Beginning in Georgia’s Amicalola State Park, a relatively unassuming path runs to the top of Springer Mountain. The hike is rigorous, ascending 2,000 feet over the course of 8.5 miles with particularly intense climbs near the end. Upon reaching the summit, however, hikers are summoned onward, for there you find the southern starting point of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches for another 2,181 miles.
By the time they encountered the resurrected Jesus atop the mountain in Galilee, His disciples had already hiked a rigorous path. They had left homes, families, and jobs to follow Him. They had traveled throughout Israel proclaiming the coming of God’s kingdom. And they had faced the danger of Jewish leaders and Roman imperial authorities. Upon reaching that peak, however, they were commanded onward. Jesus directed them to “go and make disciples of all nations” (v. 19).
For ancient Jews, “the nations” referred to all peoples beyond Israel. Jesus’ instructions are thus a command to go throughout the world. One could forgive the disciples if they felt a bit weary or daunted by the task ahead. How could this assortment of men—who had just failed spectacularly to support Him before His crucifixion—travel the globe and command foreign people to obey the teachings of a Jewish carpenter?
But Jesus offered something to propel them on their way—His presence. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (v. 20). The presence of Jesus Christ will always be with His followers, inspiring and empowering them to carry out His mission. The kingdom has come near. Let us carry forth His truth to the world, “baptizing them in the name of the Fa-ther and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything” He commanded (v. 20).
Tomorrow is New Year’s Day, a day on which many commit to resolutions that will guide them in the year ahead. What resolutions might help you to remain in the presence of Jesus and carry forth His truth to the world? Pray that God would guide you in the year ahead and help you to be a guide to others.