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What do the last events from Jesus’ earthly ministry to the Great Commission for disciple making tell us about His reality? Through each God revealed His greater character in the name of Jesus–Whose power originates from His divine nature as God manifested in flesh to be the Savior.  

Jan Paron/April 28, 2013

Theologian Richard Bauckham contends that a wide spectrum of people, ranging from believers to would-be believers, pursue the historical reality of Jesus.[1] These inquirers can broaden their knowledge of Jesus’ existence by studying His nature, life and missional agenda in the context of various events from His ministry. The Gospel evangelists authenticated the risen Savior with rich testimonies coming from eyewitness accounts of His redemptive works for humanity. To uncover Jesus’ being I explore His divine power, discipleship mandate and commission instructions (Matt 28:19-20) with select messianic turning points from His final days.

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Jesus’ Power

Jesus told His disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (28:18 KJV). Thayer’s lexicon defines power (Greek: exousia, ἐξουσία) in this verse to mean, “power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed [generally translated as authority].”[2] Jesus’ power originates from His divine nature as God manifested in flesh to be the Savior. God revealed His greater character in the New Testament through the name of Jesus, “Jehovah-Savior” (Matt 1:21, 23; Acts 4:12; Phil 2:9).[3] We learn more about God’s revelatory nature from the last days during the life of Christ. One such occurred during the Last Supper when Jesus foretold His disciples of the glorious and resurrected “Son of man” (Matt 26:24; Mark 14:21; Luke 22:22; cf., Dan 7:13; Mark 14:62). In another, Jesus affirmed His identity to the high priest’s trial query as “Christ, the Son of the Blessed” (Mark 14:61). Thus, in both instances, God fully discloses His nature and authority in Jesus with the names Son of Man and Christ, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9 NKJV).

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Jesus’ Mandate

“Go then and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt 28:19a AMP). The resurrected Jesus (i.e., Christ and Son of Man) commanded His apostles to continue His ongoing mission to spread salvation, and take on the role of disciples making disciples. In doing so, He imparted sweeping foundational principles for discipleship that extended into the future for all those who would believe on Him through their apostolic witness (John 17:20). They carried out His mandate with power. The word then (Greek: oun, οὖν; Matt 28:19a) shows Jesus empowering His apostles through Himself (28:18). With New Birth, all believers have Jesus’ authority through His incarnation as the living God in all fullness. He authorizes this power for the commission through the nature of His name.

Jesus’ Instructions

Jesus’ commissioned disciples to reproduce themselves. He instructed them to “go” (28:19a), “baptizing” (v.19b) and “teaching them to observe” everything He commanded them (v.20a). After spending three years with Jesus as He walked among the people, the original Twelve saw Him disciple others from Galilee to Jerusalem. Even during times of persecution, Jesus did not cease. For example, He proclaimed the good news (John 18:36-37); performed miracles (Luke 17:11-19; John 11:1-16); healed individuals and crowds (Matt 19:1-2); laid hands and prayed for children (Matt 19:15) and taught about kingdom of God ethics (i.e., Matt 19; Luke 18:18-27). Jesus even prayed for those who crucified Him (23:34) and pardoned the repentant thief (v.43) as He hung on the cross. Jesus modeled discipleship to the end.

Closing: Jesus at Emmaus

Therefore, what can we glean from Jesus’ nature, life and missional agenda from the latter periods leading to the Great Commission? Kevin J. Vanhoozer notes that, “Meaning is actualized not by the author at the point of the text’s conception but by the reader at the point of the text’s reception.”[4] Despite historical and spiritual proofs of Jesus’ existence, people receive Gospel testimonies at the point of its reception as Vanhoozer suggests. A sometimes unbelieving, postmodern world might reject eyewitness proofs; however, I recognize Jesus at Emmaus with eyes wide-open living within me today. “It is true! The Lord has risen” (Luke 24:34a NIV). As for me, I run to share this news and make disciples of all nations without end.

From the All Nations Leadership Institute class “Walking through the Word, Part Two,” reprinted with permission. All Rights Reserved, All Nations Leadership Institute, 2013.

ENDNOTES

[1] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2006), 2.

[2] Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2009), 225.

[3] David, Bernard, The Oneness of God (Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press, 2000).

[4] Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Hearing the New Testament (ed. Joel Green; Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1995), 301.

Photo credits: Go!– Sharefaith.com; Godhead–Pope of Pentecost

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006.

Beal, G. K. and D. A. Carson, eds. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.

Bernard, David. In the Name of Jesus. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1992.

______________. The Oneness of God. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 2000.

______________. Oneness View of Jesus Christ. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1994.

Evans, Craig A. Matthew: New Cambridge Bible Commentary. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Han, Nathan E. A Parsing Guide to the Greek New Testament. Scottsdale: Herald Press, 1971.

Levine, Amy-Jill, Dale C. Allison and John Crossan, eds. The Historical Jesus in Context. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Root, Orrin. A Survey of the Bible: Training for Service Student Book. Cincinnati: Standard, 1998.

Thayer, Joseph H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2009.

Turner, David L. Matthew: Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J. Hearing the New Testament. Edited by Joel Green. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1995.

Wright, N.T. The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1999.