Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Limping, Elevenish Recipients of the Great Commission

In concluding his Gospel with the Great Commission, Matthew describes the group that first received the charge ---notice the underlined words.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. Matthew 28:16-17

The number "eleven" grabs our attention. Eleven is incomplete. There weren't eleven tribes of Israel, there were twelve. And there weren't twelve Disciples, there were eleven. But Judas had betrayed the Lord and an explicit mention of eleven was an implicit reminder of the pain of someone leaving.

Frederick Dale Bruner commented, "The number eleven limps; it is not perfect like twelve. . . The church that Jesus sends into the world is fallible, 'elevenish,' imperfect."

Not only is the church "elevenish," some of the sheep are uncertain. Matthew includes the phrase, "but some doubted." It's hard to fathom: those physically present with the resurrected Christ still had questions. And, while it may be hard to fathom, it's not hard to believe, because we still have questions.

And so here we are today, 2000 years later, limping along, eleven of us, some have left the faith, and we are sometimes doubting, yet our gracious King has entrusted to us the Great Commission. It was never about the quality of the disciples, it was always about the greatness of the King who graciously includes us in His Kingdom work.

Chris Brauns is the Pastor of The Red Brick Church and the author of Unpacking Forgiveness and When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search. You can follow him on Twitter at ChrisBrauns. 

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