18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is one of the last things that Jesus says to his followers. So at the very beginning and at the very end of his time with them on earth, Jesus is totally upfront about his mission for them.
I think it’s safe to assume that Jesus is repeating himself because this is a very important thing to Jesus. But isn’t he going out on a limb to entrust this mission to these guys?
I don’t know how familiar you are with the Gospels, but these books really don’t portray the disciples as being a “dream team” that can change the world. It seems more like they’re a few fries short of a Happy Meal. One of their most common responses to Jesus’ teachings is, “Huh?” Over and over again you can see they just don’t get it.
And then in Jesus’ greatest hour of need, when he’s arrested and illegally put on trial, they abandon him. Not exactly the group of guys I’d choose to carry on my life’s work.
The one thing they’ve got working in their favor (and maybe this is the only thing that really counts in God’s eyes) is that they are always willing to place themselves under Jesus’ authority and leadership. Once, Jesus asks the disciples if they want to leave him because his teachings are so hard, and Peter says, “To who else would we go? We’re yours. We believe you’re God’s Holy One.”
But even though their hearts are in the right place, they’re still not the sharpest tools in the shed. So how can Jesus feel comfortable leaving this mission in their hands? Why does he believe in them? What does he know that we don’t?
That’s the next question we need to answer.