Two Life-Changing Words
In what we commonly call the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus instructed his disciples, and by implication all believers, to go and make disciples of all ethnic (people) groups. The two words that are the key to understanding this whole passage are “make disciples”. All the other commands, such as go, baptise, and teach, flow out of the central command to make disciples. This was Jesus’ brilliant blueprint to save the world: make disciples who would make disciples who would make disciples … until he returns.
But his commission is prefaced by two other words that, to me, should fill us with courage and confidence as we endeavour to fulfil this mandate. These two words are the very first words of his commission: all authority. After meeting with his disciples on the mountain, Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-19). We are commissioned to go and make disciples on the basis that Jesus has all authority.
As fully Man and fully God, for Jesus to complete his redemptive mission, the penalty for sin had to be paid, and the enemy had to be defeated and disarmed. As the representative of the human race, Jesus achieved this dual purpose on the cross. Through the complete work of the cross, which includes his death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus redeemed us from sin and he broke Satan’s power (see Colossians 2:13-15). It is summarised perfectly for us by John in 1 John 3:5 and 8 where it says, “He appeared so that he might take away our sins …The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work”. This means that Jesus has all authority over every dominion (visible and invisible) and every power (human or demonic). There is no higher or greater authority.
This opened the way for the church, through the work of mission, in the authority of Jesus’ name and in the power of the Spirit, to deliver millions of prisoners Satan has in chains.
Therefore, let us remember that we do not engage in missions under our own authority, but under his absolute authority. We do not conduct mission from a position of defeat, but from a position of victory. We do not go in our own strength, but in his strength, with his enabling and empowerment. The Gospel we preach is not a feeble, powerless presentation, but “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
May we remember these two liberating words: All Authority!
International Director of World Outreach since January 2017.
Bruce has been married to Fiona since 1983 and lives in Melbourne. They have three grown children and one granddaughter.