Today in God’s Word
Genesis 29; Matthew 28
Today we read Matthew’s account of the resurrection and it concludes with the Great Commission. Looking forward to Paul’s letter to the Romans we can see at the opening that this resurrection was intended to be a declaration of God that this human, born of a woman like any other man, was not only the Son of Man, but he is the Divine Son of God himself (cf. Rom 1:3-4). Even more is the next statement that Paul makes in verse 5…It is as if Paul was thinking of Matthew’s account, which may have been written as much as seven years earlier.
Paul moves from the resurrection to the great commission just like our chapter in Matthew today. In Romans 1:5 he says that through Jesus “we” received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations. In the final three verses of Matthew Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Paul received his specific commission later on the road to Damascus (cf. Acts 9:1-19) but clearly he understands that the Great Commission consists of a few things:
- Grace is received as the divine ability to accomplish the impossible. The Apostles then, and we today, are not left to our own devices to accomplish this mission but we are empowered by the Spirit of God. Paul speaks of this empowering grace in himself in 1 Cor 15:10 and in others in 2 Cor 9:8.
- Paul specifically carries a rare apostleship that is shared by the others who knew Jesus and received his teaching directly. Today we carry on the commission of these Apostles with the same authority because the authority rested not in them but in Jesus who set them. We too have the Spirit of Christ and carry his authority to the nations (cf. John 17:18-21). In Rom 8:9-11 we see that the Holy Spirit is equally referred to as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus. We bear the mark of the same triune God that stood before the Apostles and issued this Great Commission.
- Jesus has all authority over all things in a unique way after his death and resurrection and it is upon this authority of the one and only God-Man that he gives us our charge. We can carry no higher authority with us as we carry out this mission. No order of any president or council or court or king or emperor gives the kind of authority that this order carries.
- Message of Faith-
- We have a specific message about Jesus and what he has said. It is the very word of the Son of God that we are to deliver and the message is obedience. We are to exhort all persons everywhere to listen to the voice of God in Jesus. We are to teach them clearly what has been spoken by God in Jesus. We are to exhort them to trust God and to take him at his word. The response we seek is an obedience of faith that says, “I joyfully obey the Lord because I trust that he loves me and he is wise and he has all authority to accomplish all that he has said.” This is far from an obedience to law that says, “I will comply with the law you have given in order to maintain my perceived position of innocence so that you will grant me the promised result.”
- A Cause-
- The specific goal is the fame of the name of Jesus. But Jesus presents a triune name here in Matthew. The glory of God is tied to Jesus in a special way and where Jesus is exalted, the entire Godhead is exalted. We do not deliver a mere message of setting captives free and coming our from under the wrath of God…this message is much greater than that. This message is that we get to come into communion with Jesus, who is the greatest name that can be named.
- A Target-
- We are not left aiming at tin cans in the backyard. Jesus has issued a command that we take the message to every tribe, language, people, and nation so that Rev 5:9 will come to pass sometime ahead of us. The gospel is not a message only for people who look like us and talk like us and act like us and have similar lives like us and the same physical capabilities like us and the same social status as us and the same hygiene as us and the same kind of problems as us. The gospel is for everyone and we have been given a command by the eternal God to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations (cf. Rom 1:5, 16:26).
Let us take hold of our mission in this life before our breath is gone and before we find that we have buried the talent in the ground rather than invest it.
Soli Deo Gloria!