June 2016 Newsletter
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20
These were the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before He ascended into heaven. He had completed His time on earth. He had fulfilled His purpose. Through His death on the cross, He had provided the sacrifice needed to reconcile mankind to God. He who knew no sin had become the sin offering for the world, so that all who believe in Him could become the righteousness of God. Now the disciples were to be His ambassadors, proclaiming the gospel and imploring men and women to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 5:20-21)
Jesus begins by telling them that all authority has been given to Him. He has been seated at the right hand [of the Father] in heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Eph. 1:21) From this position of authority, He commands them to proclaim the gospel.
Jesus had called them - ordinary people, like you and me, from every walk of life – to be with Him (Mark 3:14). For three and a half years, they had travelled with Him, observed Him, heard Him. They had listened to His teachings, they had watched Him perform miracles, heal the sick, cast out demons, and even raise the dead. At times He had rebuked them, when their own ideas and ambitions had taken over. They had shared in his popularity, as the crowds in Jerusalem welcomed Him with cheers of “Hosanna!”, and they had deserted Him when the shouts later changed into “Crucify Him!” When they had lost all hope, He had appeared to them – alive, risen from the dead. He had restored their joy by conquering the last enemy, death (1 Cor. 15:26) and putting an end to all authority and power that would oppose God.
Next, Jesus commissions them to go out into the world and to call others - from Jerusalem, to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8) As He had called them and discipled them, He now charges them to disciple others: to tell them the message of the cross, to bring them into a relationship with God, to baptise them as a sign of their commitment, and to teach them to observe all they have learnt from Him. As He had shared His life with them, they are now to share their lives with others.
Finally, Jesus gives them a promise: ... and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. He gives them a formidable task: He challenges a handful of ordinary men to bring a lost world back to God. They had seen the unbelief and the open hostility He had encountered. He had warned them that they too would experience opposition. But He also gave them the promise that He would never leave them nor forsake them. If they now do what He has commissioned them to do they can be sure of His presence wherever they went. Before going to the cross, He had promised to send them the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who would live in them. He would come to them so that they would never again be alone. (John 14:15-18). Now they are to wait for the Spirit, and when He has come, they will be able to carry out their commission in His power. (Acts 1:8)
Do we want to experience His presence? Do we want to know His power and authority? Then let us hear His voice that calls us to Go and make disciples of all the nations ... As we obey His command, we will also hear His promise ... and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Who will you disciple? Who will you tell about Jesus? Who will you show what it means to live for Him?