By Tim LaFleur: Before Jesus ascended to the Father, He gave His disciples His last words, His final command. Notice what He says in Matthew 28:18–20, what we call the Great Commission:
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 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 everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (CSB)
Notice the last phrase of verse 20, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” What a promise! Jesus assured His disciples that as they carried out the plan of God to evangelize the world, He would be with them. He would provide every resource they would need to accomplish the mission! Why? Because He would be with them!
Reason to Doubt
This truth is highlighted as we consider the whole passage. Notice verses 16-17, at the beginning of the passage:
16 The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. (Matthew 28:16-17, CSB)
When they saw Jesus, they worshiped, but some doubted. The question is then, what were they doubting? Did they doubt the fact that He had risen from the dead? That is unlikely, because they had seen Him post-resurrection on multiple occasions. So, what were they doubting? I believe the doubt they were struggling with was self-doubt. They doubted that they could accomplish the mission of God to bring the gospel to the peoples of the world. That’s what makes the reassuring words of Jesus in verse 20 so comforting. We don’t have to doubt in our ability to carry out His plan by ourselves, because we won’t be alone; He will be with us!
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The first assurance is found in verse 18, when Jesus says, “All authority has been given to me…” Jesus assured His disciples that He had all power and authority. They could go forward in confidence because they will be making disciples under His authority and in His power. He would provide everything they need to accomplish the mission.
The second assurance is at the end of verse 20, “I am with you always…” Jesus assured the disciples of His abiding presence. They can advance the gospel with assurance and confidence because Jesus Himself will be with them. He would not be distant, He would be with them in presence and power.
The good news for you and I is that Jesus is with us when we make disciples. The same promise Jesus gave to the disciples he gives to us, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” You and I can do ministry in confidence. Why? Because Jesus has given us His authority and because He is with us!
By Tim LaFleur