Summary: A sermon to challenge believers to witness for Christ.
"The Last Command"
Matthew 28:16-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
INTRODUCTION: Since this is the last Sunday morning service of 2013 it seems appropriate to me that since the Lord led me to preach last week about the advent of Jesus to this earth with all its implications for us that this week I would feel led to share a message about the last thing Jesus said to His disciples before He left the earth to resume His rightful position in heaven, His last words to them before His ascent, His last command if you will.
I. THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST
The first point I would make is that it is important to note that when Jesus claims all power (authority) in heaven and in earth that He claims for Himself that which can only belong to God. He is therefore asserting that He is divine, that He is equal with the Father. Second, and just as important is the question, (What authority can be "given" to one who already is omnipotent?) The answer lies in the authority that comes to Him by virtue of His finished work here upon earth. Robertson's Word Pictures are helpful here:
"All authority (pāsa exousia). Jesus came close to them (proselthōn) and made this astounding claim. He spoke as one already in heaven with a world-wide outlook and with the resources of heaven at his command. His authority or power in his earthly life had been great (Mat_7:29; Mat_11:27; Mat_21:23.). Now it is boundless and includes earth and heaven.
Hath been given (edothē) is a timeless aorist (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 836f.). It is the sublimist of all spectacles to see the Risen Christ without money or army or state charging this band of five hundred men and women with world conquest and bringing them to believe it possible and to undertake it with serious passion and power. Pentecost is still to come, but dynamic faith rules on this mountain in Galilee."
His authority would involve three things. First, it would speak to:
a. His mediatorial authority in the church
He is the "great high priest" who is ever interceding at the right hand of the Father. He is greater than Aaron, greater even than Melchezedec of whom the Scriptures say, "that he had neither beginning of days nor end of life..."
Galatians 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
THE RIGHT NAME OPENS DOORS
Mark Roberts wrote of a time when he visited the Capitol as a guest of Congressman John Campbell. As long as he was with the congressman, he could walk freely around the Capitol, entering many areas that were reserved "for authorized personnel only," reserved for members of Congress and their guests. He could enter those places, not because of who he was or because of what he had done, but because of who Congressman Campbell was. The name "Congressman John Campbell" opened doors. So it is when we come before God in the name of Jesus.
Praying in Jesus' name is a recognition that he is our mediator, that we do not deserve an audience with the Father. It is a recognition that we only have authority to come to the Father because Jesus, our High Priest, has prepared the way for us. He died on the cross to save us. It means that we know we are unworthy of approaching the throne of grace on our own without our advocate. The name of Jesus opens doors. Mark Stepherson
b. His managerial authority over the church
Paul calls Jesus "...the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;" 1 Timothy 6:15
He is the "head" of the church and therefore governs all things to the church.
Ephesians 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
c. His ministerial authority for the church
1 Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.