And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
This is the grand missionary charter. Here is more than our justification for urging on missionary work, more than our encouragement for maintaining it; here is our positive duty to evangelize the world. Let us look at the source, the object, and the encouragement of this great commission.
I. ITS SOURCE. The authority and commandment of Christ.
1. The authority of Christ. Jesus speaks these words after his resurrection. He is now to be exalted to the right hand of God. But his exaltation is not to a place of idle honours. It is to a throne of power. The authority which he has won by his triumph over sin and death he will now use in conquering the world.
(1) This is authority in heaven; therefore it will involve heavenly blessings - pardon, regeneration, eternal life.
(2) It is also on earth; therefore it will bring numberless blessings, and will help men here and now
2. The command of Christ. He uses his authority by commissioning his disciples to preach his gospel. The first claim of missionary work does not come from the misery and need of the heathen; it does not come from the blessings of the gospel, which it would be so well for all to share in; though here are two powerful motives. It springs from the direct command of Christ. The Church that neglects missions is disregarding the express orders of her Lord.
II. ITS OBJECT.
1. To go. The disciples are to become apostles; Christians are to be missionaries. When it is possible, the Church is to spread abroad. We are not to wait for the world to come to Christ; we are to go out into the world to preach Christ. Christianity must be aggressive, and Christians must be active in carrying the gospel to all who, have not yet received it.
2. To make disciples. It is not enough to live among the heat, hen. Many do this for purely selfish reasons. The gospel is spread by teaching. There is a teaching of great power in the true living of a Christian life. But we must add definite instruction in the truths of our faith. The kingdom of heaven rests on truth, it finds its way best through the making known of its facts and principles. It does not dread the light; it welcomes it and spreads it. Evangelistic appeals in which there is no teaching, unless they follow on good sober instruction, must vanish in the smoke of shapeless emotions.
3. To baptize. Not merely is the truth to be preached; Christ requires a confession of discipleship. He expects his people to be bound together in Church fellowship. The great central revelation about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is to be the foundation of our teaching and the bond of our union. This does not mean that we must comprehend the Trinity; it means that we must know the Fatherhood of God, the Divinity and saving power of Christ, and the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit.
4. To discipline. "Teaching them to observe," etc. Mission converts must be taught the will and commandments. of Christ - trained in Christian ethics.
III. THE ENCOURAGEMENT.
1. The living presence of Christ. We do not preach a dead or an absent Christ. We have not only to do with the Jesus of ancient history. The living Christ is with us. But that is not all. It is a mistake to detach this verse from the preceding verse, as is often the case in popular discourse. Christ is with us in our missionary work. We have no right to expect the encouragement of his presence if we do not fulfil the condition he lays down. The missionary Church is the Church that has most of Christ. The power and inspiration of missionary work is his presence in our midst.
2. The abiding presence of Christ. He is with his people in their missionary work to the end of the world.
(1) Then missionary work is to be continuous.
(2) Then Christ is with us now in this work as truly as he was with the apostles. We cannot fail with such a presence. We are to preach to all nations, and in the end all nations will be won, and "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.