And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.Matt. 28:18-20
Among the many beautiful things in this passage, there are two that I want to point out to you today. First, I want to point out the grammar of the Great Commission. (I’ll try to make this not only painless, but maybe even a little interesting…) Reading the Great Commission in English, we may be tempted to unpack the Lord’s commission in an order that looks something like this: (1) Go (2) Make disciples (3) Baptize (4) Teach. While there is certainly an order in the Commission, reading the Lamb’s orders of conquest in such a strict chronological order would leave out a really important aspect of the Great Commission. The grammar does give us an order, but it is not the one I enumerated. Rather, it looks like this:
All authority in heaven and earth was given to Jesus. Grammatically, this precedes the next two points. Philippians 2:9 (Read Phil 2:5-11) explains that God exalted Jesus and gave him THE NAME (not A name…THE NAME) that is above all names. God the Father is giving his Son his promised blessing. Jesus accomplished this by his perfect obedience and resurrection. Since I know you read Philippians 2:5-11, I know that you read that the Son of God had no need to go through all of this for himself. He did this for his bride! (You can now read Philippians 2:1-4 to really emphasize what I am saying.)
The “Go” in the Commission is paired with “make disciples.” In fact, you can read those two parts as, “As you are going and making disciples.” Paired with the authority the Father “gave” Jesus, you can read 1-3 like this: “As you are going and making disciples on the basis of my authority, which the Father gave me…” We have, then, the source and grounds for our going and making disciples. Our going is our living out what God has appointed for us. It is our daily life. We have the purpose of our going, which is making disciples. All of this proceeds upon the Lord’s authority that was given to him. His death, resurrection, and Kingship is the basis and power of our living the life he has given for the glory of his kingdom.
Baptizing and teaching go together. This defines the actual going and discipling of the nations. The actions are qualified actions. That is, Jesus specified what he meant. Baptism is “into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” It is a relationship into THE NAME of the Triune God. The teaching is not general teaching, but teaching all of God’s commandments. It is to teach the whole counsel of God. It is to proclaim the whole of God’s revealed will for our salvation. It is to proclaim the reconciliation that Christ has accomplished for his bride. It is to instruct in holiness so that the bride may be made fit for her Groom.
The second and last point I want to share with you is the divine declaration at the end. Jesus uses the familiar I AM formula. In the middle of that formula we find the words, “with you.” Literally, “I – with you – AM.” Jesus is telling us that when we take the gospel to the world, when we are confronted by Satan, Hell, and the World who are taking their stand against the LORD and against his Anointed, they will not succeed. For even the gates of Hades (death/the grave) cannot withstand the authority, power, and love of God for his elect. He will speak (by the word preached and taught) and the dead (in trespasses and sin) will hear and will live. “I AM the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. (John 11:25-26). Not even death can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
Today, Christian, live the life God has given you. Whatever your circumstance, God has said that nothing takes place apart from his sovereign rule. Live your life by his grace. Walk in his love and shine for his glory. Let the whole world know why God was found lying in a manger.
Did you ever imagine that a feeding trough could hold immeasurable love?
Soli Deo Gloria.