By Rony Kozman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, Samford University
Matthew 28:18–20; 2 Corinthians 5:16–21
When Jesus rose from the dead, He took His throne as the Messiah — the promised King of Israel. And Jesus’ dominion extends to all the nations. As Isaiah tells us, all the nations will come to Him (Isa.11:10–12) and will be instructed by Him (Isa. 42:4). It is against this background that the risen Messiah commissions His disciples in Matthew 28.
Christ commissioned us to make disciples as we go through life. (Matt. 28:18–20)
As the risen King to whom God has now given “all authority in heaven and on earth,” Jesus commissions His disciples to announce and extend His reign throughout all the nations.
When Jesus sent out the disciples earlier in Matthew, they were only to go to “the lost sheep of Israel” (10:6). But now that He is the risen King of Israel, Jesus sends His disciples into Gentile territories.
When Jesus appeals to His all-encompassing authority, He is not doing so in order to compel otherwise fearful disciples to tell their neighbors about Jesus. (To allay their fears, He promises them His divine presence.) Rather, His appeal to His authority underscores that Jesus is the risen King of Israel who has the power to extend His reign over Jews and Gentiles. And Jesus commissions the disciples to participate in this mission of advancing the Messiah’s kingdom throughout all the earth.
Jesus commissions His disciples to announce the gospel (i.e., the good news) that Jesus is the enthroned King. As His disciples we share in this global mission by making disciples from all nations, including right where we live.
Making disciples of all nations involves “baptizing them” and teaching them to obey all the Messiah’s commands and instructions (also see Isa. 42:4).
We should tell others what Christ has done in our lives. (2 Cor. 5:16–19)
In 2 Corinthians 3–5, we read of the ministry that God gave to the apostles. They are ministers of the New Covenant (3:6). When we announce the gospel and make disciples, we are extending the message and ministry of the apostles.
When we pass along the apostolic message, we announce that in Christ, God forgives our sins and is reuniting the world to Himself. The message entrusted to Paul, and that we speak, is the “message of reconciliation.”
In brief, this message is: Our sins that made us enemies of God have been dealt with in Christ so that we can now have peace with God.
Our responsibility as Christ’s representatives includes calling others to repentance and faith in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:20–21)
The apostles were appointed as the Messiah’s royal ambassadors. As emissaries, their message is not their own. Their words are the words of God and of the Messiah whom they represent.
The appeal entrusted to the apostles is this: “be reconciled to God.” And when we share this apostolic message, God makes His appeal through us.