Week of Nov. 29

“All” Says It All

Read: Matthew 28; 1 Thessalonians 1-3

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’”
Matthew 28:18, ESV


Christianity’s claim to be the one true path to God hinges upon the miraculous resurrection event that is recorded in Matthew 28 (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19). We know indeed the significance of the resurrection for Christian salvation, but we often overlook the implications that it holds for life in the church. Hang in there with me today because this devotional will provide you with a critical element in your personal and corporate discipleship and will enable you to lead a flourishing Christian life.

A Biblical Lens

Following the encounter at the empty tomb and the announcement made to the disciples, we have a section where Matthew summarizes the major themes in the entirety of his gospel (28:16-20; HCBC). Craig Blomberg encapsulates the section for us. Matthew presents “Christ’s divine sovereignty and authority, the nature of discipleship, the universal scope of Christian faith, the importance of doing the will of God, and the promise of God’s presence with his followers in everything they may experience” (HCBC). I would be remiss if I failed to mention the nail upon which church impact hangs—resurrection authority. Sounds important doesn’t it? Seriously, we need to get this doctrine right or we will miss a vital ingredient in a successful Christian walk.

The theme of authority permeates the gospel of Matthew. Jesus had made it clear to his disciples that his authority was the means to our “fulfillment of the worldwide task.” Read again the previous sentence. Stuart Weber reminds us that we are to go making disciples of the nations based upon the authority of “the One who spoke authoritatively, healed authoritatively, exorcised demons authoritatively, commanded nature authoritatively, and conquered death authoritatively” (HNTC). I think I get Dr. Weber’s point but seeing it in print really causes me to pause. Christ’s authority is essential to our ministry.

Do you see the trio of “all” statements in the passage? We should recognize that all that was needed to be done to cover our efforts has been gathered up in the phrase “all authority in heaven and on earth.” Is it too much to say, “last words last”? we often remember clearly the last words people say to us. After all that has transpired in the gospel, Matthew makes this commission of Christ the thing that Jesus wanted his disciples to remember!

It has indeed had a lasting influence on the church. There are two sides to Christ’s authority that come by virtue of his resurrection. First, he has the right to command us to receive and carry out his “marching orders.” Secondly, he does not send his followers on a hopeless mission because he has the ability (authority) to help them accomplish it. That pretty much covers it in my mind!

Next, we have been commanded to make disciples of “all nations.” Christ commissions his followers to reach all peoples. We have likely heard messages and lessons that break down verse 19 grammatically. The verb in the imperative is “make disciples,” while the other statements to go, baptize, and teach are participles. The participles do gain some of their imperative interpretation from the main verb, but I wish to call attention to another feature in the verse. Our great mission is to bring “all nations into the relation of pupil to teacher!” (EBC). It is binding upon disciples to make others what they are themselves. There is one final thought.

We are to teach people “all” that Jesus commanded his followers. Our ministry to the world is characterized by the baptizing and teaching of others. The focus is on Jesus’ words, not the Old Testament law. This is a kingdom message that is comprised of good news. Our mission remains in force until he returns, so there is always the need for baptizing and teaching the nations. What is taught is not merely doctrine but how to practice it (“obey”). Christianity that is not growing and spreading is decaying and dying.

A Moral Pathway

A sad and true scenario takes place regularly across our nation. In fact, it has been termed an “out of control epidemic.” I am writing about “medication non-adherence,” which means that people do not take the medicines that their physicians have prescribed. Twenty to thirty percent of medications are never filled and approximately one-half of them are not taken as prescribed. This phenomenon causes nearly 125,000 deaths annually and costs the healthcare system $100-$289 billion per year. However, it has been shown that when a pharmacist becomes involved in the management of a person’s condition through blood-pressure checks, education, and behavioral support, then adherence improves. Here is the moral point. Care for and continued involvement with the individual person leads to careful observance of medical counsel.

Jesus enables us to complete the assignment by remaining involved with us. It is not by accident that Christ expected adherence to his commands because he promised always to be with us until the end of the age! I suggest that poor spiritual health is never due to Christ’s neglect but to our non-adherence. The way to flourishing begins with proper spiritual attachment and formation in Christ. Hmm. How wonderful it is that Jesus wants to be involved in your daily life to equip you to fulfill his will. Join him in his kingdom work and you will feel alive.

For Your Journaling

1. This daily time of study will bear fruit in your life if you follow through and apply the truths to daily action. How will you go “all in” with the “all” statements in this passage?

2. Corporate discipleship, yes that is a thing, requires continual emphasis on spiritual formation. How will your church deepen the spiritual lives of members in order to extend the kingdom of God?

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock