“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been 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 I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” [Matthew 28:16-20 NIV]
I fully believe that there is no greater revelation for a Christian than the deep-seated conviction that our God is with us always. In my darkest hours this has been the truth that has carried me through. In my most desperate times of weakness this has been the reality that gives me strength. In my struggle against fear this has been and always will be my source of courage.
When Jesus gathered His disciples to give them their mission, He fully recognized that they were afraid, scared and doubtful. They’d just spent 3 days hiding in fear because of what happened to Jesus. Think of Peter. The “Rock” that Jesus said He was going to build His Church on. Peter had failed Jesus by denying Him 3 times. Not to mention the rest of the disciples who weren’t anywhere to be found during Jesus’ torture and crucifixion. Yet here they sit at Jesus’ feet, and Jesus chooses to entrust to them the most important mission in all of history.
Think about that. What if the disciples did NOT go out and make disciples? What if they went back into hiding? I mean, people bail on things all the time!! Why was this any different? Well, turns out they couldn’t do anything until they had help. In Acts 1:4-6 Jesus tells His disciples, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” The promise comes in Acts 2:4 when, “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Immediately after that Peter stood up in front of a crowd and 3,000 people came to Christ and the first generation of Spirit-filled disciples was made.
Here’s my point: When Jesus told His fearful, doubtful disciples that He would be with them always to the very end of the age He meant it. The Great Commission cannot be fulfilled apart from the Holy Spirit. Jesus knows you need help. He doesn’t expect us to do it alone. He is inviting us to co-labor with Him. This is the work we are called to and Jesus is going to help us do it. And I can personally tell you that there is nothing more intimate than working alongside Jesus. Just like the joy a son has in building things with his Father, I promise you there is great joy in making disciples with our Savior! That’s why He could trust His disciples with the redemptive mission of humanity. He knew the Holy Spirit alone would be enough for them to carry His name and love to the ends of the Earth.
This is what we are to spend our days concerned with. The advancing of God’s Kingdom. The promise of Jesus being “with us always” comes in the context of living to make disciples. His Holy Spirit hasn’t been given to us to keep to ourselves. We are meant to share Him with those who are lost. The command in the Great Commission is to “make disciples”. It’s not go, it’s not baptize, it’s not teach. These are used to describe the process of making disciples, but the command is to make disciples. He might call some people to other places to make disciples, but more than anything we are called to make disciples wherever we are. This is what Jesus has for you. He desires you to live a missional lifestyle of making disciples because He loves the world and everyone in it. There are no exceptions. And the beauty of it is that Jesus knows you can do this because He’s asking you to do it with Him! He knows your fear and is inviting you to step through the fear and into the intimacy of making other Jesus followers with Him!
Father, I ask that you would reveal to me how I am called to advance Your Kingdom. And I then ask that you would meet me in my fear with the power and comfort of Your Holy Spirit to show me that I can do this work with You! And I ask that there would be overwhelming joy in the process! Amen.