This is the second part in a series about the Great Commission. Read last week’s blog here.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” -Matthew 28:18
What Jesus laid out in the Great Commission is a behemoth of a task. He has called His followers to forgo comfort in order to take the gospel to the nations and disciple those who believe, asking those believers to publicly declare their faith in Jesus and teaching them to not only know His commands but to obey them.
The Great Commission is a call to sacrifice, self-denial, risk, and great faith. It is not a call to be taken lightly, nor is it given lightly.
Were any other man to give this commission, the mission would have likely been abandoned at this point. The reason Jesus was able to give the command and expect obedience is because He prefaces it with a bold declaration: He has all authority in Heaven and on Earth.
That declaration establishes Jesus’ right to give the commission and every believer’s justification for carrying it out.
The Exalted King
Joseph and David were once ordinary men. They were both shepherds leading unextraordinary lives. Most of Joseph’s brothers hated him, and David was Jesse’s youngest son. Neither men were born into authority, and no one had reason to listen to them.
But God allowed both men to be raised to positions of authority. Pharaoh made Joseph his second-in-command and gave him power over all of Egypt as he prepared for a great famine (Genesis 41:40-43). Samuel anointed David to be king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:12-13).
Jesus also seemed ordinary. The Son of a carpenter, He didn’t appear to have the stature of a king. But unlike Joseph and David, Jesus was born with a Heavenly authority, and His position was confirmed by God.
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” -Philippians 2:9-11
As great of men that Joseph and David were, Jesus surpasses them. Joseph’s and David’s authority was appointed to them; Jesus’ was given at birth. On Earth, He was God incarnate. In Heaven, He sits at the right hand of the Father. His authority was foretold long before His earthly birth.
“‘In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.’” -Daniel 7:13-14
All human kings have had power over a piece of Earth. The reign of Jesus—the King of Kings—extends to all of Earth and all of Heaven. If believers follow earthly leaders, how much more should they obey the voice of the Son of God who reigns over everything? No higher authority could have commissioned believers to go and make disciples.
The Heavenly Warrant
Matthew 28:18 is not only Jesus’ bold declaration of His authority. It is also what pastor and author John Piper calls a “warrant.” A warrant gives someone authorization to do something. Courts grant search warrants for law enforcement to go into private property and find evidence. Courts are the ones to grant such warrants because they have been given the authority to do so.
This verse is the warrant for followers of Christ to go into the world and proclaim the gospel. Believers have been authorized to go to the lost—at home, abroad, and everywhere—to declare Jesus as the Savior of the world.
“Jesus has all authority. That’s why He has a right to say, ‘Go everywhere.’” -John Piper
The word “Therefore” in the following verse is in response to the declaration in Matthew 28:18. Because Jesus has all authority, we are therefore warranted to do what He says.
The Obedient Response
To receive such a warrant and to do nothing with it is to ignore the authority Who gave it. The Great Commission is not the great suggestion, and it should never be confused as such.
Jesus’ authority should not intimidate believers but should comfort them knowing the One who is above all rulers is the One giving the commission. Having the backing of the Prince of Peace should empower His people to joyfully carry out His final command—even as enormous of a task as it is.
Respond in obedience. Take the warrant, and use it to proclaim the name of Jesus everywhere.