hope.
God first delivered his promise of Christ’s work all the way back in Genesis 3:15. He bookended his promise at Calvary. So 2 Corinthians 1:20 (ESV) declares, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
Do we doubt? YES. So how do we press on through our dilemmas? Philemon 1:6 states, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (NIV, 1984). Go tell someone with a hurting heart what Christ has done for them. They will see your hurts and struggles, but better yet, they will see your faith in the One bringing you through this pain. Then understanding starts to come. You can be sure of his promises. Wherever you find the name of Jesus proclaimed, there he is. He is here now to save you from your sin. His blood has forgiven you. His Spirit has already given you faith to believe and cry out to him. You say, “Yes, Jesus forgive me.” Jesus says, “You are forgiven.”
Jesus then says in Matthew 28:19, “Go and make disciples.” By his provision, “You are forgiven,” Jesus brings all who believe into his process of declaring the good news. New life is yours! This is what creates the desire to go. God provides the way for you to make the proclamation. God’s process is to seek and save the lost, through his Son living in you! Jesus restores the broken and wounded; he gives hope to the hopeless. Jesus defeated our enemy death by giving you his life. That is what God provides through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
You know him because you believe he is the Savior from sin, death, and the devil. You believe your sins are washed in the blood. Jesus has rescued you. He has given you restoration and redemption. He provides for you today the way, the truth, and the life. These are the gifts that he commissions you to offer the world today. GO, and know that Christ is with you. In verse 20 Jesus boldly states, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” You can take this to the bank: His presence is always found in his Word. He is with us now, right here in our midst. As the Word is read, Christ is revealed.
Whether things are going great or whether you’re struggling and suffering, Jesus declares that he is with you. When Jesus is with you, he gives you his strength, he gives you his presence, and he gives you his peace that surpasses all understanding. He carries you through trials and gives you wisdom and humility through successes and failures, so that you can see his hand leading and guiding. He teaches you so that you can shine his light into a dark and dying world. You, like the disciples, can be sure about the place to meet the Lord. He will always be found in his Word, and he will always go with you.
Rev. Shawn Bowman is Pastor of Victory Lutheran Brethren Church in Jamestown, North Dakota.