Matthew 28 : 18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
What is Jesus suggesting in this passage? Is he saying he wants us to go visit all over the earth converting people and conducting baptisms? How is that possible? Let's look at how the passage begins.
First, Jesus confirms that He has been given authority not only in heaven but here on earth as well. Who has given this authority to Jesus? God Himself has! Authority is either given or not given. Having been given authority, Jesus has the power to grant authority as well. The second sentence in the passage seems to suggest that as He was given authority, so Jesus is passing this authority to His disciples. What is His command? He is charging His disciples to spread the good news of Jesus and His teachings not just to the people of Israel but to the entire world. As with being baptized into a new life, a new beginning through water, the disciples are to be a witness to those who don’t yet know God so they too may experience a new life, a new beginning in Jesus name. And, just as they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, so too does the Holy Spirit go with them, equipping them for the task at hand; a task they are not suited themselves to complete without divine assistance. Jesus finishes the passage by promising that as long as His disciples are bringing good news to those who hunger for new life, He will be with them until the end of time.
How does this apply to us? Are we to journey as the disciples did and bring the word of God to those who don’t know him? To some, the call to witness to people in far away lands will be given. To others, probably not. It is the Spirit that compels us to individual discipleship. As the Spirit moves within my life, I feel called to be His witness to those around me…..to my neighbors who live near me, to my co-workers with whom I work alongside, to those I meet daily in my walk through life who might need the light of Christ in their life at that moment. We don’t often need to travel far to come across someone who doesn’t know God or whose personal relationship may be far apart from Him. Jesus gives us authority to be a witness to those just as he commanded His disciples to go and be witnesses. Along the way, as we witness to others in Jesus name, He has promised to be there with us in our efforts. We have been given authority just as His disciples were given authority to spread the good news.
What does spreading the good news look like? How are we to make disciples of all nations? It can be something as simple as talking to someone about God, about Jesus’ sacrifice and forgiveness of sins, grace, mercy and eternal life. It could be praying with someone who is in need of prayer. It could be answering questions about faith, heaven, and the trinity. It could also be casting a huge light on how live your own life, walking with God, that gets someone to see and ask what it is about our God that allows us to live in peace and love. What a beautiful gift we have been given. The gift of authority has been handed down from God so we can spread light into a dark world. Authority gives us the freedom to speak of Jesus, in Jesus’ name. This passage allow us the freedom to be a light to the world just as the disciples were a light in their time.