What would you do if you were as powerful as Superman? What would you do if you had three wishes? What would you do with a gazillion dollars? Questions such as these often introduced childhood games that called for us to imagine that we have immeasurable strength or wealth. Usually our first answers were selfish in nature, as you might imagine from young children. Then someone would come up with a serious answer such as feed the poor, and we would each, in turn, attempt to outdo our friends when it came to being generous.
As adults we can agree that it would be both childish and foolish to respond with self-interest if we were given unlimited resources. Further, it would be unthinkable to fail to appropriate and utilize such resources if they were placed at our disposal. Could it be that we are guilty of both when it comes to our spiritual resources?
Jesus’ final words and grand commission to His first-century disciples was prefaced by a simple yet profound truth that clearly implied that the command to make disciples of all nations was accompanied by unlimited resources, making its completion an assured reality. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18b). Prior to the commission there was a declaration of authority that had to be comprehended and believed before any of these first disciples could embark upon one of the most radical missions ever conceived. The process of restoring all the nations and peoples to their rightful King had been launched. How could a handful of Christ followers dare to believe that they could disciple the nations? How can we?
The phrase “all authority” is based on a promise from Daniel 7:13-14 that prophetically foresaw the Son of Man being given dominion, glory, and a kingdom made up of “all the peoples, nations and men of every language.” This passage had already been referenced by Jesus in His mock trial before Caiaphas the high priest (Matt. 26:57-68). Caiaphas inquired about the falsely reported boast that Jesus could destroy and rebuild the temple in three days. When Jesus remained silent, the high priest asked Jesus if He was the Christ (Messiah). In response Jesus declared that the priest had said it himself and added that soon the prophecy from Daniel concerning the Son of Man would be fulfilled: “The Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). Jesus’ bold identification of Himself with the victorious Son of Man was deemed blasphemy and was greeted by physical abuse and calls for His death.
Despite the protestation of the religious establishment, Jesus’ death and resurrection affirmed His complete authority and ushered in a new era of Kingdom activity where His followers would be given unlimited resources to complete the task of making disciples of all nations. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Satan had tempted Him with a promise of earthly kingdoms and their glory (Matt. 4:8-10). Jesus, knowing that “all authority” would be given Him by the Father, chose to worship and serve God alone. During His earthly ministry Jesus had exercised authority over nature, disease, death, and the demonic forces; but now, by virtue of His resurrection, He has been given “all authority.” It is this first “all” that leads to the repetition of “all” in the phrases “all nations,” “all that I commanded,” and “always.”
God’s unlimited love led to Jesus’ death, providing an unlimited atonement, which in turn mandates an unlimited mission. His glorious resurrection and ascension assures us that unlimited resources will be provided through His unlimited presence.
Ken Hemphill, Unlimited
Good Questions Have Groups Talking are available that go along with Ken Hemphill’s book, Unlimited. They are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service.