Title: All Hail THE King!
Text: Matthew 28:16-20
FCF: We often struggle obeying Christ’s command to make disciples.
Prop: Because Jesus has been granted all authority in heaven and earth, we must depend on Him to help us make disciples.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew chapter 28. Well I changed my mind. Rather than ending our study of the book of Matthew today, we will spend the next two years going back through Matthew to uncover everything we missed 😊. Ok so I am totally kidding. Everybody keep breathing and put away those tomatoes. But seriously, I did change my mind about the ending of our book study. We will have one more sermon on the entire book of Matthew next week. I did this for two reasons. Number one, we have been looking at the book of Matthew quite closely for the last 2 and a half years. It is absolutely necessary to zoom back out to understand the basic themes Matthew conveys throughout his book, and to look at those themes and how they related to the other gospels, the New Testament as a whole, and the broader bible context. It became apparent that this would be a sermon in and of itself. Secondly, I felt that if I tried and was even successful in cramming a summarization of the entire book into this sermon, that it would do a great disservice to what Jesus and Matthew are teaching in these last 5 verses. And although the key themes of Matthew are reflected in these last verses – we will save those themes and application of those themes for next week.
All that being said, I would say that of all the books I have studied to completion, Matthew’s ending is, in my personal opinion, the most beautiful and conclusive. It is a perfect bookend and conclusion of all he has discussed. It ends with a strong and impossible command but offsets that, with a beautiful promise.
I am reading from the NET starting in verse 16. You can follow in the version
you prefer or the pew bible on page 1130. If you don’t have a bible of your
own, please take the pew bible home with you.
So for the last time, at least for a while, let’s unpack a few verses in the book of Matthew.
I.) Jesus has been granted all authority in heaven and earth, so we must go and make disciples of all nations.
a. [Slide 1] 16 – So the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain Jesus had designated.
i. It should not be surprising for us at this point that Matthew skips over a large portion of the events of the 40 days Jesus was walking around the earth in His resurrected and glorified body.
ii. Luke, John, and even Acts records some events that followed Christ’s resurrection.
1. According to Paul in I Corinthians 15 and Luke 24, Peter met with the risen Christ on that resurrection Sunday.
2. Also this Sunday, Nisan 17, two disciples met with him on the road to Emmaus. One was named Cleopas and the other is unnamed.
3. Later that night as these two reported to 10 of the 11, Jesus appears before them and eats with them. Jesus breathes on them the Spirit at this meeting.
4. 8 days later, Nisan 25 – Christ appears to the 11 with Thomas this time. Thomas touches His scars and confesses Jesus to be His Lord and His God. Clearly having received the Spirit too. John makes it seem like they are in Jerusalem but it is still unclear. Jesus commanded them to go to Galilee. Although they would have probably stayed in Jerusalem until after the feast of unleavened bread and the subsequent sabbath, that would have given them 3 solid days to make the journey back to Galilee. My thoughts are that this is in Galilee.
5. John records that an unknown time later Jesus’ meets with them and Peter at the sea of Tiberius, which is the sea of Galilee.
6. That means that at some point around this time is where the events recorded here in Matthew take place. Jesus meets them in the hills of Galilee to have this discussion. It is difficult to know if this is after the sea of Tiberius meeting or before it. Following Paul’s account in I Corinthians 15 it seems that it was after. And it seems that this meeting on the mountain in Galilee was with a total of 500 people at once.
iii. Matthew is technically finishing out and transitioning from his narrative into this final discourse of Jesus. So when he says the 11, that does not necessarily mean that they were the only ones there. In fact, it is probably far more than that.
iv. He is simply connected the dots from what we have been shown in the narrative thus far. Also Matthew has some applicational concepts for his readers that hit harder if he only is talking with reference to the 11 disciples instead of a whole crowd of people. More on that next week.
b. [Slide 3] 17 – When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, but some doubted.
i. Seeing was believing for them. They worshipped Him.
ii. But some of them doubted.
1. Now we have seen that this was attended by over 500 people.
2. Many commentators make the case that Matthew probably does not now mean the 11, but rather some of the 500 who were there with them are doubting His identity.
3. However, such a conclusion violates the context of Matthew. Matthew does not in any way indicate that these doubters are of any but the 11.
4. But we should not think that their doubt is over the truth of Jesus’ resurrection or His identity – instead, this doubt is more instability or confusion. The Greek word means hesitation or wavering.
5. In other words, I think some of the 11 were still wrestling with all the implications of what this could mean that Jesus was alive. What does it mean for the world, for Israel, for the Kingdom of God, for them?
6. This seems like a perfect chiasmic parallel to worshipping. On the one hand they understood who He was, but that doesn’t mean they are absolutely certain what is next, nor do they truly feel confident that they will be able to do what Jesus will command.
iii. Another reason for seeing their doubt this way, is that Jesus’ discourse perfectly and completely tells them the answers to all these questions. He will answer what His death and resurrection means for the world, Israel, the Kingdom, and for them. And He begins by revealing a glorious truth, yet to be overtly revealed.
c. [Slide 4] 18 – Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All Authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
i. We cannot overlook this phrase, because this is huge.
ii. We might wonder, hasn’t Christ already been given all authority over heaven and earth? Isn’t He God? The answer is both yes and no.
iii. God is and always has been Sovereign. And even though the forces of darkness have been given portions of the nations, and Satan has been given this world – God’s ultimate Lordship over all His created things – including those who oppose Him – has never actually been removed.
iv. However, they were given power and authority by God. We can only guess why. I think it is related to the fulfillment of the promise to Adam. That in the day He would disobey, and eat the fruit, he would die. And Adam’s removal from God’s garden signified a distance from God. A distance that initiated his death. Distance from God, enmity with God - is death, for in Him and Through Him all things consist.
v. God’s world, created by Him, has risen up in revolt. All His creation, the earth, his angels, humanity – all of it has rebelled against Him.
vi. So how now is this authority given to Christ different than before? Christ says that he has been given – divine passive – given by God - what? All authority. In heaven and on earth. Philippians adds – under the earth. How did this happen, and what does this mean? Christ, the second person of the Godhead, by humbling Himself to add human nature to His person, to obediently become the perfect substitute for mankind, to obey His Father – by doing this the Father has given Him all authority, as the God-Man, to rule everything, both physical and spiritual.
vii. What Satan offered Him in exchange for worship in chapter 4 – God gives to Him to an infinitely greater degree for obedience in chapter 28. The dominion of the principalities and powers has been broken. They have legally lost their territory. They just have not been removed from it yet.
viii. And as we are united with Christ – what happens?
ix. When we say He takes our place, we mean it in the fullest sense. He takes our place. Negatively and positively. His divine obedience becomes our obedience. His death for sin and shame becomes our death, his resurrection becomes our resurrection to one day be glorified and restored to closeness to God – even closer than Adam experienced in the Garden.
x. And finally the scripture reveals that we will reign with Him. He will allow us to share in His authority.
xi. We cannot overemphasize this point. When Christ says He has been given all authority – no matter how bad our world seems. Not matter how vile and disgusting it gets. We must understand, we must know, we must believe that He reigns absolutely. And circumstances do not change that reality.
xii. And based on this authority over the whole the world, the living and the dead, the godly and the ungodly, the physical and the spiritual, what does Christ say next?
d. [Slide 5] 19a – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
i. He says, My rule is global. My rule is over the physical and the spiritual. I am bringing people from every tribe and every tongue to life.
ii. Go find them. And make them My disciple.
iii. As you may already know, the only imperative verb- the kind of verb used to command someone – is make disciples. Go, baptize, and teach are all participles.
iv. So Grammar lesson –
1. Participles are verb-like words that function as adjectives or words that modify a noun, or sometimes they are nouns by themselves. Like running water. Running is a participle. It doesn’t mean that the water is doing the action of running so much as it is modifying what kind of water we are talking about.
2. So what does that mean for us here? In the strict sense, Go, baptize and teach are not commands in themselves, but are rather modifying a noun, and in Greek we can specifically identify which noun. It is the subject of the sentence. What is the subject? It is the disciples. They are the ones being commanded to perform the action. So these participles are specifically describing the kind of people they must be if they are going to make disciples. They must be a baptizing kind of people and a teaching kind of people.
3. Go is the only exception to this. Sometimes when certain parameters are met in Greek, a participle can function in direct connection to another verb. Those parameters are not met with baptizing and teaching, but would be met with the participle go.
4. What that means is, that functionally, although go is a participle, it is linked to the command to make disciples. Therefore, go and make disciples is, in application, one command.
v. Now that we understand what is happening here grammatically – we now need to understand a couple other things about what Jesus is saying here.
vi. First of all – what does it mean to make someone a disciple? The word literally means to make someone a pupil. Of course in Jesus’ usage of the word it means far more than that. It means to take on apprentices. It means to reproduce what they have become under Christ’s instruction, in others.
vii. Then we have to consider the “of all nations part”
viii. This is a monumental task. I mean think about it. Although we know He is probably talking to 500 people. But even for 500 people to find and make disciples from all nations would be an absolutely staggering command. It would demand the life of every single one of them.
ix. So there are two basic questions that must be asked.
1. What exactly does it mean to make a disciple?
2. Secondly, how will we ever be able to make them - of all nations?
x. Both those questions will be answered by Jesus, but first, let’s take a break and understand all of what Jesus and Matthew are communicating, so we know what it means for us.
e. [Slide 6] Passage Truth: So Jesus to His disciples and Matthew to the Jews wish to convey something specific. And that is that Jesus, the Messiah of God, the Son of David, is not just King of Israel, but rather, is King of the Universe. There is nothing in which Christ has not claimed sole authority and sovereignty over. This has been the primary point of the book of Matthew since chapter 1 verse 1. And it carries all the way through to chapter 28 verse 20.
f. Passage Application: So what is the application? For the disciples specifically it was to go and make disciples. That is their mandate. To the Jews, that mandate is the same, unless of course they are still yet unconverted. I imagine Matthew’s words to an unbelieving Jew may sound like a warning. That the kingdom of God is expanding beyond Judea. And that they had best get on board or they will be swept away.
g. [Slide 7] Broader Biblical Truth: As a church, we too are probably a mixed bag of disciples, not yet disciples and pretending disciples. Therefore, the truth of Christ’s universal authority has the same impact on us.
h. Broader Biblical Application: For the wicked, for those who are not disciples of Christ, it is a dire warning of the spiritual invasion of Christ’s agents into a world that has been corrupted. It is a dire warning that soon the Kingdom of this world will be the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ once again. And He will reign, undisputed and uncontested, forever. But for those who have had their eyes opened and have been given new life, this message comes with a command. A command to go to battle. A command to take the promised land. A command to go and preach the gospel and to those who have been given life – make them into disciples of Christ.
[Slide 8 (blank)] But such a task is daunting. Not just to know how to make disciples, but even the sheer scope of that command applied to all the nations of the earth. What does it mean to make a disciple and how can we possibly hope to do that? That is what Jesus addresses next.
II.) Jesus has been granted all authority in heaven and earth, so we must remember that He is always with us.
a. [Slide 9] 19b – baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
i. The first thing we will see Jesus do is help the disciples to understand the nature and character of the action of making a disciple.
ii. He answers the question in participles, what does it mean to make a disciple? How do I go about doing that?
iii. You must make disciples by being a baptizing kind of disciple. What does that mean?
iv. Baptize means to dip or to immerse. Jesus calls his death a baptism. What is clear is that baptism, even by Jesus, was considered a physical sign of a deeper spiritual reality. John the Baptist baptized people who were repenting. Repenting is denying or rejecting a former you in favor of a new you. Literally burying the past. Killing it.
v. It is interesting that Jesus does not say that to make disciples you must be a witnessing kind of disciple. Nor an evangelizing kind of disciple. This does not mean we should not evangelize of course. We see the apostles doing just that throughout the book of Acts. However, it does indicate to us where making disciples begins. Making disciples does not actually begin at evangelism, but rather at baptism. How does that work?
vi. As we have understood salvation, in reference to election, we understand that God alone awakens people to the truth of His word. Jesus sees this as the beginning of the responsibility of His disciples to those people in other nations. Since God has awoken them from death, you go and baptize them.
vii. But rather than infer some powerless spiritual rite – what this means, in some sense, is a verification. His disciples are to be a testifying kind of disciple, recognizing God’s regenerating power moving on someone. When that is evident, it is outwardly proclaimed with baptism.
viii. In other words, when someone shows signs of genuine repentance and faith, the disciples are to confirm that reality with an outward expression of the inward truth.
ix. And that baptism, that outward sign of a spiritual reality is done in the name (singular) of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is not 3 names but one. Because ultimately, it is not 1 person but the 3 persons of the Godhead functioning to regenerate the soul of a man or woman.
x. Therefore, it is in His name that we baptize, because it is was HIs work we are recognizing.
xi. So making disciples consists first of verifying the evidence of a person’s regeneration by administering the outward sign of that inward reality – namely baptism.
xii. But we are not only fruit inspectors – boldly proclaiming truth and checking those we preach to for signs of life as we go and then verifying that with baptism. This is not the sum total of what it means to make disciples.
b. [Slide 10] 20a – Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
i. In fact, verifying that they seem to be alive is only the first step.
ii. Hand in hand with this, is for the disciples to be a teaching kind of disciple. But what are they teaching?
iii. From the back half of this statement we see that they take this newly baptized person and they teach them everything Jesus taught the disciples. Here again Jesus reinforces the concept of making a disciple that they would have probably understood, but we may not. It consists of education, mentoring, and guiding a new believer in what Jesus taught.
iv. But lest we think this is purely an educational endeavor – just pumping information into a person – there are two little words in the text that expand this part of making a disciple.
v. To obey. It is not simply that to make disciples the disciples are to be teaching information. Rather, they are to be teaching obedience to that information. Obedience to those commands.
vi. They not only become a professor, but a mentor. Not simply a teacher but a counselor. Not an instructor but a guide. This means that to be a teaching disciple maker – we cannot simply teach them a class and send them on their way. But we must walk with them.
vii. And we teach them obedience to what Christ commands – not the mosaic law or the prophets – which highlights Christ’s final authority. We should not see the law and Christ’s law in disharmony but rather, like from the Sermon on the Mount, we should see the law fulfilled and expanded spiritually in Christ. Christ truly has all authority and as such, He gives a new law – His law – A law of love, a law of grace, a law of new and greater possibility, because it is a law written on the hearts of those who are His genuine followers.
viii. [Slide 11A] Also, I’d like to highlight something that needs to be highlighted from this 2nd part of making disciples. There are two groups or wings of Christianity that see sanctification very differently than we do here at CBC. And this small little phrase “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” is incredibly difficult for them to deal with in their theology.
a. [Slide 11B]The first group of people would say that sanctification is completely a work of God and not of man, and as such, investing in other’s lives to see them grow is a good thing, but is mostly optional.
b. Most of the time, these churches or organizations are heavily involved in evangelism and either outsource or tack on an optional discipleship program after someone has professed Christ.
c. But Christ’s orders are not to merely evangelize. They are to teach obedience to His commands. Any church or organization that has no practical commitment to this is ultimately failing the great commission, no matter how many conversions they see.
d. [Slide 11C] Why? Because God does not simply want citizens of His Kingdom – He wants ambassadors. Christ’s Kingdom will not be filled with converts, but disciples who are alive spiritually and living righteously. Jesus makes it clear to His disciples that Holiness is His goal for all His disciples, and to pursue that goal, new believers will need the guidance from others. It won’t just happen.
a. [Slide 11D] The other side of Christianity that have difficulty with this little statement are those who conclude that Christ’s work on the cross not only frees the elect of sin’s power and penalty – but of its very presence as well.
b. They would conclude that after a person is genuinely saved, they no longer sin.
c. Christ has made us dead to sin and therefore, sin in us is dead. They would also conclude that if you do sin after coming to Christ, it means that you didn’t really come to Him.
d. [Slide 11E] So in their view sanctification is not only instantaneous and complete, it is also synonymous to justification.
e. However, when we understand what Jesus is commanding His disciples, either Jesus’ command or this theological view makes absolutely no sense.
f. [Slide 11F] If those who are actually in Christ never sin again – why in making disciples would we need to be a teaching obedience kind of disciple? Teaching obedience implies that it is not instantaneous nor complete upon salvation but instead will be a process.
g. Although we are not given how much time it will take, it is clear that this process is aided when someone offers guidance.
h. Ultimately this encourages dependence on God and the body of Christ for the remainder of our lives on earth – whereas the view that we no longer sin, actually takes away from continued dependence on Christ and the church.
ix. [Slide 12] Before we talked about how the task given by Christ to go and make disciples of all nations was truly a monumental task for each of these 11 or 500 people. But understanding that making disciples involves investigating their lives for signs of regeneration, sealing that with the outward sign of baptism and then walking with them helping them to be obedient to all that Christ taught, makes Jesus’ commission here all the more impossible.
x. And I don’t use that word lightly. How is it possible for each of His disciples to do this? We are talking about the rest of their lives, and even estimating liberally, each of them only making, at most, 100 disciples. How could these 500 find all of God’s awoken ones and make them disciples?
xi. Jesus is telling His disciples to go and spiritually invade the world. How can they do that?
xii. That introduces Jesus’ second command in this text. There are two commands. The first is to go and make disciples by baptizing them in God’s name and teaching them to obey His commands. The second is found in the second half of verse 20.
c. [Slide 13] 20b – And remember, I am with you always
i. Many translations reduce this command to the word “Behold” or even “lo”
ii. However, this word means to pay attention, to take heed, to listen up, and to keep at the forefront of your mind.
iii. Hence the NET – REMEMBER! Write this on your doorposts. Tattoo it to your foreheads!
iv. I. Am. With. You. Always!
v. His disciples are tasked with continually remembering that He is with them. Always!
vi. Matthew began His book by letting us know that Jesus will be called Emmanuel because He is God with us. And he concludes his book by telling us that He will always be called Emmanuel because He will always be with us!
vii. That is how we can accomplish the work that Jesus has set out for us. Because He will always be there to help us to do it.
viii. And lest we think these two commands are only for the 500 standing there with Him…
d. [Slide 14] 20c – to the end of the age.
i. Beyond the lifetimes of the 500 there – Jesus is still with us. Even today.
ii. Those who are genuinely followers of Christ are still commanded to go and make disciples and to remember Christ’s continued presence as we do.
iii. This is total dependence on Christ for a world changing mission. And it is extended beyond the lifetimes of the disciples and is applicable even now for you and I.
iv. He is with us.
v. And why is that so significant that He is with us?
vi. It goes back to the primary truth – That He has been given all authority. It is one thing to have a loved one tell you that they will be with you in spirit. That provides comfort – but no effective power or help.
vii. But Christ, having total sovereign control over all created things, telling us that He IS with us always – is not merely comforting, but absolutely necessary for us to breathe let alone to do as He has commanded.
e. [Slide 15] Passage Truth: So we have seen that Matthew and Jesus’ primary truth on which everything else hangs is consistent throughout this passage. Namely, that Jesus has been given by the Father absolute sovereignty over all creation.
f. Passage Application: To the disciples of Christ that means that they are not only to go and make disciples – but that they are to remember that Christ is always with them because they need Him. His authority and power extends to each of them as they go to obey His command.
g. [Slide 16] Broader Biblical Truth: For us then the truth is no less potent. Christ is over all things. In all things He is preeminent. He has been given unmatched authority – authority that extends over everything save God the Father.
h. Broader Biblical Application: It is in this truth that our confidence in the second command of Christ comes. That we are to remember that He is with us always and forever. Remembering that He is always with us in that full and absolute authority is not just comforting, but is essential if we are to continue furthering His Kingdom.
[Slide 17 (blank)] So how do we then live?
That largely depends on who you are.
Are you one of the many who are on a broad path to destruction? Are you one of the weeds? Are you a rotten fish? If you are not a genuine disciple of Christ or you have no reason to think you are – you should be aware that this commission to Jesus’ disciples is a declaration of war on the world. It is not a physical war but a spiritual one. It will be violent in that those who succumb to the power of Christ will be crucified with Him, and those who do not, will be judged by Him. It is an invasion - in that territory once given to principalities and powers has been given to Christ and His disciples. And His disciples are guaranteed success because He goes with them.
If you are not a disciple of Christ, then you are His enemy, and there is no middle ground. But Christ died to make His enemies His brothers and sisters. Is God opening your eyes? Has He given you life to see the world anew? Has He changed you? Are you aware of your wickedness and of your need for mercy from a holy God? Mercy is available. And it is mercy that drives men to repentance. So repent of the sins that have separated you from God. Repent of seeking your own way, and depend on Christ alone. He will make you new.
[Slide 18] But if you are a disciple of Christ – this text is both a command and a promise.
We are the agents of His Kingdom in this world. We were not saved to sit in pews. We were not saved to get out of hell. We were not saved to merely read the bible and pray. We were not saved merely to change our moral behavior. We were saved to go forth in His power and with His authority and His presence and preach Christ and Him crucified for sinners. And when God awakens someone before our eyes, or we happen upon one whom God has awoken, we have been ordered by our Commander – by our High King – to make that one into His disciple. To authenticate outwardly that they have been raised to new life by baptizing them in His name. And to teach them to obey everything that our He has commanded.
[Slide 19] For a genuine disciple of Christ – THAT IS LIFE! There is no other. And until the age ends – He will go with us. He will give us power and victory. Then we will reign with Him. And He will reign forever and ever.
All Hail the King! Say it with me friends.
All Hail the King! [Slide 20 (attribution)]