Connections 06.04.2023: The Great Reassurance

Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20

Matthew 28:17 seems to me to be one of the most honest descriptions of Jesus’s disciples in the entire Bible. They have followed him from their fishing boats to the upper room, witnessed his healings and feedings, received his teachings and blessings. They walked with him into Jerusalem in his final days, they saw him arrested—and they lived through his crucifixion. Then some of them—two women, according to Matthew, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” (28:1)—went to tend his buried body and experienced his resurrection. Now at last, in the final verses of Matthew, Jesus’s disciples, his “brothers and sisters” (28:10) go “to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them” (28:16) in Galilee, where they will see him.

And then there is the very honest verse 17: “When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they doubted.” Even these closest friends and followers of Jesus who have seen and heard from him in person still doubt. Even as they follow his instructions, go where he directed them, and see him there, alive again—even as they worship him—they still doubt.

Jesus’s words to them are what we commonly call the Great Commission; many of us may have memorized verses 19 and 20, especially if we were raised in churches with a strong sense of missionary commitment. But in the context of the reality-check of verse 17—the honest state of the disciples on that day—Jesus’s words seem to me to be as much about reassurance as they are about commissioning. He does not refute their doubts or dismiss their doubtfulness or accuse them of lack of faith; after all, they showed up, they did what he told them to do, and they went where he told them to go. He certainly does not berate them for still doubting even in the face of all they have seen and heard, even in his own presence. Instead he offers them a word of reassurance that will carry them around the world: even when they doubt, they can trust his direction. Even when they doubt, they can worship and teach and invite others to share the journey of discipleship. Even when they doubt, he will be with them, “to the end of the age” (28:20).


  • Can you relate to the disciples’ “both/and” experience of worship and doubt? Are there times when, if you were really honest, you doubt even as you witness God’s work? Even when you sense Christ’s presence? Even when you are actively worshiping?
  • Jesus had directed them to go to Galilee, and after his resurrection he met them there just as he promised. Now, in Matthew 28:19-20, he responds to their worship and their doubt with a new set of instructions—a Great Commission—and again promises that he will be with them. How is Jesus’s commissioning of his followers related to his reassurances to them?
  • How has Jesus shown you that you can trust him to be with you? How does this reassure you that can you follow his instructions, even when you feel doubtful?
  • What reassurance are you seeking from Jesus that would help you follow his commission today?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at

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