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.”
It is interesting that Jesus begins Matthew 28:18-20 with a statement about power. Our thoughts are generally confined to earthly manifestations of power like status or wealth or strength, but Jesus includes another realm of power, the power in heaven. Heavenly power is not like our power, though it has more wealth, greater status, and unsurpassed strength. The power of heaven is defined in counter-intuitive terms when compared to earthly manifestations of power. In heaven it is the “lamb who was slain” that sits upon the throne and has enough mojo to open the “seals” of the book. On the earth it is a guy like Simon Cowell who verbally abuses people publicly for sport. In heaven what we call jewels are used as foundation materials like we use cement block, and the gold there is so pure it is said to be translucent, yet still is common enough to be used to pave the streets. On the earth men are murdered for their wrist watches and children work diamond mines for pennies. In heaven, the sword proceeds from the mouth of the King and the death that the Word brings is a death to self not the soul, a death that brings resurrection and eternal life, so strength is reserved to defend the weak and helpless, mostly from themselves. On the earth might makes right and mutually assured destruction keeps the peace. In heaven power is not a corruptive agent but a preserving one. On the earth, “absolute power corrupts absolutely” while in heaven absolute power preserves absolutely, and by absolutely I mean eternally.
Why then would Jesus begin what has come to be called the “Great Commission” with a statement regarding power? It is the little word that begins the statement that will concern us for the moment, the little word “all”. All power, the power of both realms, heaven and earth, have been committed now to the Son of God. The heavenly realm and the earthly realm no longer have two separate rulers wielding two separate types of power. The self-less loving power that is of heaven has vanquished the self-centered violent power of earth in the death and resurrection of Jesus, thus ending the war between heaven and earth, between Satan (and his ally man) and God, and bringing “peace on earth and good will toward men”.
Mankind now stands reconciled to God. Our crimes of treason against the Kingdom of Heaven, biblically referred to as sin, which were punishable by death, (just like every other nation and kingdom of the earth) have been atoned for by the only person who could have atoned for them. Jesus, the incarnate God, having no treason of His own, willingly paid the price, having been executed in our place, freeing us from the penalty of our crimes. He also, while standing in our stead, offered up to God the one thing required of us, perfect alliegance to the eternal throne of heaven, biblically referred to as righteousness, giving us proper standing in the eternal Kingdom. The resurrection stands as a testimony to God’s acceptance of Jesus’ offering. Just as a man placed in prison is released when his penalty is fully paid, Jesus rose from the dead as evidence to us that God accepted His sacrifice for us and considers our penalty fully paid. The result of this transaction is a real, tangible, legal, innocence on the part of all mankind that will receive it. The strength of Satan’s temporary rebellion being permanently destroyed, he has been stripped of His power, the earthly power he possessed, and that power is now in it’s rightful place, in the crown of Jesus, King of Heaven, and now by his selfless sacrificial death, King of the earth as well.
Matthew 28:18-20 then instruct us to tell the rest of the world that the war is ended, that their Satan has presented his sword to another, that he has no status, no power over the treasury to reward, and that his orders have no legal strength. Satan, and all his followers, demons and men are a receding race and the total end of their kingdom is as sure as the rising sun. Our work is much like the Allied Forces in World War II after Germany’s unconditional surrender. We are to go into all the World and deliver the message of grace to the eerily thin, skeleton like souls of the men. The violent, self-centered, elitist reign of Satan and the World’s system is over. To the front then good soldiers of Jesus Christ, not to wage battle but,
“to bring good news to the poor; to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion– to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.”