Matthew 28:18 | The Authority of Jesus Christ | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: Matthew 28:18
As you are being seated, you can turn to Matthew chapter 28. Get used to those words. We’ll be doing that for a little white longer. And really, as we dive into Matthew 28 for a month or two, there’s a risk to doing that. The risk is that you won’t feel the full impact of what Jesus is trying to say in just a few sentences because we go so slowly. But I believe that it’s best for us to go slowly through that so that we get the full impact, we really understand, phrase by phrase, what he is saying. And then we put it all together in the end and say, okay, now what? Now what?
The title of this morning’s message is “The Authority of Jesus Christ.” The authority of Jesus Christ. And we’ll be looking at Matt. 28:18, but I’ll read the whole Great Commission passage before you. Verse 16 starts and says this:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
The authority of Jesus Christ. Matthew 28 verse 18.
Last week we said that we were going to start this series and look at, what is the message that Jesus gives his disciples? And in an age of confusion about what is the church supposed to do, what should we be involved in, what should we not be involved in, this is the answer for us. Go make disciples. This history is recorded for us in all four gospels and in Acts 1:8. This is the last message Jesus gave in Galilee, and a few days later, it’s the last message he gave in Jerusalem before he ascended to the Father. So do we think this was important to Jesus?
When you’re on your death bed, when you will be on your death bed, those last words are carefully chosen for the people that will last longer than you. Well, Jesus wasn’t on his death bed; he was going back to his Father, and those last words were carefully chosen. And this is what he tells us.
And so last week we started off by saying, this is Jesus’ mission to his disciples. Let’s pull the car over for a second and say, hold on a second. What is a disciple? What is a disciple? And this week we start looking into what Jesus actually told them.
So remember, he had told the women, he had told his disciples, after my resurrection, go and meet me in Galilee. And so they all go to meet him in Galilee, and he’s coming to meet them, and he has something to say to them. And really, you can look at the fact that what Jesus is going to command all of us to do, not just the eleven plus the women plus the bystanders that were around on that mountain in Galilee, but what he commands all of us to do is kind of a scary proposition. 2 Corinthians 4 calls the Devil the god of this world (little g). For a time, the devil roams around and has power over this world, not complete supreme power (we’ll see that in a moment), but he can do things that he wants to do. So Jesus is saying, go, make disciples of people basically who are all about the devil’s business, who are children of the devil, as Jesus would say in the gospels. That’s not the most safe thing to undertake, the most safe mission to be about.
So Jesus starts this mission about go make disciples by saying, I’m in charge of everything. This is meant to give us comfort. It’s meant to give you comfort as you think about talking to your son or daughter again and pleading with them to turn to Jesus Christ. And maybe when you could be fearful of their response—will they move out; will they disown me; will they yell at me; will they scream at me; what will they do to me—this is meant to give us comfort. He’s in charge of everything. And that’s how he started this message to them.
You know, there was a study done a number of years back, and it’s become a pretty famous study. This educator believed that if kids were without boundaries, they would be more free, and they would just thrive in who they were. So he did this study, and he took out the fences in the school ground, in the school yard, and just wanted to see what happened when these kids were free to roam around. Well, you may have heard the results of that study: They didn’t go and roam all around the dangerous places they weren’t used to; they stayed huddled together in the middle and played. That tells us something. It tells us that in order for us to thrive, we want to know that we’re secure.
So if we’re going to undertake what could be the most dangerous mission in the world—going to people, whether they’re neighbors or lost people groups around the planet whose heart isn’t for the Lord Jesus Christ, but whose heart is bent on dishonoring the Lord and pursuing their own livelihood and their own decisions—if we’re going to go to those people, it’s going to be risky. That’s why he starts the Great Commission saying, all authority’s been given to me, in heaven and on earth.
So let’s look this morning at two facets of Christ’s authority, which is meant to give us confidence in disciple making. Two facets of Christ’s authority, which is meant to give us confidence in disciple making. So let’s understand how authoritative he actually is so that in about forty-five, fifty minutes, we can walk out of those doors and start going to make disciples without as much fear as we had coming in. That’s the goal of this morning. Two facets of Christ’s authority, which is meant to give us confidence in disciple making.
1. Jesus Christ is in Charge of Everything.
Verse 18 starts, and it says this: “Jesus came and said to them.” I don’t know if you’ve ever been into athletics, or maybe you grew up playing sports, and maybe you’ve been through lots of locker room speeches. The coach comes in, here’s our game plan, here’s what we’re going to do, remember what we practiced, yadda yadda yadda, go out there and do it. But there are some times in those big games where maybe the whole town comes to watch and you’ve been preparing for this for a year, where you’re sitting in that locker room, and it’s quiet, and the coach starts to speak. There’s something about the moment that makes it different than the other moments.
I can remember being in Los Angeles in September of 2011. And September 11, 2011, you know what happened. Our nation was attacked. The following Sunday, our pastor said, I’m going to teach on what exactly is happening here. I’m going to teach on what are these terrorists trying to do, what does the Bible show that these terrorists are trying to do, how does this conflict go back to even Isaac and Ishmael back in the Old Testament; and everybody in that time of national panic and national crisis wanted to hear what people had to say about September 11, didn’t they? I don’t know if you remember those times. But I remember showing up to church on Sunday night to hear what he had to say, and I was on time to church and had to sit on the floor. It was packed. And that church holds 3,000 people.
There’s something about certain moments where everybody is sitting on the edge of their seats before the speaker even begins to talk. That’s what’s happening here. He’s been resurrected. His followers in Galilee were sad because they had heard he had died on a cross. Now, word is starting to spread that he’s coming to Galilee resurrected. And that’s hard to fathom.
So Jesus comes up, and in the original language, in the Greek, the emphasis in this sentence is, “And he came to them, saying.” It means that this was a big deal that he was even coming and talking. So this wasn’t just like any other gospel story in the past where Jesus does something and then teaches on it. Everybody was glued to his words all the time, but this was a little different. He’s risen from the dead, and he’s walking up to us, and he starts to open his mouth. These are serious words. They are no less serious in 2015 than they were when he spoke them on the mountain. They’re no less serious today just because 2,000 years have passed. These are serious words. Jesus came to them, speaking.
And what are the first words out of his mouth? I’m in charge. I’m in charge here. All authority, all jurisdiction, all rule, all control, all power, all authority is mine. Make no mistake about it. You’ve heard of Pilate sentencing me to death, Herod, the Jewish leaders. Make no mistake about it: I’m in charge.
He’s saying all authority, and then later on in the Great Commission he’s going to say, go to all nations and teach them all I’ve commanded you. To be a disciple, you need to be all in. Jesus has all authority, commands us to go to all nations, and tells us to teach them all that he’s commanded. And he says this: He says, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (NASB). So I want to look at what that means.
All authority is mine in heaven. So, are your fingers warm? All right, you ready? Okay, we’re going to be turning to a number of places, and you’re okay with that because it’s Canyon Bible Church after all, right? We’ve got to make people believe that our name is legit.
All authority in heaven. Now, in heaven. You know heaven. Heaven is the place where God reigns from. God is said to dwell in heaven. And you know what happened before creation. Satan was there; angels were there; and then Satan rebelled, and a number of angels went with him. They were fallen angels, so you start to wonder as you look back, is God completely in charge of heaven? Well, yes he is; he sent Satan out of heaven and the fallen angels with him. Okay, but there was rebellion at one point in heaven.
And even now, Satan is not in hell right now; the Bible doesn’t teach that. Satan will be doomed and cast to hell one day. But now he’s not. Job 1 and 2 tell us that Satan roams around the earth. Even 2 Corinthians 4, a new testament passage which I referred to earlier and we’ll go to in a little bit, says that Satan is the god of this world. He has a certain authority, a certain amount of authority of this world. Satan’s not in hell right now; Satan’s working right now. He’s doing things. But Jesus wants it to be clear that all authority is his, starting in heaven.
Turn to Job chapter 1. Many of you probably know the story of Job. Job has all sorts of calamity come to him. Family dies, wealth is taken away, sickness is brought to him; and in the end, he has a greater appreciation of his Redeemer. And I want to convince you that God is in control, and God is sovereign over Satan. I want you to know that Satan is powerful, but God is sovereign over Satan, and Jesus is making that point in Matthew 28.
But in Job 1, the story of Job starts of like this. Job 1:6-11:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. [These are angels.] The LORD said to Satan, ‘From where have you come?’ Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’
Okay, so what’s happening here? Who brings up Job, by the way? God brings up Job. God was going to allow Job to go through a trial in order to make him stronger in the end. This was God’s idea, not Satan’s. Who’s in charge? God. So Satan gives this argument, well, he only follows you because he’s wealthy, he has all that he wants, everybody in his family is healthy. He was wrong. But that’s the charge.
Verse 12: “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” So God tells Satan, you can go after all that he has, but don’t touch him. I ask you again, who’s in control in that encounter? God. Satan is not in control. God was in control.
Job 2:6. The situation happens again, and Job does not turn away from the Lord, and so Satan comes again and wants to attack Job now. Verse 6: “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.’” You can go after him, but you cannot kill him. God is in control.
Turn to Zechariah 3. It’s probably that area of your Bible that gets read maybe once a year in your Bible reading plan, but this is a very rich book. We learn something about God, we learn something about Satan, and we learn something about the angel of the Lord in this passage. Zech. 3:1: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.”
Now there’s a lot in that first verse. Let me flesh that out a little bit. Joshua the high priest represented Israel. So Joshua is representing Israel before the Lord, and Israel was not walking with the Lord at this time. So Joshua is representing Israel before the Lord, and there’s an angel of the Lord standing by him. Do you know who this angel of the Lord is? This is the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Very often, when the Old Testament refers to the angel of the Lord, this is pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, Jesus before he came to earth as a child. So Joshua, standing as a representative of Israel, standing there before the Lord, and the angel of the Lord standing next to him, and Satan accusing Joshua or accusing Israel of how fallen they were.
Verse 2: “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, O Satan!’” So listen. Can you imagine what Satan is saying? Israel just follows you because you give them whatever they want. They’re not faithful to you. Discard them forever. Find new people. That’s what Satan would have been saying, that type of thing, to the Lord. They’re not faithful, get rid of them, things like that. “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!” When you’ve been chosen by the Lord, Satan or anybody else cannot separate you from him. “The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” This is a weak brand that is going to burn, but I’ve plucked them from the fire. Yes, they might be weak and pathetic, but I have saved them.
“Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’” Israel is about to change because of the Lord’s doing. “’Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’” Isn’t that a great picture? If you’re a Christian, that’s what happened to you. No reason to be accepted by God. But the Lord who chose you cleansed you, gave you purity, gave you complete 100% righteousness by the blood of his Son. And nobody or no fallen angel or the god of this world, Satan, can separate you from the love of the Father. That’s the message here. He has all authority in heaven. Make no mistake about it.
Turn to Luke 22. Peter and the disciples are arguing about which one of them is better. Again. And by the way, this isn’t the last time they’ll do it. They’re arguing about which one of them is better. And in Luke 22:31, Jesus calls Peter his old name, his old name before he was a follower of Christ, reminding him, you’ve still got some of the old man in you, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,” and listen to this, “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Again, there’s so much in here. What are some lessons we learn from this? A Christian who still has their fallen flesh hanging on them still makes poor decisions sometimes even though they’ve got a new regenerated heart. A Christian who still has sin hanging on them can make foolish decisions and look like their old self once in a while. But that cannot separate them from the Lord.
We also learn here that Jesus prays for his disciples. Jesus prays for his disciples, that their faith would be stronger. What’s something else we learn? We also learn that when we’re in our right mind and our right thinking, we will strive to strengthen our brothers and sisters rather than compete with them. But Jesus prays for Peter. This is what Jesus does. Hebrews will tell us that Jesus prays for us. He intercedes on our behalf before the throne of the Father. Jesus prays for us. Robert Murray M’Cheyne said this: “If I could hear the Lord praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” The Lord prays for you if you are a follower of Christ. All the time. And Satan, to some degree, has an audience with the Father even now. He can accuse; that’s why Revelation 12 calls him the accuser of the brethren. Satan can accuse. Satan can levy accusations against us. Whether they be right or wrong, he can do that. But none of them do a thing to change our status before God the Father.
One more passage to turn to. Revelation 12. I want to show you the end of these accusations for Satan. And I want you to be excited and long for this time when Satan will be shut up. Revelation 12 verse 7 shows a picture of the future. Rev. 12:7-11:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.'
This is the time when Satan no longer is allowed to accuse anymore. He’s done being able to say anything to God. And do you see how many times the words “thrown down,” “thrown out” are in that passage? Again, I ask you. Who’s in charge here? God is in charge. And in this passage, we see that he has authority, and his Christ has authority. And how do we overcome the accusations of Satan? We overcome by the blood of the Lamb. That’s how. And by the word of our testimony, which is what happened to us in salvation that he did. That’s how we overcome. Make no mistake about it: Jesus Christ is in charge of everything, even in heaven where Satan accuses. Christ is in charge.
He’s not only in charge of heaven; he’s also in charge of earth. He says, all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. And if we were completely honest, we would say that sometimes this is hard to believe. Right? Terrorism, corrupt leaders, immorality, sin. It doesn’t look like he’s in charge sometimes. That’s when we’ve got to believe what the Bible says rather than what the newspaper says. We have to believe that he is in charge.
Take the darkest moment in human history: the cross. The Son of God got himself executed. If there was any time to doubt whether or not he was in charge, that would be it, right? He died. He was killed. He wasn’t strong enough to overcome that, maybe some would think. Listen to what Jesus said before he was executed (John 10:18): “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” I ask you again, who’s in charge? “I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” Jesus Christ was in charge in the events of his own murder. He was in charge.
Acts 2:23-24. After Jesus rose from the dead and went back to heaven, the apostles start preaching that the Father and Son were in charge of the events that just took place in Jerusalem. Acts 2:23-24: “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” Okay, hold on a second. Shouldn’t it read, this Jesus delivered up by the plan of the Sanhedrin, by the plan of Herod and Pilate? Peter wasn’t stuttering here. Peter spoke the truth. “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” God knew about the cross way before it happened. In fact, he planned it.
This Jesus, “you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” Men are still responsible. “You crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” God is stronger than death. God is stronger than wicked rulers, wicked kings, wicked leaders. God is stronger than sin. God, his Christ, are in charge of everything on the earth. Make no mistake about it. Heb. 2:8 tells us, “Now in putting everything in subjection to him,” so God the Father putting everything in subjection under the Son, “he left nothing outside his control.” He’s in charge of all of it. “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” So we don’t see it yet, but we’ve got to believe it because the Scriptures teach it. And one day we will see it clearly. We will see it clearly. We will see every knee bow; we will see every tongue confess that Jesus Christ actually is the master, is Lord, is the authority. One day every single person on the planet—not in a saving way, but in a way that acknowledges, I get it; he’s in charge. Every knee will bow; every tongue will confess.
Many of you have loved ones in your family who rebel against the Lord, don’t want to follow him, want to fight his rule, fight his authority. That can bring you tears. Maybe that has even in the last week. You’ve pled and pled with the Lord to save them. They continue rebelling. That’s many of you, if not most. You’ve got loved ones who do not want to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ. I want to say this morning, God is sovereign over all things. He has authority in heaven. He has authority on earth. And remember, he saved you. He’s in the business of changing hearts. Have confidence in God who is by nature a savior. Have confidence in that.
That’s what he’s trying to communicate. I’m in charge here. Because he’s going to start to tell us, go, make disciples. Go tell people who are children of the devil to turn to Christ, something that no man can do by himself. He needs to be regenerated, empowered by the Spirit. Repentance and faith are a gift that God gives. God changes hearts. So he’s saying, I have all authority in heaven and on earth. I can see to it that people turn to me; that’s what I’m going to be doing, and I’m going to use you as instruments. I’m in charge here.
I referred to 2 Corinthians 4. You don’t have to turn there, but listen to this: “And even if our gospel is veiled,” this is Paul speaking to the Corinthians, “if our gospel is veiled,” so people can’t get why we do what we do. People don’t understand why you get up early in the morning to go to church on a Sunday. People don’t understand why you would give money to people in need in your body. People don’t understand why you would try to fight sin rather than indulge in it and enjoy it. People don’t understand you. Why? Because the gospel, the greatness of Jesus Christ, is veiled. They can’t see it.
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world,” Satan, “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” They can’t see straight because their father the devil leads them down all sorts of different paths that they want to indulge in that are separate from the Lord Jesus Christ. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” They don’t get how precious Jesus is. And that’s really where your family members and neighbors and coworkers are at, people who reject the Lord Jesus Christ. They don’t get how precious he is.
But listen to verse 6. Verse 5 first: “For what we proclaim is not ourselves,” Paul is saying this, “but Jesus Christ as Lord,” master, “with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Listen to this: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’” the one who created the world, “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” He’s saying this: Once sinners were blind, you and me included; we were blind; we didn’t get it; we wanted to do what we wanted to do, in our own way; we followed the deeds of Satan; while we would never admit that or say that, that’s what was happening; we were doing what he wanted us to do. But the God who created the world shone light into our hearts so that we looked at Jesus Christ one day, and we thought, oh my goodness. That’s God, and he’s glorious. That’s what happened to you, if you’re a disciple.
And Paul is saying, that’s why we preach Christ. We preach Christ and some reject. We preach Christ and they still reject. We preach Christ and they still reject. We preach Christ and they get it, because God’s the creator of life, and he uses the message about his Son to save people.
So what do we do now as Christians? Well, I’m not going to tell him about Christ; he’ll never turn to Christ. That’s a Biblically illiterate statement. We’ve just gone through passages saying that he’s in charge of heaven, he’s in charge of earth, he’s in charge of salvation, he’s in charge; and then he’s saying in our passage, Matthew 28, now go make disciples. And Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 4, that’s why I preach Christ. Because it doesn’t look good when Satan blinds eyes, but I preach Christ, and God gives life.
So what do we do? Canyon Bible Church, what do we do this week? We tell someone about Christ. Or we beg him, give me opportunity to tell someone about Christ. Let me see your power on display. Someone told you about Christ—a mother, father, coworker, coach—someone told you and you were saved. Someone was verse 5 (2 Cor. 4:5) and preached Christ, and God did the work and shone light into your heart (2 Cor. 4:6). So that’s what we keep doing.
What should the church do? I don’t know; what should we do? Make this huge, amazing auditorium? Put on this laser light show and entertain people? What should the church do? This is what the church does. We tell people about Christ because God gives life through the message of his Son. That’s our mission. Sometimes it’s scary. We might be rejected. We might have friends leave us, family leave us. We keep preaching.
We were doing an evangelism training session with high schoolers one day, and then they were going to go out to the bus station in North Hollywood. And if you know anything about North Hollywood, California, it’s not the most comfortable place to be in the world. But they were going to go to the bus station at North Hollywood, which is really not the most comfortable place to be in North Hollywood, but they were going to go there and just talk to people about Christ, strike up conversations, talk to people about Christ.
I had this little girl come up to me, freshman girl, after the evangelism training; and as we were kind of getting ready to go to the bus station, she said, Andrew, I’m nervous. And I said, I get it. So am I. I get it. And we had just talked about this passage, Matthew 28. All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. And I said to Kaylee, I said, Kaylee, who’s in charge of heaven? Christ. Who’s in charge of the earth? Christ. I said, who’s in charge of North Hollywood? Christ. Who’s in charge of that train station? Christ. And she’s smiling and starting to get it. I said, you know what Christ is doing in Matthew 28? He’s delegating authority to his disciples. That’s what he was doing. This was about delegated authority. So I said, Kaylee, you’re in charge of that train station. Walk in there knowing, this is my train station because this is the Lord’s train station. This is his; he’s in charge. Walk in there with confidence.
Now I didn’t say this to Kaylee, but I’ll say it to you: Let’s think of the best that could happen and the worst that could happen, humanly speaking. The best. She goes in there, starts talking to some young lady who just got off the train and leads her to Christ in five minutes. Okay, that’s one scenario. The other scenario is that people, in their rebellion against the Lord, would actually harm her physically. Let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that they took her life from her that day. Paul says, for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. The New Testament teaches us that Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15) is the firstfruits of our resurrection. We’ve got resurrection coming even when we die. This passage in Matthew 28 is a resurrected man giving orders to his disciples.
My point: Nothing bad can happen when you do evangelism. What if they take my life? You get another one, forever. Nothing bad can happen. So take whatever fear there is in your heart, fear of man, fear of physical persecution, fear of verbal persecution, whatever it is, throw it away and remember, you’re resurrected with the King. That’s what he’s trying to communicate. I’m in charge of everything, and look, I’ve been raised from the dead. Go tell people about me. So, that’s the first facet of what it means for Jesus Christ to be in charge. He’s in charge of everything.
2. God, the Father Placed Christ in Charge of Everything.
Secondly, and we’ll go through this a little quicker, God the Father placed Christ in charge of everything. First, Jesus Christ is in charge of everything. Secondly, God the Father placed Christ in charge of everything. The Godhead is involved in giving Christ authority. You are very, very, very secure. This was the Father’s plan carried out by the Son. The Father gives his Son authority over all the earth.
If you read the gospel of Mark, you’ll see that Jesus Christ has authority over sickness, death, sin, creation—everything. God the Father’s plan gives authority to Christ; the Spirit seals our salvation—the Spirit’s in control here as well; the Godhead is completely in charge of what we’re supposed to do and the security that we have. Jesus says, the authority has been given to me. That implies someone had to give it to him, right? That was God the Father. Now that he’s endured the cross and been raised, the Father gives him authority to rule.
Remember the account of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4)? A little side note here: The Spirit led him in the wilderness to be tempted. The Spirit didn’t tempt him; Satan tempted him. God doesn’t tempt anyone. But God sovereignly allowed his Son to be tempted by the devil to make him stronger, Hebrews would say, but also to allow him to endure suffering for the sake of us and to show us that we can overcome temptation because we have the Spirit of him inside of us. He was tempted in all the ways that we are, yet without sin, according to the writer of Hebrews.
The Spirit leads him to the wilderness for forty days. He’s at his physical lowest probably, hungry, tired, thirsty; he’s weak, and then Satan comes to tempt him. And what’s one of the temptations Satan brings to him? I’ll give you the entire earth. Just bow down before me. Well, Jesus didn’t have the entire earth yet. The Father was in charge. Jesus had to endure the cross, be raised from the dead, and then the Father would delegate the authority to him, and he would reign over the earth. The Father saw to it that he did not receive the crown before he received the cross. And this shows the greatness of Christ. Jesus could have bowed down and been given the kingdoms for the world by Satan, according to Satan’s plan, without having to die. And Jesus didn’t do it. He pursued the cross, and now the Father has given him the authority over the entire earth.
That’s what happens in Matthew. That’s the storyline of Matthew. He is King. He’s always been King; he’s been the heir to the throne, the one who will reign forever, and then once he pursued the Father’s plan, died on the cross, rose again, now the Father makes him ruler of all, ruler of everything. That’s what he’s saying here.
Phil. 2:8-10 tells us this. “And being found in human form, he [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore”, because of his death on the cross, because of his obedience, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth.”
Jesus is on this mountain in Galilee just days after dying and rising again and saying, this is what’s been prophesied. I’m in charge now. I went through that; now I’m in charge. I own everything. The Father put Christ in charge of everything, judging the inhabitants of the earth, everything. John 3, John 5—you can see those passages on your own time.
And he’s coming back. Again, it doesn’t look like he’s in charge of everything. We’ve got college students going to schools where teachers mock Christianity. We’ve got rulers who refuse to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ, and they look like the rulers in Psalm 2 who are kicking and straining against his cords that he surrounds them with, his rules, his laws; they hate it. But make no mistake: He’s coming back to judge.
Revelation 11:15-18 says:
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying [this is the future], ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.’
There are progressions to the Lord’s authority, in a sense, in this way. Satan telling him in the wilderness, I’ll give you all of this, implying that he’s in charge—we know that’s faulty. But then he dies and rises again, and the Father says, my Son is in charge of everything. And then one day it will even be more clear in our minds when he actually comes to this earth and reigns on it for good. That’s the message here. All authority has been given to him. It’s the plan of God the Father for his Son to endure suffering on behalf of sinners. God would then raise his beloved Son from the dead and give him authority over heaven and on earth.
So again, now what? So what did you do at church today? Oh, we heard a message on Christ’s authority. What are you supposed to do with that? I don’t know, believe it. No. You’re supposed to do something now. He tells us he’s in charge for a reason, not for us to go, oh, I see that clearly in the Bible; I’m going to file these notes away under “A” for authority in my file system and sit here and just, I believe that. I’m a Bible-believing Christian and I believe it. He tells us this for a reason. There’s a response for us. If he’s in charge and nothing bad can happen to us, then we need to go and preach Christ. That’s our mission. That’s why we’re here. Every single Christian. We go and preach Christ.
But before we do that, in a group this large, there’s got to be some who reject the Lord’s authority, who do not submit to it, who do not want it, would rather have your own way rather than his way. I hope these passages this morning have shown you that you’re not in charge; he’s in charge of everything, in heaven and on earth. What he says goes, and he’s coming back again, and the Bible says that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. Your knee will bow and acknowledge that he is master and confess that he is Lord.
Now you can do that in hell, separated from him forever when you acknowledge it too late. Or you can do it now and be brought into the fullness of joy, where he is your master, but he’s also your friend and your brother.
There’s a reason the Bible says, now is the time. Today is the day of salvation. Because we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. So I’m telling you, February 22nd, 2015, now is the time. Today is the day of salvation. We read earlier in our service John 5. You’re right with the Father because of faith in Christ. Acknowledge that Christ is who he said is; he did what he said he did; he rose again from the dead; he did it for your sins; and acknowledge that your sins put him there and ask for his mercy. And he gives it, freely, without cost. You don’t have to buy it. You don’t have to earn it. You have to believe it. You have to believe it.
For you, if you’re a disciple of Christ, if your heart is not stirred to go and tell someone about Christ after a message like this or even after reading the Great Commission on your own, there’s something off there. There is, and I say this as your friend and as your brother and as your pastor. There’s something missing there.
We’re not here so that we can have more theological knowledge which leads us to just sit down on the sidelines. We’re here to receive more theological knowledge and understanding about who Christ is and what God the Father has called him to do so that we would get in the game and go make disciples. That’s what we’re called to do.
So how are you going to do that in your own life? Who are the people you’re going to write a letter to, strive to go see and talk to, bring the gospel to? Are you at least going to start with prayer to the Lord? Lord, give me people to bring the gospel to. Give me wisdom. Give me the words to say.
And then we need to ask the question, well, what do we say in those times? That’s for next week. Go make disciples. Do we just go and try to be nice around them? Just go and try to not smoke around them? Just vote republican around them? No, no, no, we don’t just try to go and be moral around them; we’ve got a specific message to give them. It’s the gospel message. We’ll talk more about that next week.
In 1741, Handel wrote his Messiah. We hear it sung normally around Christmastime. He wrote his Messiah. It’s the composition that goes through the nativity of Christ, the passion of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the ascension of Christ. And it culminates with the “Hallelujah Chorus.” “And he shall reign forever and ever.”
Well, legend has it that in the London premiere of Handel’s Messiah, 1743, King George II stood up during the “Hallelujah Chorus.” So if you can put yourself in London, with royalty in the opera house, hearing the “Hallelujah Chorus” being sung and hearing the singers sing, “And he shall reign forever and ever,” and a human king standing up in reverence. That’s what the legend says.
The question I have is, what would we do? What would we do in response to the words, “He shall reign forever and ever”? So he’s in control of everything forever. He has all authority forever. Stand up? Maybe. Fall to our faces? That’d be a good one. This passage we’re studying gives us another posture. You know what it is. Two letters: Go.
All authority has been given to me. Don’t stand up and say you acknowledge that. Don’t bow down and say you’re not worthy of it. Those things are true. I’m telling you, Jesus Christ, go now. Go. We don’t have much time left. We don’t know how long we have left. In heaven we can’t see lost sinners rescued. We can now.
He’s in control of everything; he holds the keys of salvation; he gives us a message to preach which brings salvation; he’s given us his Spirit to empower us; he’s given us the assurance of safety and that we have a final resurrection coming even when we die; he’s given us all of that to not sit down, but to go.
So I’m wanting you to think of practical ways for you to be going. This is a wake-up call for all of us, me included. How can we go better, harder, faster, stronger, more boldly, knowing he’s in control of everything? Let’s pray.
Father, we want to be about your mission to save sinners. We want to be in awe of our own salvation so that it propels us forward to see other people receive the joy that we have. And Lord, there might be fears and doubts. There might be concerns over who we’d offend or who would not want to hear from us or even break relationship with us. Father, bring this passage to bear on our minds. Help us to believe this passage and for this passage to inform us as we go. You are in control of everything. Christ, you reign forever. You are the author of salvation, you’re the perfecter of our faith, and you bring salvation to the lost. Let us be a confident church when we evangelize. Not a fearful church, but a confident church. You reign, and we acknowledge that. We pray all this in your Son’s name. Amen.
More in The Resurrected King Gathers His Disciples
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March 22, 2015Matthew 28:20 | Teach Them Full Obedience | Andrew Gutierrez
March 15, 2015Matthew 28:19 | The Baptism of a New Disciple | Andrew Gutierrez