[Sept 29]--Famous Last Words

Matt. 28:16-20

These last words in Matthew are Jesus’ final instructions to us before he went back to the Father. They’re famously called “The Great Commission,” and they have quite a bit of meaning, much more than my poor resources can really handle, but here goes. . .

Our Lord starts off with an incredible claim, one which is both a comfort and a challenge for us. Not some, not most, not almost all, but all authority in heaven and on earth has been placed under Jesus’ feet by the Father. This should be a comfort to us, since the One in charge is our beloved Brother, he who showed his love for us by bleeding and dying for us. This is who’s in charge: Not kings, not presidents, not dictators, and certainly not chance. But it’s also a challenge, because it leads into explicit instructions for us.

As someone once famously put it, every time you read a “therefore” in Scripture, you should notice what it’s “there for.” All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, and therefore. .  . what? This should lead to what action on our part? We're given three things to do. The first is to go and make disciples. This might come as a shock to some folks, but showing a good example of Christlikeness and waiting for them to come to you and ask you “Why are you so different from other people” is not mentioned here in God’s evangelism program. Not that our lifestyle isn’t important, but we have to go to them. Interestingly, sharing the Good News with them is implied in the “making disciples” part. Obviously you can’t make disciples without making converts, but just getting people saved isn't the ultimate purpose. The purpose is to make obedient followers of Christ.

The second step is baptism, which is a public commitment for the disciple to make. It’s a public announcement that he's now a follower of Jesus, showing that the old life is gone and the new one is here now.

Finally, we're to teach them to obey what our Lord commanded us. Did you notice the final goal here, what we're working towards with all this? Obedience.

And then we end on another word of encouragement, giving a kind of parenthesis that goes with his word of authority he started with. He's in complete charge of everything, and he's with us. Bringing all nations into submission to Christ seems to be a pretty daunting task, but we aren’t alone. While we’re working, he’s working with us and through us and before us. He’s here, right now. What part is he calling you to play in all this?

Lord Jesus, when I look at the state of the world we’re in, it looks like we have so far to go. I’m really glad that you’re in charge of all this, and that you’re with us. Whatever part you want me to play in it, wherever you’re sending me, the answer’s “yes.”

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