Behold, I am with you always…
[This is the first of the Eleven Resurrection Gospel readings of Matins]
Mountain top experiences loom large in Matthew’s Gospel. Satan’s last temptation of Jesus takes part on an ‘exceeding high mountain.’ (Matthew 4:8). The Lord’s most important teaching is given as a Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). And it was on Mt. Tabor that Christ was transfigured in radiant glory (Matthew 17:1-6).
And now, the disciples go to Galilee, to a mountain to which Jesus had directed them. But Matthew does not elaborate on what the disciples see, but what they – and we – must hear. In doing so, Matthew presents us in miniature the meaning of Christ and His ministry.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. (V. 18)
In other words, Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecy made to Daniel in a night vision.
And behold, with the clouds of heaven there came One like a Son of Man and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.
And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away and His kingdom is one that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
Next we hear this commandment, known as the Great Commission
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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (v. 19-20)
This passage is read at the Sacrament of Baptism and offers an affirmation of the Holy Trinity. But it also instructs us to be, and to make others, not only hearers of the word but doers of the word (James 1:22).
Matthew tells us at the opening of his Gospel that we shall call the Virgin’s Son Emmanuel, which means God with us (Matthew 1:23). The end of the Gospel echoes the beginning:
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (V. 20)
Comforting words indeed, now at these difficult times, and daily, all the days of our lives.