Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:50-53
The Great Commission
I was one devotion away from being able to finish “Ordinary Year I: The Gospels”; but that’s okay, because “The Great Commission” provides a perfect springboard for moving into the “Acts of the Apostles.”
Matthew and Mark record the commissioning of the disciples by the Lord. Though the word “commission” is not in the passage, it is a fitting description of what Jesus was doing with these men. The word comes from the Latin, cum, which generally means “with” and mittere, which generally means, “to send.” (I say “generally” because each Latin word can have other related meanings.) So to commission someone means to send one with some purpose and with authority to achieve that purpose. And this is exactly what Jesus did: he “commissioned” these men to go out and make disciples, baptizing and teaching those disciples (learners) as they went. And he did not send them out with nothing; he sent them out: 1) Under his own authority as Lord and Master over heaven and earth; and, 2) With power, according to Mark’s Gospel, to: cast out demons, speak in tongues, heal the sick, and even resist snake bites and poison. The purpose of working these miracles which the apostles were enabled to do was to confirm the word they preached, as plainly stated in the passage in Mark, but also by Jesus himself, the evidence of which works he referred to time and again (John 5:36; 10:25, 38). Moreover, in the Greek these men are called “apostles,” which also means “sent ones.”
Mark and Luke conclude their Gospels with Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Mark adding, “and sat down at the right hand of God.” Matthew refers to Christ’s ascension when Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” So our Lord ascends to the place of honor he occupied before his humiliation in assuming our nature. Only now, he is also our mediator and intercessor as the One who lived our life, took our place, and bore penalty. He knows and understands us. He also sends the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father given to His Christ, who then gives the Spirit to us (Acts 2:33). And because of this gift of the Spirit, and because he is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; Philippians 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11), Jesus can say to his disciples upon his departure, “I am with you always, to the end of the age,” that is, through the Holy Spirit. And so, Jesus is with us now through his Spirit, whose ministry is the task of the Church. We are his “sent ones” today, sent out to testify to the God who has saved us through His Son. We have no excuse; all power and authority belongs to our Lord, who is still Immanuel.