Summary: Matthew used the Great commission to emphasize the authority, priority, and the assurance behind Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations.
May 18, 2008
Trinity Sunday/First Sunday after Pentecost [White]
All scripture marked ESV: The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mt 28:16-20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
On May 2, 2008 the USS North Carolina was commissioned by the US Navy. The 337 foot long submarine has a crew of 144 and a flexible mission to aid in the fight against Global Terrorism.
During the commissioning ceremony, Navy Secretary Donald Winter said
"We must remain vigilant and be prepared to face the challenges that risk surprising us in the decades ahead,…With USS North Carolina, the nation has made an investment in our safety and in our peace. She now joins the world’s greatest Navy and will be cast into a wide range of missions." (FOX News, May 3, 2008)
By the authority of the US Navy, the USS North Carolina was assigned to serve as a tool to protect the US and also to serve as an agent of peace.
As with any assignment, the crew will need Direction, Presence, Authority, Assurance from its leadership, from the command levels to the American people.
As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have also been commissioned to participate in a great assignment. An assignment to go and make disciples. This assignment through the years has been called the Great Commission.
This morning we open our Bibles to the 28th chapter in Matthew.
Matthew used the Great commission to emphasize the authority, priority, and the assurance behind Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations.
Earlier in this chapter, he describes how Jesus arose from the dead. Now, Matthew tells the story of how Jesus gathered all of his disciples together. These were the disciples that where with him in the Garden before he was taken to die. These were the same disciples that watched him walk on water. These are the same disciples that saw him heal the sick and made the lame to walk. These were the same disciples that asked him to teach them how to pray.
Now Jesus gathers them together once more to speak this word of commissioning to them.
Look with me at Matthew 28:16-20:
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:16-20, ESV)
Jesus commands that the Great Commission be a priority for us.
How much of a priority is the Great Commission in your life? This morning, could be the day that you accept this mission to make disciples. We all participate in different ways, but we all must be apart of this mission.
As we look at this passage, we see that
1. We have been GIVEN a Complete Authority
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Mt. 28:18, ESV)
The authority Jesus is above all other authorities. In fact, all other authority is established by him, so truly his authority is above all others.
In the military, we are very familiar with Authority figures. All of our authority results from the decisions made by the people of the United States, then to the constitution, then to the President and Congress that are to act on the authority, we the people give them.
In America, we sometimes forget how strange that is for non-Americans. In most cultures the authority rests in one individual. This is changing over time—but that fact remains that this idea of the people in the authority over their government is amazingly uncommon.
Jesus says “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given” to him. This is above all governments, above all peoples, above all order, and even above the natural laws.
Romans 13:1 says that
… there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Ro 13:1, ESV)
Jesus has authority over all. So with this authority, shouldn’t we listen to his commands?
We listen to the commands of our commanders.
We listen to the commands of our President.
We listen to the commands of the people.
We should listen to the commands of the authority over all of these.
We are familiar with authority and Christ supersedes them all. We who follow Christ have surrendered our all to Him. The very least we can do is follow His Great Commission.