And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:14
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
There is a difference between a pronouncement and a command. A pronouncement is merely a telling of what is or will be. A command tells someone to do something. Jesus, in Matthew 24:14 makes a pronouncement to the effect that the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed to the whole world. There is no doubt that it will be done. In fact, he says it is a prerequisite to the end of the age, the delicious stuff, the New Heaven and New Earth. The gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world, all nations, and then the end will come. If we don’t take into account the words of Jesus, the goal of proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to all nations seems to be insurmountable. But Jesus said it would be done, so it will be done.
Jesus did issue a command relating to the gospel of the kingdom being proclaimed to all nations in Matthew 28:18-20. The command is straightforward, “Go, make disciples of all nations (ethne or people groups).” This is our command that must be obeyed for the earlier proclamation to be fulfilled. The command includes two activities to support the making of disciples, baptizing and teaching obedience to all of Jesus’ commands. Again it appears impossible except that Jesus said it would be done. We must be courageously obedient to what seems impossible.
There are two keys to allowing us to act on this command. 1. Jesus tells us that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” No barrier can stand in the way of the kingdom because the King has all of the authority over both friend and foe. It is on that basis that he issues the command. He says, “Go, therefore.” The “therefore” refers back to the fact that Jesus has all authority. He will never send his ambassadors into a territory in which he does not have authority. Consequently, we can go with confidence.
2. The other key is his final statement, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” When we are going and making disciples, we can go with confidence because we are going on his project with him. We are not trying to drag him along with us because he is reluctant. He is leading the way by his Spirit. Making disciples is a Spirit-empowered process.
I recently was introduced to what is a new word-picture for me. We know we, the church, are the bride of Christ and he is the Bridegroom. When a bride and groom dance, the groom leads and the bride follows the lead of the groom. I saw the Spirit walk in a new way.
If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:25
Keep in step with the Spirit. I envision dancing with the Holy Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Jesus. He takes the lead, and I only need follow. This is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Dancing is sometimes hard work; it is sometimes fun, it is always intimate. Following the lead of the Spirit often involves hard work, it is in many ways fun, it is always intimate with Him.
Think about Jesus’ proclamation and Jesus’ command. What does that tell you about God? What does it tell you about yourself? What will you do about it? How is the groom leading in your dance with him? Get on your tippy-toes and dance away with the Spirit of Jesus.