Chapter & verse: Matthew 28:16-20
David Coleman wrestles with Jesus’ Great Commission
I remember the disquiet and embarrassment I felt at the scholarly suggestion that Jesus was ‘an apocalyptic preacher’. I pictured some fulminating nutter in the street. There’s something in me still in thrall to the authority of the calm and sensible. A faith in the bluff of the dominance of big old names on the theology bookshelf. That has its uses.
And yet there’s plenty in the Gospels – never mind Revelation – to support this scary picture of our Lord. The challenge is that his wilder words are beginning to sound like news reports. Luke 21:25: ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth, distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.’ Or, put it another way, ‘No credible pathway to a 1.5C limit’ – from the terribly respectable, cautious and peer-reviewed folks in the United Nations Climate Programme.
Having reached Easter, following, for those who do lectionary, a traditional and often decorative rehearsal of some pretty potent and wild scriptural stories, can we, with the post-Easter exhaustion of preachers in local churches, relax into the reassuring sanity of the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20? Can we draw breath, confident that this is what we’ve been about for 2,000 years? No further action needed?..
David Coleman is Chaplain for Eco Congregation Scotland
This is an extract from an article published in the April 2023 edition of Reform