“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came 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, 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 28:16-20).
📷: Jen Palmer
In the above passage, Jesus declared that all authority had been given to Him in heaven and on earth. I would have expected Him to follow this declaration up with: “Therefore, I will go and make disciples of all nations.” This would have made sense. After all, if it was His authority then it should be His mission. However, such is not what He said. Rather, He followed the declaration regarding His authority with an instruction to His disciples to get the job done: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” He directed. In short, it would be His authority but their mission. How does this work?
Let me explain. What Jesus was declaring was this: I am the Head. You are My body (Ephesians 1:22-23). Therefore, My authority is your authority. Through My death and resurrection, I have achieved absolute victory over the devil and the kingdom of darkness. I have annihilated sin and death. Because you believe in Me, My victory is tantamount to your victory.
What is Jesus doing here? He is multiplying Himself! Let me give you an example. In His Name is in the process of registering a branch in another African nation. This will enable us to work more effectively across the continent. In order to do so, our South African board of directors – on which I naturally sit – needs to appoint a representative in that nation and sign a document that gives them power of attorney. In that power of attorney, we have to list what they are authorised to do. Things like purchasing assets, hiring staff, renting premises, contracting services etc. We are giving authority to another party to act on our behalf. We are in short, duplicating ourselves. We are the head and that person is the body. For as long as the power of attorney stands, they are our hands and feet in that nation.
This is exactly what Jesus is doing in Matthew 28. He is saying: “I have authority over the devil and his demons. Now, I give you power of attorney. You go and make disciples of all nations!” What does that power of attorney authorise us to do? We are given a good run down in Mark 16:15-16: Preach the Gospel! Heal the sick! Cast out demons! Raise the dead! Set the captives free! We are authorised to do all this, dear friend. In fact, we are authorised to send all manner of darkness skedaddling, regardless of whether it is attacking someone else or ourselves. When we say, “in the name of Jesus!” we are waving our power of attorney in the face of the devil. We are reminding him of his defeat and that we are blood-bought, Spirit-filled, fully-authorised representatives of the Saviour of this world. He then has no choice but to remove his grubby fingers from whichever cookie jar he is trying to plunder. In fact, we are more than representatives of Christ. We are His co-heirs and fellow children of God (Romans 8:16-17; Hebrews 2:11-12). We are members of His family. How thrilling!
I love how Jesus ended His discourse in Matthew 28: “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This is no typical power of attorney. While we are given the authority, the granter of that authority – Jesus – remains forever with us. He does not expect us to complete our mission alone. He makes a home in our hearts. He fills us with His Spirit. Yes, we walk in His authority, but, we also walk hand in hand with Him. Come on, dear believer. Let’s get the job done!