16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
– Matthew 28:16-20
Power of His Role
Discipleship is important. I personally have started reading Matthew 28 every day. I do this because the fight for lasting joy in this world is futile when searching anywhere but in the Word of God. Reading of the resurrection of Christ lifts my soul and reminds me of the hope of the future glorious resurrection that is to come because of Jesus’ defeat of sin, Satan, destruction, and death through His life-giving death and spirit-evoking resurrection. I am struck daily by the power of words in verses 16-20. Jesus appears to His disciples and I can just imagine how awe-struck they must have been. This man they have been following everyday who they knew was the Messiah had just been murdered. Fearing for their lives, they fled. They hid in fear for they knew that they were next. I can just imagine the disciples seeing Jesus in His body once again, walking towards them. I can visualize them just literally falling at His feet and kissing them in worship. They knew now that this man was in fact God and everything He had said now takes on a whole new meaning. However, it is interesting that “some doubted” (Matthew 28:17b). The words of Jesus that followed this worship and doubt are ground shaking. It gives me chills to even type these words: “And Jesus came and said to them ‘All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me'” (Matthew 28:18). Such power! In other words, Jesus is saying that He is Lord over everything! He says, “All of this is mine and I am Lord over every creature and every single man!” The theologian Abraham Kuyper once said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'” How true this is! By His resurrection and defeat of death, Jesus is proven worthy and true as Lord of all! What a grand declaration this is. It brings me true joy that lasts throughout the day to know that everything I do in the name of Jesus or in obedience to Jesus is not in vain since He is Lord of all! All authority has been given to Him! His obedience to the will of the Father gave Him such authority.
Vitality of Our Role
Therefore, when I am discouraged and tired from discipling and teaching the Word, I remind myself that it is by the command of this great name that I do so! Jesus, Lord of all, commands us to make disciples. Jesus, with all authority in heaven and on earth commands us to teach them to obey His commands. By His authority, Jesus sends us into a lost and dying world with urgent and dire spiritual and physical need. He says, “They do not know me, go show me!” There is nothing special about this calling as far as we are concerned. What is special about this command is the fact that the one who commands it has the authority to do so. If you follow Jesus, you are His disciple. If you are His disciple, then you are a disciple-maker. Why do we push this command of Jesus off as a special calling for only some super-spiritual people? The reason is that we are afraid. The fear of teaching others results from our fear of not having the wisdom or biblical knowledge to do so. Well, if this is true, then there should be an increase in the intensity of study of His Word. There should be an increase in the frequency of meditation. Prayer should double if not triple, or at least begin. The fear of going to all nations proclaiming the gospel and teaching His commands results from the fear of losing our lives. This can be a literal fear of dying, which should not exist in the life of a Christ-follower since death is the gateway to the greatest possible gain that there is. However, there is also the fear of losing our lives in the sense of giving up our daily routine of life in order to take the gospel to the spiritually dead in the world. The insinuation that this command of Christ is merely a suggestion for some results from a fear of self-denial. I am tempted myself when I look at my future to desire a normal life filled with summer vacations, cookouts, travelling with my kids for sports or music, etc. And I am not saying that these things are bad in themselves. Is it wrong to go on vacation? Of course not. Is it wrong to have your children involved in sports or other activities? I would say not. However, when these things and others take the place of or interfere with the spread of the gospel and the discipleship of those in our own communities and across the world, they become detrimental for us and those we are ignoring. Countless individuals die everyday without the gospel, many never hearing it. Their eternal death is on our heads. How long will we allow the blood of the spiritually dead to trickle down our faces? We claim to be so wise, yet we would rather spend years going to Disney World rather than impacting the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Local and Global Discipleship
I have seen how important discipleship is in a local setting. It greatly increases the faithfulness, assurance, holiness, and joy of both the one being discipled as well as the one who is teaching. God receives tremendous glory from this obedience and His children receive a joy that compares to none other. How much more vital is discipleship in the nations where most have never heard the gospel? As one of my brother’s in Christ whom I am currently discipling once said, “Haven’t most people living here already heard about Jesus?” I would have to agree with him. Yes, most have heard of Him. This does not excuse us from teaching and proclaiming His name locally. Jesus does not command us to forsake those in our own community. However, He does not save the spread of the gospel into all the earth for only a certain few. We are all as Christ-followers commanded to reach the 6,000+ unreached people groups with the gospel.
Do not fear! Jesus is Lord of all! He has all authority in heaven and on earth and it is by this authority that He sends us to teach and proclaim His gospel and His Word. He does not need us individually to accomplish this mission, but by His grace, He has chosen us. Praise Him for this today. Find a young or new believer to disciple, for as he or she grows their faith in God, your faith will increase as well as you read, study, meditate, worship, and pray together. Seek and pray for opportunities to go and make disciples of all nations. We have a Great Co-mission to accomplish before the end will come (Matthew 24:14). God has chosen to extend His grace and increase His glory in the nations through us as His vessels. We are not alone in this mission hence the title I have given: co-mission. We go and teach and proclaim and baptize by the authority of Jesus Christ who by His perfect life, obedient and willing death, and glorious and victorious resurrection has been given all authority in not only heaven, but on earth as well. Through us and by Him the unreached will be reached. Do not lose heart, be discouraged, get tired, fear, or give up, for we have the greatest encouragement from the Lord of lords and King of kings to close out the book of Matthew: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Go. Proclaim. Baptize. Disciple. Teach. Rejoice.
By His Grace — For His Glory — For our Joy