I have a confession to make. Though I have read, studied, taught and tried to live by the “Great Commission” command, it has taken all these years to see Matthew 28:19-20 in the proper context of verses 16 to 18. For the past two days we have looked at being with Jesus in view of success in missions (v.16), and proper worship (v.17) as being essential to effective missions. Now we come to verse 18; Jesus proclaims that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to” Him.
Just so we confirm in our minds the absoluteness and universal character of His authority, I will give two other references. The first is spoken by Jesus; “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father” (11:27). The second is written by John; “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand” (John 3:35). There are other Scriptures, but I am limited with space here. The apostles recognized this authority after the Spirit was given (Acts 2:36; Philippians 2:9-11).
“Before giving the [Great] Commission, Jesus first established His absolute, pervasive authority, otherwise the command would have seemed hopelessly impossible for the disciples to fulfill, and they might ignore it” (1). Submission to this authority was not an option for His disciples who became apostles (sent with a message). In knowing that Jesus’ authority stood behind the command, they were confident that Jesus would provide the resources, guidance and power.
Have we failed to understand and submit to the authority behind Jesus’ command to “GO”? If we put these three elements to work through active faith, our missionary attempts would reach the unreached quickly and effectively.
(1) John McArthur, The McArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 24 - 28, Moody Bible Institute, 1989, page 339.
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