It’s been a while since I’ve actually posted. In truth, I’ve started a half dozen blogs since the last one. But my husband has been traveling 3 of the last 4 weeks, and well, by the time I got around to finish what I started, it no longer seemed relevant. This one is different, though. It’s the sole one I’ve started in the last month or so that I feel compelled to finish. Every time I have re-visited it, I have written a little more (as time has permitted) and as I’ve studied the passage below, I know this time God wanted me to finish what I started. So here we go…
“Meet Me on the Mountain”
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
In our last life group a few weeks ago, we discussed the passage above. As I said, my husband was out of town (actually out of the country in Africa!) so one of our group members Scott Fletcher led our Bible Study discussion. He pointed out that Jesus told the disciples to rendezvous with Him and meet Him at a certain mountain. It was a designated meeting place. Then Scott asked our group, “Why do you think Jesus did that?”
Everyone in the room sat in silence. At first, the question seemed as difficult as the final question on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and everyone in the room had already used up all of our life-lines. In truth, at least for me, I had to absorb the whole scenario. I’ve read through Matthew countless times, but this little detail about the disciples meeting Jesus on the mountain is something I’ve never even noticed before. So when Scott asked it, I was intrigued by the entire scene and decided I was going to study it in more depth later.
The next morning, and for several days following, I did my best to study this passage. I tried to dig a little deeper into this part about “Meet me on the Mountain.” I tried to find out which mountain they met on in Galilee. I tried to find out how I never heard about or even realized this fact about Jesus designating the meeting place of the mountain. But as I studied, instead of everything becoming more clear, it only got more clouded.
As you probably know, Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic Gospels, because much of their content is parallel, but with each book written and slanted toward its intended audience. So as I set out to find the parallel passage to Matthew 28 in the other Gospels, I started to get a bit overwhelmed and confused. I flipped back and forth in my Bible looking for answers. But as best I could tell, none of the other Gospels mention about this mountain in Galilee where Jesus met with the disciples, at least not that I could find.
In fact, some people argue that Scripture contradicts itself because they believe this passage in Matthew does indeed have parallel passages in Luke 24, Mark 16, and Acts 1. You see, Matthew says they were in Galilee when Jesus charged the disciples with what we know as “The Great Commission.” However, if the parallel passages for this are also found in Luke 24, Mark 16, and Acts 1, then Jesus wasn't in Galilee with the disciples - He was in Jerusalem. Because of this, some people say the Bible isn't accurate, and you can't trust anything in it.
Now let me say unequivocally: I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture – the complete and total infallible Word of God; therefore, I also believe there must be an answer to this and any potential conflict one might find in Scripture. So I dug a little deeper. One thing I found is that Matthew typically wrote thematically and not always chronologically. Additionally, the accounts found in Luke 24, Mark 16, and Acts 1 all end with the ascension of Jesus into heaven, while Matthew 28 does not. The only logical conclusion I can come to is that the accounts listed in these chapters are not actually parallel passages – they were different accounts of (at least) two different meetings between the disciples and Jesus. Yes, the messages were parallel, but think about it. How many times do we tell our children the same message, either because they do not “get it” the first time, or because it’s so important that they need to hear it again for the sake of emphasis? If I believe the Bible, then I believe the whole Bible and I take it at face value. If there seems to be contradiction, there must be a reason for it, and I need to dig deeper. In this case, I believe the two scenes described are different encounters between Jesus and the disciples. Take some time to go read these passages for yourself. Don’t take my word for it, because I’ve said it many times – I’m no scholar!
Anyway, back to Scott’s question in our Life Group. “Why do you think Jesus told the disciples to meet Him on the mountain?” It took me a few moments , but I finally broke the silence in the room. I have no idea if I was right or not, but I said that I thought Jesus wanted the disciples to meet Him on the mountain so they could have a visual image to correlate with the words He would give them there.
Put yourself in the disciples shoes. Picture being on the mountain with Jesus as He said, “All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth...Go and make disciples of all nations…” I can just see Jesus using His hands to express the words coming out of His mouth. I can see Him lifting them up as He said "All authority is given to me in heaven"...and then down as He said "earth" and then finally outstretching His hand to the view beyond and below as He said the word "all" in "Go and make disciples of ALL nations." I can picture it, but how I would have loved to be there to experience this “Great Commission” first-hand To see the nations below. To hear and watch how Jesus articulated those words!
Caution: Promo for a friend forthcoming.
For the last two years, I’ve attended a Christian songwriter’s conference in St. Louis called Write About Jesus. My first year at the conference, I met a guy named David Myers. At the conference, we can submit one song into a competition, and that first year, David ended up winning with a song called “The Valley.” David Myers. Pay attention to that name, because one day it’ll be a household name in Christian music – maybe even in any genre. No lie. He has an amazing talent, and he’s going places. Anyway, I can’t think of this story about Jesus telling the disciples to meet Him at the mountain without thinking of David’s song “The Valley.”
The words to “The Valley” are a direct contrast to the situation with the disciples. They go something like this:
"I don’t need another mountaintop I need to meet You in the valley.
When I feel everything is lost, that’s when I let Your love consume me.
It’s only in surrender that we’re set free, so meet me in the valley.”
You can donate and download David’s album at this link: https://www.davidmyersonline.com/.
Be generous. He's a starving artist with a wife and son. OK, in truth, he’s probably not really starving, but the Bible is very clear in Luke 10 and I Timothy 5, “A labor is worthy of his wages.” So be sure to donate after listening and downloading!
Promo for a friend now over. Unashamed and unapologetically, we now return to the point of the blog.
Jesus told the disciples to meet Him at the mountain. David’s song says we need to meet Jesus in the valley. Pretty big contrast when you think of it. In truth, I think the disciples needed to be on that mountaintop to see the relevance of making disciples of all nations. And I need Jesus on my mountaintops, when the view is good and the sky is clear. But just like David's song, I need Him in the valley, too. I need Him when my view is obstructed by my surroundings.
The bottom line is this - I really believe Jesus expects us to meet Him on our mountaintops, our valleys, in the plains, and in the rains. He has important things to share with me, and I have to show up to learn them. I have to actively engage myself to listen to what He has to say. It really doesn't matter where I am in my life's walk - I need Him.
I find it interesting that the Bible says the eleven disciples came to that mountain to meet Jesus. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some doubted. Did you catch that? Some doubted. Don't you wonder which ones? Or am I the only nosey one? What did they doubt? Jesus hadn't even started talking yet at that point! Did some doubt that it was Jesus? Did they doubt that Jesus was the Christ?
Bring it home. In truth, as much as we know God is in control on our mountaintops and if we've made a personal commitment to Him, He's right there with us in our valleys too, do we not often still doubt, just like some of those disciples? How often do we forget "All authority is given to Him"? How often do we forget our marching orders of "Go and Make Disciples of all nations." Yes, how often do we get so focussed on ourselves that we forget God is God on the mountaintop and God is God in the valleys. Guilty as charged.
I hope you'll never read this passage in Matthew the same way again. I know I never will. I love how God uses one little word or phrase to ignite a spark to dig deeper in knowing Him. And that's exactly what He wants - for my desire to know Him to increase with each passing day. To go to the Max with Him. And of course, to meet Him in the valley, and just like the disciples, to meet Him on the mountain.
--- Beth Banfill