As we finish up our Christology, we must take a good look at the commission of the Christ.
Matthew 28:16 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 int 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.”
After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to hundreds of followers during a span of 40 days. At the end of this time, the disciples saw him ascending into heaven. His final words were words of sending the disciples out. Matthew’s account is what is usually quoted. Let’s look at some of the key things to note:
- No Coverups – Matthew does a wonderful job of not covering up the flaws of these disciples. If you wanted to paint a rosy picture, don’t tell the story highlighting that you don’t have 12 disciples anymore (because one of them just committed suicide for betraying and handing over the Savior to torturers and executioners), and don’t say that some of the disciples were still doubting. Matthew does not shrink from the truth of the shaky spiritual condition of this group at this time (they still awaited the Holy Spirit).
- The Authority – If you have memorized verse 19-20, go back and get 18 memorized. ALL authority has been given to Jesus, so when you go, you do not go in fear.
- Go and Tell, Not Come and See – The American Church has gotten this confused. It is not come to our church and hear our preacher to get saved. We are going to you. It is tragic that so much of our churches are full of unwilling evangelists because we have taught them to let the professionals do the work. It’s the commission for all of us, not the most “talented” communicators.
- All Nations – It’s all nations. Yes, the United States is important. And so are all the countries in Africa. In fact, Jesus has promised he will not return until all nations have heard this gospel (Matt. 24:14).
- Baptism – Yes, baptism is important. This speaks to people being immersed, but it signifies connecting people to a local church. This is a symbol to be shown in front of others to keep them accountable to their professed life change that has taken place. We must be careful not to capitalize on an emotional moment and have someone baptized that has not been questioned to see if a conversion is legitimate. America is full of people dripping from a spontaneous baptism that may have never truly been converted. The false assurance given from a church to which they are not connected is a damning one. Baptism is also meant to happen after conversion, but it is not something to do every time you want a spiritual pickup. If you have a serious refocus of your life, and you want to do this as an act of obedience, that is great. But you shouldn’t do it every year or every so many months as I have recently learned from friends is a growing trend.
- Make Disciples, Not Converts – Unfortunately, we have misinterpreted Jesus. Once someone has professed Christ, the job is not complete — it’s just beginning! We are called to make disciples, not converts. I love evangelism reports and numbers focusing on salvations, but that is not the finished product. It’s scary to think how many people are a number of some evangelism effort that may not be saved or ever truly discipled.
- Immanuel – When Jesus came, he was promised as “Immanuel” — “God with us.” And as he ascends, he makes a promise that doesn’t change – he is still with us as we go.
Yes, Jesus. We will go. Till you come, we will go. Till all may know.