Matthew 28.19- “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,”
- There is no fulfillment of this commission if your ministry has a bunch of professions of faith, or a bunch of repeated prayers, but no baptisms.
- If you follow the flow of Matthew’s gospel, you would see the pattern of a sinless life of Jesus followed by a death on the cross. He faced temptations to disobey the Father, particularly in the desert and when Peter rebuked him because of his teachings on an impending death. The call to baptism is a call to follow Jesus in death, and then live a life of obedience. Jesus obeyed, and then he died. Believers die, and then they obey.
- There is no fulfillment of this commission if your ministry is full of immersing people who do not understand that baptism means death. It is death to sin, and a shallow understanding of that does not even deserve shallow water!
- You may not think it necessary to be baptized as a believer if you realize your first “baptism” was certainly before your real conversion. But this commission by the Lord seems absolutely clear, which makes it absolutely necessary. Baptism 20 years after conversion is more biblical than baptism one minute before conversion.
The relationship between the Father and the Son is an absolutely unique relationship:
- They have perfect love between them (19-23)- The Son only wants to do what the Father does, something any father would love to have. And the reason he does so is because “the Father loves the Son,” not because the Father is militant or demanding. And the Father wants the Son to be honored. That interaction is the definition of love.
- They have perfect unity (24)- they are so united that Jesus can say “whoever hears my word, and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” They are so united that to believe Jesus’ word is the same as believing the Father’s word.
- They both give and judge life (25-29)- Just as God the Father breathes life into mankind, Jesus has life in himself. And just as Abraham called God the Judge of the whole earth, so Jesus is going to judge all people at the resurrection. Only Jesus can claim those kinds of similar qualities that God the Father has.
Notice the ones who escape judgment in verse 24 are the ones who believe, and the ones who escape judgment in verse 29 are the ones who have done good works. Jesus is so confident that those who believe will obey, he is willing to just say at the resurrection it is those who do good works that will have eternal life.
Matthew 28.18 must be included in your thoughts, meditations, and presentation of the Great Commission. It would not make sense otherwise:
- “All authority in heaven and on earth” belong to Jesus. It is no wonder that he calls his followers to make disciples of ALL nations.
- The handing over of all authority in the universe reminds us of the great relationship between the Father and the Son. We can assume the Spirit’s interaction in the transaction as well since we are to baptize people into the name of the Father, Son and Spirit.
- All authority over all creation reminds us of the God who was over all creation from the beginning, saying “Let us make man in our image.” With this in mind, it only makes sense to teach people to obey everything he has commanded, helping mankind regain that perfect image.
- All authority over all creation includes authority over time itself. God the Father has marked out a day in which the Son will return. Until then, followers of Christ have been promised to be accompanied by this authoritative King (I assume in the Person of the Spirit).
Verse 18 is what makes this commission so great.
Jesus is the unique Son of God with equal authority to the Father:
- Jesus could have just healed the man, but instead asked him first if he wanted to be healed. The man was crippled for 38 years and at this point in his life was entrusting himself to a pool of water. It was a valid question for Jesus to ask.
- Verse 9 is where we get the idea that this story is not so much about the healing as it is about the Sabbath. John could have said anything he wanted after recording that the man picked up his mat and walked, but instead chose to insert the fact that this happened on the Sabbath.
- The first thing Jesus said to him after finding him in the temple is “Stop sinning.” Jesus always goes straight to people’s biggest problem.
- The Jews did not argue with Jesus about whether or not the Father always works on the Sabbath. They agreed. They could not stand that Jesus would claim to have that type of authority to also work for the good of people on the Sabbath.
Miracles obviously do not convert people (the healed man does not seem to follow Christ afterwards; certainly the healing did nothing for these Jews). Sin is always the issue. We can rest because God is at work.