In Matthew's version of
the “Great Commission,” there is a profound connection between
authority and discipleship. Notice the word authority in verse 18 and
disciples in verse 19. Yeshua has authority, therefore we make disciples.
Discipleship is a response to Yeshua’s authority.
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew
The gospel message is an offer of forgiveness and an invitation to eternal
life. Yet it is also a declaration of authority: There is no salvation
without lordship. The most basic profession of salvation is a
profession of lordship. (“Whoever confesses with his mouth that
Yeshua is Lord…will be saved” Romans 10:9.) The confession
that Yeshua is Lord is essentially a commitment to submit to His authority.
A salvation prayer should include the phrase, “I submit to
Yeshua’s authority and commit myself to obey Him.” [Yesterday
our evangelist friend, Rachel, brought an Israeli man (40) to our daily
prayer meeting for the first time. He heard me teach on this subject, and
asked to receive salvation, thank God.]
Yeshua has all authority. The gospel declares this authority. Whoever
submits to Him is saved and becomes one of His disciples. To be a disciple
is to learn how to walk in submission to His authority.
Yeshua has two kinds of authority. The first is direct, spiritual
authority. We have to obey Him directly, as led by the Holy Spirit in our
conscience (Romans 2:15, 8:16, 9:1). His word and His holiness are above
any man’s opinions. Scriptures define for us His absolute standards
of right and wrong.
The second kind of authority is delegated, through other human beings.
Direct authority takes precedence over delegated authority, yet we have to
respect this second kind of authority as well. The problem is that Yeshua
is perfect, while human beings in positions of delegated authority are
imperfect and sinful. How can we submit to authority of human beings who
are often wrong, or even evil? The process of learning correct attitudes
toward authority is a central part of discipleship.
Most human beings have had bad experiences with authority. Many have been
hurt and abused by those in authority. Others get offended at any
expression of authority. Often people rebel when they should submit, and
act selfishly when they themselves have authority. We need much wisdom
from God to sort through all this mess!
Authority must be limited to a sphere or realm with clearly defined
boundaries (Luke 23:7, II Corinthians 10:13). A father has authority in his
own family, not in someone else’s. A prime minister has authority in
his nation, not in another. A kingdom is the realm of authority of a king.
It is the “dominion” of a king. It is his king-dominion. All
delegated human authority is limited. Only Yeshua’s dominion is
unlimited. He has “all” authority in both heaven and earth.
May God heal our hearts from every abuse and bring us to repentance for
every rebellion! A balanced and wholesome attitude toward authority is the
mark of a true disciple.