And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Mat 28:18-20)
The Great Commission that Jesus gave His disciples before He ascended to His Father has been the topic of many sermons, lectures, and lessons in recent years. And yet for all the teaching on the Great Commission there has been relatively little disciple-making going on among the rank and file of our churches. At the risk of using one more cliche, the Great Commission has become the Great omission.
There is however a deeper truth to the cliche than we may have previously thought. In all the teaching about the Great Commission there has been an omission of its great power. The motivating force which is the truth about the success of Jesus Christ has been omitted.
That omission is found in these words.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
These are the words of Jesus Christ Himself concerning Himself. These words are the victory speech of Jesus as He had defeated the enemies of sin, Satan, death, and hell. They are a declaration of a mission accomplished. They are the reason for Good News.
With these words Jesus tells His disciples that He has won back what Adam had previously lost. Adam had sinned away his right to rule over the earth and exercise dominion over it. Jesus had gained the right to rule the earth that Adam had forfeited. Jesus had defeated Satan, the serpent, the one who had stolen the the kingdom of earth from Adam. Jesus defeated the sin that Satan had introduced into the world and by which he reigned over mankind. Jesus defeated death, which had hung over mankind as the result of the reign of Satan. Jesus defeated hell, the just condemnation for those who live under the rule of sin. Jesus took the keys to death and hell, not to open them, but to lock them shut against those who would enter in. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth.
And now the big accomplishment of Jesus. Jesus brought God back to us! Adam, through deception, had forfeited his right to fellowship with his Creator. Jesus reconciles God and man by truth. This is the great truth of the Gospel. We have been justified and brought into a peaceful and friendly relationship with our Creator.
As we look around us though, something is wrong. Sin still exists. Mankind does not submit to the Lordship of Christ. People die. Does this mean that Christ was a failure? It cannot be, because He Himself tells us that all authority has been given to Him. The problem we encounter now is the problem of mankind. Even though the price has been paid, and Christ is the Lord of heaven and earth, men still refuse to bow to Him. And those who do not bow to Him as their King do not receive the blessings purchased by Him for humanity. When have we been asked to bow before Him? We are asked, no, commanded to bow to Him as Lord every time the sun rises, because He paid for that sunrise. We are commanded to bow before Him as our Lord whenever anything good ever happens to us, which is more often that not, because He has bought every good gift for us from the Father. And yet men still refuse to bow down, so He sends out His disciples into all the world to preach the Gospel of His kingdom authority, baptizing them into His kingdom and making them His subjects. Those who refuse to bow their knee in faith and repentance are guilty of high treason, those who shake off their chains are given eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.