The Great Commission (part 1)

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Sep 04, 2009 by Alex Mekonnen | 0 Comments

Text: Matt. 28:18-20 

Mission is a reason for the existence of the church. For the risen and exalted Christ, mission was not a suggestion, it was not an advice given to the disciples, and it was not an AOB agenda of the new community. It was an imperative command of the savior. Hence, it is not an optional task of the church. It is the priority mandatory task of the church. As we live on this earth, it is our reason for being a Christian community. 

Let us go deep into the text:

I.  Authority.

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth…”  For the first time in his 33 yrs plus of his life on earth Jesus is talking about his authority. He was no longer the Messiah Isaiah described in chap. 53.

  • Who was despised and rejected by men. A man of sorrow and acquainted with grief.
  • Who was led as a lamb to the slaughter and as the sheep before it shearer is silent.
  • He no longer be mocked, slapped on the face or spit upon.
  • Jesus was not talking about a new authority that he never had. He was telling the disciples that he was given his former dominion, which he left willingly to save you and me. “For by him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for him” ( Col.1:16).


Understanding the political, religious, and cultural context of Jesus’ time enables us to comprehend and appreciate Christ’s claim of authority. Within one century, two persons with distinct difference of origin and personality claimed to be divine— Caesar and Jesus. “Augustus was Lord, Savior, Redeemer, and Liberator. He was divine, Son of God, God from God. And none of that was simply one-way propaganda enforced unilaterally. It was fully two ways ideology accepted multilaterally. It was Roman imperial theology, the ideological glue that held the empire dynamically together (Crossan and Reed (2004:4). 

During Jesus time, there were several temples in Roman colonies that were dedicated to the worship of the Roman kings. The temples had priests that conduct the worship and propagate the imperial religion. “Augusts was divine in four ways: 1) by ancestral descent from Venus and Anchises. 2)  by miraculous conception from Apollo and Atia. 3) by paternal adoption from the divine Julius Caesar. 4) by the official decree from the Roman Senate (Crossan and Reed 2004:160). 

When Christ commissioned the apostles to go to “the uttermost part of the world,” he wanted to make sure under whose authority they were working. The degree of their conviction of their faith, values in life, commitment to ministry, living as a community, etc. emanates from their allegiance to Christ. Hence, it was important for the apostles to know the scope of His authority. By saying “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me”, Jesus nailed the imperial cult of Rome in a coffin. The apostles had nothing to fear.

When you come to the Jews community, it was a high time of expectation for the fulfillment of Isaiah 40-55, where the Messiah will rule over the visible and the invisible cosmos. Satan will fall from heaven like a lightening rod, nations will bow down to the Lord of Lords, idols will come to nothing, wounds shall be healed, tears will be wiped, broken hearted shall be mended, sorrowful shall be joyful, the poor shall hear the good news, and the Holy Spirit shall fall upon God’s people. The Lord who can do such things should have authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus had it and he openly declared it to the apostles.

  • Jesus has authority to forgive your sin and my sin.
  • He has authority to give life and sustain it or take it away.
  • He has authority over death.
  • He has authority over demons—in the name of Jesus you can engage in spiritual warfare.
  • He has authority over nature. Suname and Katrina are a minute glimpse of his power.
  • Like the authority of Jesus, mission has two dimensions. It has earthly aspect and heavenly aspect. In both realms, we’re operating under the authority of the King of Kings.
  • We have to be fully aware of our context and see beyond our horizon—visible and invisible.
  • When we serve under the authority of Jesus, we get a knee jerking response from those who wants to keep the statuesque and tradition. As they served under the authority of Jesus, the apostles in the book of Acts shook the religious foundation of the Jews. They caused tremble to the throne of the Roman rulers, eventually it tumbled down.
  • Under the authority of Jesus, those who weep shall laugh, the marginal, widows, the cast out, and those who carry the heavy burden of sin, shall be forgiven and become the children of the living God. For those who seek God’s kingdom, the authority of Jesus Christ is to save, to heal, to restore, and to secure.
  • As a Christian minster and a missionary you’re serving under His authority.

It is very important to comprehend and depend on the authority of Jesus Christ as we continue to serve him. It is His authority that enabled the apostles and the early church to overcome the opposition from the Jews, the threat from the Romans, and the ridicules of the philosophers. When you grasp the scope and magnitude of Jesus’ authority, like Paul, you triumphantly say “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

Note: For the next four or five months, I’ll be writing on Mathew 28:18-20—To Go, Making Disciples, All Nations, Teaching, The Presence of Christ will be my topics. Make sure to follow the sequence in order to have a good understanding of the Great Commission.


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