8 Minute Read
TODAY’S BIBLE READING:
TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):
Matthew 28:18-20 (CSB): “Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 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, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):
Matthew 28:18-20 is often called “The Great Commission.” The words are some of the last that Jesus said before He ascended to Heaven.
So, what do they mean?
Let’s look at them, phrase-by-phrase.
V. 18 “Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.'”
If you read Philippians 2:5-11, you will see that Jesus humbled Himself by becoming a man, even to the point of death on the cross. But, in verse 9, because Jesus had done what the Father had given Him to do, He was exalted once again.
In Matthew 28:18, we read that Jesus’ humiliation had come to an end. His exaltation had begun. All authority over all things was rightfully His.
So, among the other things that are implicated in Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18, one of the clearest meanings is that since He had all authority, He had the right to give the Great Commission and expect complete compliance.
Doing what Jesus commands in the following two verses is not optional. It is imperative if we are in the Kingdom of God and Jesus is really our King.
V. 19 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, …”
Jesus tells us to “go.” We aren’t simply to sit, soak, and soar in our churches. We are to go to where lost people are.
What are we to do as we go?
“Make disciples of all nations.”
We aren’t told to simply get people saved. We are told to make disciples.
What’s the difference?
A saved person has made a decision to follow Jesus. A disciple has made that decision but is making good on his desire – He really is becoming more like Jesus.
So, in Jesus’ words, He is telling us to share the Gospel with people and then help them grow as Jesus-followers. We are to help them understand God’s Word and how it applies to their life.
Further, Jesus tells us that we aren’t to limit our work to our own nation. We are to “make disciples of all nations.”
There is no room for prejudice within the Christian worldview. We must reach people in our own nation and culture while we are reaching out with the Gospel to people in other nations and cultures.
In fact, Acts 1:8 tells us that we are to be engage people in four concentric circles, simultaneously. I will add parenthetical phrases to show how I have defined the concentric circles for the church I pastor …
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (people in our local city/county), in all Judea (people in our state) and Samaria (people in the other 49 states), and to the end of the earth (every country outside of America).”
As I write this, while the church I pastor gives money to make discipleship happen in all four of the concentric circles, we are actively involved in going to our Jerusalem (as we engage in Gospel ministries in Murray/Calloway County), to our Samaria (as we partner with a growing church plant in Denver, CO), and to the ends of the earth (as we partner with a church in Jalapa, Guatemala).
Again, we aren’t simply desiring to see people get saved. We recognize that Jesus called us to make disciples – which means to get them saved and then help them grow in Christlikeness.
V. 19 “… baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
What is baptism?
Essentially it is a public act that shows what has already happened in the heart of the believer. Baptism is the way we go public with our faith.
But, baptism, at its essence, is an act that identifies us with Christ. Just as He died, was buried, and rose again, so baptism shows that when we were saved, we died to ourselves, our old self was buried (as we are placed in the water), and we are risen to walk in newness of life (as we are brought out of the water).
Baptism is a beautiful picture that enables us to identify with Jesus as we demonstrate publicly what has already happened in our heart.
V. 20 “teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. …”
We get back to the theme of making disciples with these words. Jesus told us to teach new believers what He has commanded and teach them to obey what Jesus has said.
While salvation is essentially an invitation into the relationship of the Trinity and fellow believers, it is also a call to obedience. In fact, we demonstrate our love for Jesus by doing what He tells us to do (John 14:15).
Friend, any “gospel” that says that someone can pray a prayer for salvation but then continue to live for themselves with no desire to follow and obey Jesus is not the biblical Gospel. The true Gospel calls us to “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him” (Matthew 16:24).
V. 20 “… And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Will it be difficult to follow Jesus? Yes, there will be times when it gets tough. If you live in a country where Christianity is outlawed or persecuted, it will be incredibly tough.
But, Jesus ended His command with a comforting promise. He said that as we obey Him and as we make disciples, He will be with us. We’re not alone. We are never alone.
No matter what we go through, we are going through it with Jesus. In this, we can take heart.
So, how long has it been since you have shared the Gospel with someone? Is there someone you need to tell about Jesus? Why not make yourself restfully available to the Lord as you watch for opportunities He will send your way to obey Him.