We are studying two short texts, Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 1:6-8, for Sunday, April 29. Both concern Jesus’ last instructions to “the eleven,” after his resurrection and just prior to his ascension. [Some notes on these texts are here.] Here are a few questions about these texts we might want to consider before or during class:
In v17, Matthew tells us that “some doubted.” What do we think this means? (E.g., do we think some of the disciples couldn’t believe their eyes? Do we think they doubted themselves? Something else?) What are the possibilities, do we think – what could it mean?
How is it possible to “worship” and “doubt” at the same time, or is it?
Does the disciples’ doubt make them more, or less, like us, do we think? How do we feel about this? Why?
In Matthew (v18), Jesus announces that he has “all authority in heaven and on earth.” He seems to present this as a reason for the instruction to go and make disciples. What does Jesus’ authority have to do with making disciples, do we think? What difference does that authority make for the work of making disciples? (e.g., Does it make the work, whatever it is, easier? More likely to succeed? Does it affect the attitude the disciples will have?)
In Acts (v8), Jesus tells the apostles that they will “receive power from the Holy Spirit.” This seems to have something to do with being witnesses. Do witnesses need power? Why? What kind of power is this, do we think? What kind of power is it not? How is it related to authority?
Are “making disciples” and “being witnesses” the same thing? Or different things? Or different but related things? How? (What does it mean to make disciples? What does it mean to be a witness? What are the similarities, differences, relationship?) What makes us think this?
In these texts, Jesus is speaking directly to “the eleven.” Are the instructions restricted to these individuals, or do they apply to others? Do they apply to us? Why, do we think?
How do we, ourselves, follow these instructions?
What is included in “everything that I have commanded you”?
In v20, Jesus says “remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Does this statement apply to the individuals who were there, or more widely? Does it apply to us, do we think? Again, why?
When we, ourselves, think of Jesus, do we think of him as an authority figure? Why, or why not? What difference does it make if we think this way about Jesus?
Do we think of him as “with us”? Why, or why not? What does “with” mean for us? What difference does it make if we think this way about Jesus?