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My 18 year old granddaughter asked me some time ago if I would baptize her. Last Sunday the request became reality when about 35-40 people gathered in the back yard around the swimming pool to witness Maddison's declaration of her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and her desire to be a disciple of His for the rest of her life.


Some of those who had accepted her invitation to come and witness this occasion had no Church background and therefore had no way of understanding the meaning of what they were about to witness. I felt the weight of responsibility to explain the significance of baptism in the life of a Christian but to do so simply and briefly.


I told my audience that this practice of baptism was part of the Great Commission that Jesus had given to the Church and quoted the last 2 verses of Matthew's Gospel to demonstrate the truth of this claim.


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." (Matt 28:19-20 NIV)


However, I have long since believed that the Great Commission does not start with verse 19; rather it begins with verse 18.


"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me….." (Matt 28:18 NIV)


When all is said and done, the real issue here is one of authority. Who's in charge? If all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, why do I think that He has no right to exercise His authority in my life?


Some years ago I had a late night visit from a rather disheveled-looking man who turned out to be a university academic whose specialty was Egyptology. He had a lot of questions with which he was wrestling but the one that most stirred him (and offended him) that night was something like this: “What right do you Christians have to think that you can go to any and every nation and try to persuade them to abandon their religion and to embrace yours? Is such a mission the ultimate expression of arrogance and presumption?"


Such was his passion about this issue that I found myself stumbling around verbally in a mostly vain effort to provide him with a satisfactory answer. By the time he left I felt that I had failed him, myself and the Lord. Of course, the answer to his question is found in the claim of Jesus in Matthew 28/18. "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me….." If what Jesus claimed is true, then therein is the basis of our evangelistic mission to go and make disciples of every nation.


We go in the name and with the authority of Jesus Christ. If Jesus was lying or misled in that claim, then we have no authority for such a mission. And by the way, if Jesus was wrong in making such a claim, you and I can forget about this nonsense that He was a good, moral religious teacher or prophet. Anyone who wrongly makes such a monumental claim to authority in heaven and on earth can be anything but good and moral let alone a teacher worthy of our allegiance.


So, in the presence of her family and friends, Maddi expressed her surrender to the authority of Jesus in her life. It was a special occasion.

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