...All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. ~Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
All too often the "therefores" of the Bible are overlooked. In Matthew 28:19, there is a very powerful "therefore". In fact, this "therefore" is pivotal. It was pivotal for the eleven disciples to whom Jesus spoke these words and today, it is just as powerfully pivotal.
At the time these words were spoken, the hearts of the eleven had experienced devastation after devastation. Their Teacher and Friend, the Messiah, Jesus, had been captured, mocked and beaten, crucified and buried. Now, His tomb was empty. Some said they had seen Him, that He had risen from the dead. The two Marys told of seeing Jesus. They relayed His message to the disciples: "Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me". (Matthew 28:10)
So the eleven went to Galilee. Matthew 28:17 tells us, When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Jesus knew their hearts. He knew what they had witnessed, that they had experienced devastation after devastation. He knew their doubts. Soon, He would be going back to sit at the right hand of His Father, but right now He wanted to encourage them with His presence.
His presence proved the truth of His words. His life was His Word. By His very life, He was showing them His power, His authority over death. For He had died -- He was crucified -- and yet He was alive. Death had no hold on Him.
By His very presence, He showed them His all-encompassing authority. Then He told them: "All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me." In that moment, He wanted them to be impacted by two things: the encouragement of His presence and the limitlessness of His authority. After showing His authority and voicing His authority, He gives them the commission to Go: Go to every nation and tell them what I told you. Go and teach others about Me.
But in between the voicing of His authority and the giving of His commission enters that very powerful and pivotal "therefore". "All authority in heaven and earth is given to me. Therefore go..." Because of my authority, Go. Because I have limitless power, Go. You see, He was not sending them empty or impotent, He was sending them in His power. He was not telling them to Go for Him, He was telling them He would Go through them.
As a reminder of the encouragement of His presence and the limitlessness of His authority, He says: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.". These words were a double reminder, for before His crucifixion He had promised them that in His physical absence His Spirit would come and live with them and be in them. (John 14:15-18, John 15:26, John 16:7-8,12-15)
It was very important for the disciples to grasp the limitlessness of Jesus' authority, for that very authority would live within them and would provide everything needed to accomplish all that had been commanded. If they were to "Go" without that authority, they would fail.
Before Jesus ascended to His Father, He expressed the crucial need for the commission to be worked out in His authority. He told his disciples, "I am going to send you what my Father promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49) Jesus wanted them to do nothing apart from Him, just as He had done nothing apart from His Father. (John 14:9-11) In His physical absence, the disciples needed to wait for the Father to send them His Spirit, then the commission could be carried out as intended.
As I mentioned earlier, the power of that "therefore" was not just for the eleven. It is for every follower of Christ. We, too, have been given the commission to Go, but our commission must be coupled with the authority of Christ. Without such authority, the commission is worthless.
When we believed on Christ as our Savior, we were given the Spirit, but the Spirit does not make us walk in His authority. Walking in the Spirit's authority is something we must choose to do every moment of every day. It is something that can only take place through faith. By choosing to believe Christ's authority in this moment and every moment that follows, the product of the commission is solidified. Do I have limitless confidence in the limitless authority of Christ?
He is the Answer to His Commission, therefore, encouraged in His presence, confidently equipped by His limitless authority, Go.