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 had finished everything he had come to do: he died to pay for sins, he had beaten death and risen back to life, he had introduced people to God and brought his kingdom to earth. Now it was time for Jesus to return to his Father in heaven. But before he left, he had important directions to give his disciples. Because even though Jesus’ earthly mission was finished, his job wasn’t actually over. Not by a long shot. In fact, it was just beginning.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Jesus told them. What that means is, “I’m the King of the whole world now—even if people don’t know it yet. I went up against sin and death and Satan, and I won. Nothing can stop me now.”
So Jesus is the unstoppable King… now what? That’s what Jesus said next: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.” “I’m King of the whole world… now go tell the whole world that. Everyone needs to know how I won. My kingdom needs to spread everywhere now.”
You see, in all of Jesus’ miracles, we were able to see the Kingdom coming. Everywhere Jesus went, sin and sickness and sadness started going away, and forgiveness and life and joy started taking their place. But Jesus was just one person (even though he is God); when he was walking around on earth, he could only be in one place at a time. So the Kingdom started off looking really small: it was just the King walking around freeing people. But now that Jesus was going back to heaven, the Kingdom was going to start blowing up. Jesus was going to live in the hearts of every single person who trusted him, so that the Kingdom could start spreading fast. Jesus going back to heaven didn’t mean he was going away; it meant that Jesus was now on the loose.
That’s what he told his disciples: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Even though they wouldn’t see Jesus anymore, he would still be with them, and would be living in them. And now Jesus’ mission would become their mission: spreading his Kingdom all over the world. Everywhere they went, sin and sickness and sadness would start to go away, and forgiveness and life and joy would start to take their place. Now Jesus could start working all over the place, through all the people who loved him.
Today, all these years later, Jesus is still on the loose, and his kingdom is still spreading. And everywhere the kingdom spreads, forgiveness and life and joy spreads with it. All over the world, sin and death and Satan are on the retreat (even when it sometimes looks like they’re winning), because people who love Jesus are laying down their lives and loving people and telling people the good news about him. Every time a person puts their trust in Jesus, they get added to the kingdom and Jesus comes to make his home in their hearts. And the kingdom party just keeps getting bigger and bigger.