Read Matthew 28:19-20
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 everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (CSB)
There are two words that struck me while I was meditating on this passage.
The first is the word everything, as in, ‘Teach them to observe/obey everything I have commanded you…’ EVERYTHING! How often we get caught up in one or two of Jesus’ commands but neglect the rest. We can end up like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 who “Kept all the commandments (Jesus mentioned to him) since birth.” But when Jesus told him yet another thing to do — to sell all his belongings, give to the poor, and then follow Jesus — the rich young ruler went away sad. But Jesus said to obey “everything I have commanded you.” Everything.
What commandments of Christ do we emphasize in our own personal lives to the neglect of other things he has asked of us? Do we pursue personal holiness vigorously but neglect giving to the poor? Do we earnestly seek to evangelize those around us but fail to pray continuously, doing the work in our own strength? Do we teach and counsel faithfully but lack the rejoicing, thankful heart that we have been told to have elsewhere?
The second big word that I honed in on was the word always. Jesus told us he is with us always, even to the end of the age.
You know, just the other day I rolled through a drive-through and made small talk with a young lady at the window. As she handed me my order, I noticed a tattoo on her arm that read, “I belong to myself.” While I don’t know for sure why this woman got this tattoo, I wondered about it. It struck me that there is a need in all human spirits to be the possession of Christ and to be filled with the Spirit. Sometimes, a non-Christian will find his or her way to the truth of this need to belong and be filled up. The problem is, they don’t seek it in Jesus, but in some non-god like self, romance, or some other religion or philosophy.
For the believer in Jesus, however, the truth of his constant company holds fast. Jesus’ words are the most comforting in this area. To paraphrase the passage: Go do for others as I have done for you — bring people into the kingdom! But I’m going with you. Permanently (because you are mine!).
How can we fail when Jesus himself attends us? How can we lose hope when the Maker and Redeemer of all humankind not only asks us to help him accomplish his purposes but also promises to attend us in the work? In Acts 1:8, Jesus continues the idea: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Mark 3:35 could potentially tie a bow on my rambling: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Do the will of God. Teach Christ’s full counsel to everyone, everywhere, whenever you are able. Make room for God to move in your life and the lives of others. Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And remember he’s right there with you — to the end of the age!