Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on 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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:16–20)
These words of Jesus to his disciples speak to us today as we continue this disciple-making mission in our time and in our communities. In a season of weariness and uncertainty, when we’re being stretched thin, when we’re plagued by a pandemic, racial tensions, and political mayhem, it’s critical we remember Jesus’s mission-empowering words. Jesus says he has all authority. He calls believers to make disciples, but disciple-making only happens by his power.
God’s Authority over All
Acts 29 believes one of the best ways to make disciples is by planting healthy, multiplying churches. But making disciples of Jesus requires utter dependence on Jesus. This is good news for church planters because the One we depend on has all authority. Authority is defined as the ability to perform an action to the extent that there are no hindrances in the way.Making disciples of Jesus requires utter dependence on Jesus. This is good news for church planters because the One we depend on has all authority. Click To Tweet
Knowing Jesus has all authority should be satisfying and provide hope, but if we’re honest, it often doesn’t. Maybe you’re like me and live in a place like Chicago, “Chiraq” as some call it, one of the most dangerous cities in the world. I love my city, but it’s dark and depraved. Sometimes I wonder, how am I supposed to have hope as a believer and make disciples when I look out and see no hope?
I have four daughters. I adore them and they love their daddy. Years ago, my wife and I woke up at about two in the morning to a loud cry and little feet running down the hall. My daughter woke up screaming because of a nightmare, and she ran and jumped in our bed. I held her tight and said, “Ely, it’s daddy, I’m here,” again and again. “I’m here, I’m here!” She burrowed her little head in my chest and fell fast asleep.
Jesus is saying and doing this same thing to his disciples today. He’s drawing near, pulling us close to his chest and saying, “I know you’re afraid, I know you’re doubting, I know your church is struggling, and I know it’s hard, but I have all authority. Nothing will get in my way. Don’t worry, I’m here.” I need to remember this daily. I need to know that my God is an awesome God, that he loves me, and that I can always run to him. When we’re sure of his presence and authority, we’ll confidently do what he commands.
Our Intentionality Toward Others
After Jesus assures his disciples of his authority and his nearness, he says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them all I have commanded you.” This is a literal command where the main verb is not “go,” “baptize,” or “teach;” it’s “make.” Disciples are made; they don’t grow on trees and they don’t just happen.
Jesus is saying, “While you’re going about your daily lives, make disciples. Love people, eat dinner with them, get messy in community. Be intentional in getting to know others.” But here lies the problem. We aren’t always intentional with how we live. Many of us are just trying to survive. And we live in an individualized society where making disciples has become foreign. Barna just published research that said 56% of practicing Christians believe their faith to be a solo journey. But Jesus calls us to be on mission together, to make disciples, and to do it well. Merely trying to survive cheapens the call he has on our lives.
God’s desire for believers is that we do our jobs with excellence, do life with others in our community, serve, and give of our time, talents, and treasures willingly and sacrificially. Mission requires intentionality toward our neighbors, both near and far. We can’t be about the work of our Father when we’re consumed with ourselves.
Our Dependency on God
I know many of us are tired, doubting, and not sure if our churches are going to make it. We tend to struggle in our walk with Christ because we get caught up in the wiles of the world. We forget that Jesus has all authority. We try to make disciples in our own strength instead of depending on him.Mission requires intentionality toward our neighbors, both near and far. We can’t be about the work of our Father when we’re consumed with ourselves. Click To Tweet
We can launch creative outreach programs, have great ideas, and pour into people yet still feel discouraged because, at the end of the day, we’ve taken the amazing vehicle of discipleship and placed it on the treadmill of human dependency instead of letting it run off the sovereign power of the engine God created—his authority, not ours.
We must rely on the strength of our captain, Jesus, who says, “Go make disciples, but do it in my name and by my authority.” Whenever we start to feel discouraged, we need to practice saying two words: all authority.
Be encouraged, brothers and sisters. The task of seeing the world changed isn’t up to us as churches or individuals; it’s up to God. And he alone has all authority to do it! When we remember his words and trust in him to accomplish them, we will see more churches planted, more disciples made, and the world changed for God’s great glory. So let’s go together, trusting God, and rejoice in seeing his kingdom come.