Ephesians 4: 4-13
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
‘When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.’
(What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Matthew 28: 18-20
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, baptising 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.’
Last week we looked at the extent of Christ’s descent. Not only did He leave Heaven, become a man and live among sinful humanity. He also endured the suffering and humiliation of the cross and the unbearable separation from the Father as the weight of humanity’s sin fell upon His shoulders. However, what looked like a devastating defeat and a tragic, terrible ending was actually the greatest victory in human history. Through His death and glorious resurrection, Jesus conquered Satan, sin and death and secured once and for all freedom from hell’s captivity and eternal life for humanity. He then ascended back to the Father’s right hand where He rules and reigns with absolute dominion and undisputed authority over all things.
His mandate and mission is to establish His rule here on earth and to fill every sector of society and every corner of culture with His glory, beauty, majesty, creativity and life. The longing of Heaven is towards the day when every remaining enemy of God either bows the knee to Jesus’ Lordship or becomes His footstool. Christ could do this by Himself but has chosen, in His sovereignty, to partner with His people, the Church. Therefore, in what we call the ‘Great Commission’, Jesus has passed His mandate and mission to us, His Kingdom community.
This mandate determines everything the Church is and all we do. We have no other calling, mission or job description. It is to fill the whole earth with the knowledge of the glory and exaltation of Christ. To declare and demonstrate His victory and invite people to become part of His redeemed community. To bring freedom and liberty where the is captivity, release and restoration to all things and all people in all places. To proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom and call people to worship the One True King.
Is this actually possible? In a world which seems to be careening closer to chaos every day, can we honestly expect to fulfil the mandate of Jesus? He seemed to think so. As Kris Vallotton puts it:
"In the midst of Roman oppression, with the reign of the evil emperor Nero within a stone’s throw of history, Jesus turned to His tattered brigade of spiritual warriors and said, “Pray that my Father’s kingdom would come and His will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Was this prayer a sort of a wish upon a star, intended to be prayed by billions, but only to be experienced by a few in some distant eternity? No, I don’t think so! I think Jesus actually expected us to believe that when we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can pull heaven down to earth."