18. Jesus The Ascended King
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
Jesus’ resurrection is the catalyst for the mission of the church, beginning with the disciples and throughout history. Jesus’ mission to earth is coming to an end and shortly He will be returning to the right hand of the Father. Before He does so though, He has some more words to say to His disciples.
Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ authority is a major theme. Where Matthew records Jesus doing miracles, this is to highlight Jesus authority in action and not just merely in words. Matthew records Jesus’ authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6) and he imparted authority to his disciples for a short time when they went on a mission in Matthew 10. Jesus has authority (Matthew 28:18) over all things, all people, all circumstances and happenings. Jesus has authority over all spiritual beings, whether angels or demons. Jesus has authority over all nations, governments and rulers. Jesus has authority over all earthly and spiritual authorities. Jesus has the authority. This means regardless of what ever the Christian Disciple faces, Jesus is in control. Therefore, as Christian Disciples, we can obey him without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm us. We can obey him regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. It is a great comfort to know, that he is in control of everything!! Through his death on the cross and his rising from the dead, Jesus has conquered all enemies.
Now people sometimes confuse authority with authoritarian. Authoritarian means severe, rigidity and a dictator. None of these applies to Jesus. We have been given a free will, but as his Disciples, we should choose to exercise our free will to obey him and live a life worthy of him. As the Christian depends on Jesus’ authority, the Christian Disciple gains wisdom, guidance, and power.
If Jesus had not risen from the dead, then the Disciples would not have had a story to tell. But Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, and the early church exploded numerically as the twelve Disciples exercised Jesus’ authority and His power. We read about the growth of the early church in the Book of Acts.
Christianity is a faith whereby all Christian Disciples are to tell others of the goodness of God. Indeed God Himself is a missionary God. Ever since Genesis 3 and the fall of man, God has been on a mission to bring and call people back to himself. That was the purpose of the nation of Israel, to be a light to all nations of the goodness and glory of God! That was purpose when God, who is outside of time and space, entered human history taking on human flesh and restricted himself in a human body as the man we know as Jesus Christ. Jesus’ whole mission was one of calling people back to life in God. As followers of Jesus Christ, all Christian Disciples are to evangelize. Evangelism is showing and telling others of God’s message of reconciliation to all people of all time. It is not forcing people to adopt Church standards (1 Corinthians 5:12) and nor is it simply a message of join the church as a symbol of good works (Ephesians 2:v8-10).
Why evangelize? The prime motivation for evangelism is out of gratitude for what God has done, in that we love because he loved us first. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” As his servants we are to tell and live out God’s reconciling message
As I said before, we are all to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). In these last words of Matthew’s Gospel, all Christian Disciples are to make disciples throughout the whole earth! Making disciples is not just evangelism but ensuring that guidance and care is given to new Christian disciples. How is this achieved? How can the Christian Disciple exhibit Jesus’ authority and power in evangelism? Who gives the impetus for Christian Disciples? That is part of the role of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said would come once He had ascended back to the right hand of God the Father.
The Holy Spirit is coming
This is in fulfilment of Ezekiel 36:27 “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws”, where the Almighty and All-powerful God will indwell those who follow him. Throughout his ministry Jesus had talked about how after he was to depart, and that the Holy Spirit would come (John 15:26).
We know from the other writings in the New Testament who the Holy Spirit is and what his ministry is.
The Holy Spirit is spoken of as God (1 Corinthians 3:16). The attributes of God are ascribed to the Holy Spirit - life (Romans 8:2), truth (John 16:13) and love (Romans 15:30).
The Holy Spirit is also a Person and is always referred to as ‘he’ in the New Testament (John 16:14). He relates to us as a person for he is comforter, guide and teacher (John 14). He can be blasphemed against and be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), and wherever the Holy Spirit is, the Father and Son are also present because they are one. (John 14:18-23).
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit and what does e have to do with Christian Disciples?
1. Glorify Christ: This is the Spirit’s prime role, that he will glorify Jesus Christ the Son of God, who is to be praised and glorified (John 16:13-14). He will testify for Jesus Christ (John 15:26). He will witness for Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8).
2. The Paraclete – Comforter: He is one called to stand alongside (John 14:16). Jesus said it would be better for him to go away and send the Holy Spirit to live in us (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit ministers to us all that Jesus would be to us if he were here in person.
3. Declares God’s Word: The Holy Spirit has a prime role in revelation. It was he that spoke through the prophets (Ezekiel 2:2) and it was he who inspired the Bible, God’s Word (2 Peter 1:21). Further to this, the Holy Spirit interprets and illuminates God’s Word (John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16) to people!
4. Conviction: The Holy Spirit is sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8)
5. Salvation: Christian Disciples are born of the Holy Spirit and are known as regenerated (John 3:3-8)
6. Indwelling: God lives inside each Christian Disciple through the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, a person cannot be a Christian Disciple (Romans 8:9; Gal 2:20; Colossians 1:25-27)
7. Sealing / Ownership: The Holy Spirit indwelling the Christian Disciple is assured proof of being God’s possession (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:3)
8. Security: The Holy Spirit is a deposit, guaranteeing our future redemption, salvation and inheritance (Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22).
9. Filling: This speaks of the Holy Spirit’s control or domination of our lives. The imperative here is that we are to be filled (Ephesians 5:18), and go on being filled. He gives power to enable Christian Disciples to evangelise (Acts 1:8; 4:8, 31).
10. Sanctification: The Holy Spirit transforms us into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 7-18), as we walk, live in, and are led by the Spirit (Galatians. 5:16; Romans 8:13).
11. Baptism: This expression occurs 7 times in the New Testament. It occurs 4 times in the gospels, referring to Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 1 Corinthians 12:13 states that we are all baptized with the Holy Spirit into one body.
12. Service: The Holy Spirit equips us for service. God is working in you to will and to act accordingly to his purpose (Phil. 2:13), to be my witnesses (Acts 1:8).
How is the Spirit seen? The Spirit’s work is in evidence where people’s lives become more holy and more like Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 13:7).
The Holy Spirit equips Christian Disciples for service through the giving of spiritual gifts. Elsewhere on this website that has been discussed.
Ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1. Read Matthew 28:16-20. How does the authority of Jesus aid me in evangelism?
Q2. Read John 21. How am I carrying my cross for the sake of Jesus Christ?
Q3. How is the presence of the Holy Spirit transforming me into the image of Jesus Christ?