IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT




Building God's Kingdom

Date: Feb. 12, 2017

Author: Bob Henkins

Matthew 28:16-20

Key Verse: Matthew 28:19

“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,”

Today is our final passage in our study the book of Matthew. This also concludes our series “Kingdom Come”, which we started back in September 2015. If you remember we started the “Kingdom” series in September 2014. And when we put them together we gave them the title “God’s Great Kingdom” and we’ve been studying them for about two and a half years. But I’d like to take you back even farther (September 2010) to our time of study of 1st Samuel, where we saw how God had protected his people Israel from the beginning. When they were slaves in Egypt, God recued them, brought them out of slavery and lead them on a wondrous journey. Over time, God raised them from a group of slaves into a mighty nation and brought them into the Promised Land. God had provided everything his people could want and as they began to settle down, they rejected Him as their leader and demanded a human king so they could be like all other nations. (1 Sa 8) God tried to warn them that this was a bad decision, because human kings are sinful and selfish and would only end up taking their sons and daughters and taxing them. In the end, their human king would virtually enslave them and they would cry out for relief. But God’s people refused to listen and they shouted “No, we want a king over us!” and they pressed God to give them what they wanted.

Naturally, God wasn’t pleased. But since he’s not a dictator, he gave them what they asked for. And through our studies of 1st & 2nd Kings, we saw what all those different human kings were really like. Some were good, but most were bad or really really bad. Over the course of time, because of their sin, the nation of Israel was torn apart, one half was called Israel and the other Judah, but the people continued to suffer under the oppression of their human kings. Eventually, both Judah and Israel were conquered and destroyed by foreign nations and the people of God were carried off into slavery once again and sure enough they cried out for relief.

However, God didn’t let the story end there. He heard their cry and he gave them hope. God had made a promise to their second king, King David, that one of his descendants would sit on the throne forever and his kingdom would never end. (2 Sa 7) And that one day this eternal King, the Messiah, would come into the world and lead their people once again. Even when their kingdoms were gone, the Lord kept working behind the scenes to bring the eternal King to the world. There would come a time when all the human kings were dead and gone, and God would be reigning as king once again and he would bring a cure to the sin problem that continually plagued them. The sin problem has devastated mankind from the beginning of creation. Sin broke down every person. No matter how broken we are, there is hope in God’s great kingdom with the arrival of Jesus. He is David’s descendent, the eternal King, the promised Messiah. And through our study of Matthew, we saw what God’s king is like. We saw his character, his love, his wisdom, his compassion, his patience, his faithfulness, and above all his power. We saw what he had to go through, what he had to sacrifice, to fulfill the requirements and to pay the price to cure the sin problem. And through Jesus’ death and resurrection we could see that Jesus, God’s King, finally had come and now the era of building his kingdom would begin. It’s taken a while, but we’ve seen the story come full circle where God gathered his people and lead them and how they rejected him and how they suffered and how God redeemed and lead them once again.

We saw in last week’s passage how Jesus had been raised to life after his brutal crucifixion. He appeared to the women and to the disciples to show that he was indeed alive. Over the period of forty days Jesus appeared to many people, spending time with them and telling them about the kingdom of God. And finally, we come to today’s passage where Jesus gives his final words to his disciples before he returns to God the Father. Imagine if you were going somewhere never to return, what would be your last words to those you were leaving behind? This is the spot Jesus is in but he wasn’t at a loss for words, he had something important to tell his disciple before he leaves.

I see today’s passage connecting to our modern time in a special way. Recently there’s been a lot of heated discussion about our Senate’s confirmation hearings on the president’s cabinet appointments. Battles have erupted because there are people who are in favor of the appointments and there are those who opposed them. These are important decisions that shouldn’t be taken lightly because these cabinet members are people that will carry out the tasks the president entrusts to them as they run the various branches of government. So, it’s important to get the RIGHT people, in the RIGHT positions, because they will act with the authority of the president. Likewise, in todays’ passage, Jesus appoints his disciples to be like his cabinet members as they carry out his commands.

Let’s take a look at verses 16-17. “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.” Right before Jesus was arrested, when he predicted Peter’s denial, Jesus told his disciples “… after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee” (Mt 26:32). But I don’t think they remembered it. So, the angel at the tomb, and Jesus himself, had to remind them.  However when they met up with Jesus they were overjoyed and they worshiped him. What’s interesting is that at first not all of them believed some doubted. Belief in the resurrection wasn’t instantaneous for them. After the traumatic experience of the crucifixion, it took time for some of them to come to full faith. Resurrection doesn’t happen every day, so it took a little time to sink in. Jesus himself had to teach a couple of them on the road to Emmaus the meaning of his death and resurrection. (Lk 24:13-35) However when the reality sunk in, their lives were forever changed.

Take a look at verse 18, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” When Jesus came into the world he was a helpless baby. However, he grew into a man full of wisdom who taught God’s word and inspired his followers. But he humbled himself before God and before men and submitted himself to God’s will. At the hands of brutal men, he was killed. But now All authority in heaven has been given to him and he sits at the right hand of God. Jesus ranks above the angels, above men, above all creation. Since he fell from heaven (Lk 10:18), Satan has been called the prince of this world (Jn 16:11) and he has been leading the whole world astray (Rev 12:9) however Jesus became the supreme being on earth. Jesus defeated Satan and conquered death. He rose again from the dead, and now sits at the right hand of God the Father with the authority over heaven and all the earth. He holds the keys to life and death, and has the authority to forgive and to judge everyone’s sin. Without authority, we are powerless – speaking with authority can get you somewhere, but we need full authority.

It is this Jesus in all his authority who gave his disciples a command. With this command they would overcome Satan. Take a look at verses 19-20. “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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The important message that Jesus gave to his disciples before he left for heaven was a command to make disciples of all nations. Jesus didn’t want them to have a narrow focus to only the Jews, but to include the Gentiles as well. It was a broad directive that included the whole world. In our time, inclusion is a very sensitive issue, but Jesus was the first SJW (Social Justice Warrior) who wanted his disciples to make disciples of all nations.

How were they to make disciples? First, they had to identify who were disciples and that was done through baptism. Those who had a desire to follow Jesus made a declaration to the world that they follow Christ through water baptism. They were baptized in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. This would indicate a change in the way they lived. Second, they had to teach them to obey Jesus’ commands. Jesus only taught the disciples what the Father taught him (Jn 8:28) so the disciples should only teach what Jesus taught them.

Some people have abused the authority that Jesus gave them when they taught other things instead of God’s word. So Jesus’ words, “I am with you always to the very end of the age” can be words of warning as well as words of encouragement. For those who think that we are in this alone, Jesus being with us to the end is an extreme encouragement. This means that we don’t have to do all this by ourselves, Jesus is with us. If we become fearful, Jesus is with us. If we don’t know where to start, Jesus is with us. If we become tired, Jesus is with us. If we become lonely, Jesus is with us. It’s interesting that Jesus, fulfills the promise God originally gave to Abraham, that, by leaving his father’s house, all the nations would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:1–3). Abraham’s greatest Son, Jesus, has now come and he conveys that blessing; the recipients of that blessing are to be the means by which it will be carried into all nations.

Jesus came to establish his kingdom and now that he has done that he wants to fill it with disciples. People who want to love God and love his people. People that want to obey his commands. Dictionary.com states that disciple means, “to teach, train, a person who is a pupil of the doctrines of another,” in modern times it has come to mean a follower of Christ. But simply put disciples are students. Students that want to learn about Jesus. St Paul was a good example of what a disciple is, even though he had studied all his life, he never lost the desire study about Jesus. Even later in life, when he was older, he said, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection…” (Phil 3:10) Paul wanted to learn as much as he could about Jesus, what he did, what he taught and what he commanded. But the disciple desire doesn’t stop with wanting to learn, they also have the desire to follow, to obey. Walter Henrichsen, a pastor that at the request of businessmen and professionals to minister to them started, “Leadership Foundation” wrote a book titled, “Disciples are made, not born”. Hi point was that obedience to God does not come naturally. Because of our sinful nature, we rebel against God. Therefore, disciples must be taught the commands of Christ in order to learn the right way to live before God. When they learn obedience, they can grow and mature into faithful, influential servants of God.

Being a disciple is also a bit like being a parent, that takes care of their children helping them to learn right from wrong and how to live in the world. Disciples are not just students, but they are teachers as well. But just as every school teacher knows, a teacher can only teach, you can’t force someone to learn. The desire to learn must come from God. A disciple is also a bit like a personal workout trainer. One who can challenge others to push themselves a little farther, to work a little harder, to be all that God created you to be, as iron sharpens iron. (Prov 27:17) However disciples are more than trainers, they are good friends as well. It’s like we are all running a marathon, where we’re not competing against each other but helping each other cross the finish line. A true disciple of Jesus is complex, they are students and teachers, trainers and friends, parents and children, shepherds and sheep, all rolled up into one. Jesus calls every one of us here to come and be his disciple. In this case, there are only two kinds of people in the world, those who are Jesus’ disciples and those who are not. Which category do you belong to?

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