Go and Make Disciples!

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

“In short, the rod of Moses was a rod of power, a rod of authority. But it could not avail to hush the murmurings of the children of Israel; nor yet to bring the people through the desert. Grace alone could do that; and we have the expression of pure grace–free, sovereign grace—in the budding of Aaron’s rod. That dry, dead stick was the apt figure of Israel’s condition, and indeed of the condition of every one of us by nature. There was no sap, no life, no power. One might say, ‘What good can ever come of it?’ None whatever, had not grace come in and displayed its quickening power. So it was with Israel in the wilderness; so is it with us now. How were they to be led along from day to day? How were they to be sustained in all their weakness and need? The answer is found in Aaron’s budding rod. If the dry, dead stick was the expression of (our) barren and worthless condition; the buds, blossoms and fruit set forth that living and life-giving grace and power of God on which was based the priestly ministry that alone could bear the congregation through the wilderness … Priesthood alone could supply what was needed; and bring fruit out of a dry rod … All ministry in the Church is the fruit of divine grace—the gift of Christ, the Church’s head.” -C H Macintosh
Wow, how on earth does one do any justice in commenting on these powerful verses? We are first told by our Lord Jesus that “all authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to Him. We are also told our greatest calling from God is to “go and make disciples” in His powerful authority. And finally, we are told that the Lord Jesus will never leave us as He firmly states “I am with you always.” This is the Great Commission!

In these concluding words of Matthew, our Lord sends His disciples (and His every other subsequent follower) forth with the firm directive of “Go and make disciples.” We are to do this in His all-encompassing mighty authority. The key to this commissioning is the authority of Jesus. And the way that we receive His authority is through our knowledge and worship of the One whose name we bear. We cannot give what we do not possess. We must make a daily divine appointment to be filled–an appointment that will enable us to be respond as Jesus would to all that we encounter that day. Like manna, we are to collect the grace sufficient to meet our needs for the day. We cannot gobble up and hoard–it does not work that way. Our God desires to meet with us daily. Yet He is will never force Himself upon us. We simply are the great losers when we neglect to meet with Him. His desire is to empower and equip us to splash His grace upon all in our spheres of influence. We do not have to sit around scratching our heads wondering what direction to take. He will make it clear. We must be ready, going forth in Christ’s power and authority. If we try to go in our own strength, our works will be fruitless. I am reminded of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians regarding Jesus’ authority:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:18-23)

To be sure, this same power is made readily available to all believers in the present day. We are to make the command of Christ our rule as well. As Jesus sends us out as His ambassadors, we go forth in His authority. He is the Lord of all. He has all power in heaven. He has authority and power over the angels and He has the power of intercession with the Father. He has all power on earth as well by the ministry of reconciliation. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians:

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:11-12)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

At the conclusion of our verses today, we are sweetly reminded of God’s continual spiritual presence.

“The God of Israel, the Saviour, is sometimes a God that hideth himself but never a God who absents himself; sometimes in the dark, but never at a distance.” -Matthew Henry
The Comforter abides with us. He is not against us, rather for us. He is at our side and takes our side. He is our very present help. He bears us up and pleads our cause. His eye is ever on us. He is with us in all service and in all sufferings–in all joy and in all sorrows. He makes our ministry effective and triumphant. All this is a continual favor even to the end of the world. His presence is constantly with us–all day, every day without intermission. Amazing!

Take It to Heart

“All souls belong to Him, and to Him every heart and knee must bow, and every tongue must confess Him to be Lord.” (Matthew Henry)