The Mountains Around Jerusalem

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 7 - The Mountain of Commission

When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:16-20).

One thing that must be noted in this connection is the 'inclusiveness' of this mountain. It is the mountain which includes all the other mountains that we have seen in these meditations.

A Mountain which Includes all Others

Here in this mountain there is, at least potentially, the first mountain: the new nature of the people concerned, the new heavenly nature of the people concerned. You do not need me to work that out. You know the Lord is not going to commission anybody out of the old Adam who is not reconstituted, who has not the heavenly nature. The tragedy is that so much of the work of the Lord in the nations is nullified because the old man does come up so much in those who are seeking to do that work. So this mountain must include that.

Then the second mountain, or the mountain of His heavenly presence in the midst of the storm; from the mountain down to the lake; the heavenly presence for the sake of His own in the conflict. "Lo, I am with you always."

The heavenly resource is in the third mountain. They came by His feeding of the multitude, to discover heavenly resources for situations for which they were naturally not equipped. There was heavenly supply. And here, what is the heavenly supply? "I am with you." That is how it worked out afterwards, and we know that if we know the Lord is with us, we are equal to any situation.

The heavenly vision - transfiguration; surely that is included in this final Mount! "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth." The heavenly vision, the Lord glorified in His sovereign position by the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. "All authority is Mine!" That was the power of the church later on, of the apostles, and that was their testimony by which they overcame.

A new dispensation, the dispensation of the Spirit, we know that that is included here. It is not mentioned, but we know that, although this commission was given here like this, another of the evangelists recorded it in this way: "but tarry ye in the city until ye be clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). Then the book of Acts begins with, "Ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you" (Acts 1:8). So that right here, interwoven with the commission, is the new day, the new dispensation of the Spirit, in which everything is spiritual in its character. Also inherent here is that transition through the Cross out on to the other side, for here they are out on the other side.

So all these other mountains, with what they signify of spiritual principles, are gathered into this final one, and the point is this - you have got to have that in order to be in the commission. It is no use taking hold of these words at the end of the Gospel, 'The Great Commission' as it is called, and giving it to anybody, saying, "If you are saved, get on with the great commission" - "Go ye, and make disciples of all the nations." There may be disaster along that line, you have to have a background, a basis, and a heavenly position, otherwise this world and its principles will break you. You cannot meet the situation in the nations unless you are in a spiritual position.

I have said that the need is a higher position, higher ground, and oh, how clear that is! I have said that for years, but I have never felt the force of it so much as when I was in India recently - the need for the servants of God being on higher ground to be able to cope with situations, things which arise in 'missionary work' as it is called; and for the most part they recognize that. What we need is a higher position. There are different ways of putting it, but that is what it amounts to. The carrying out of the commission demands a mountain position, a higher ground, which includes these things about which we have been speaking. This is the basis of the commission.

A Mountain in Galilee

They "went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them". They are now in Galilee. It is not Jerusalem now; it is outside Jerusalem; it has moved away from Jerusalem. Take out of that what you like. But they are in Galilee, the place where He performed His first sign. "This beginning of His signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee" (John 2:11).

That sign was the turning of the water into wine, the new wine of the kingdom; the new Life; something higher which everybody had to admit was higher than anything that had been. You will not find that in Jerusalem now. The Ethiopian had been up to Jerusalem and tasted its wine, but, going away a disappointed man, he found real wine in the desert away from Jerusalem. It is not there now; that is merely formal religion; that is merely earthly. It is in Galilee - the new wine and the better wine and all else that is, in principle, bound up with the first inclusive sign in Cana of Galilee. Yes, it is there that the last touch in commissioning His disciples is found. He will come back yet to the Mount of Olives and go up from there, but the commission is away up there in Galilee. "Oh," said Nathanael, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth" (John 1:46), Nazareth in Galilee? The commission comes out of Galilee. "A prophet is not without honour save in his own country" (Matt. 13:57). That was Galilee before.

But the sign, the place of dishonour, reproach and rejection has become the place of world conquest. This is a mountain in Galilee.

Heaven Governs All

So it is the high place of the commission, the place where heaven and earth are in touch with one another. But heaven governs all; "All authority has been given". The word there literally is 'has just been given'. It opens the door to rather interesting suggestions - "All authority has just been given unto me in heaven and on earth." And you remember His words to Mary: "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father" (John 20:17). It suggests that there was a movement between heaven and earth during those forty days after the resurrection. "I have not yet ascended unto My Father." "All authority has just been given unto Me."

Was He moving to and fro between heaven and earth? Well, it is only a suggestion, but even the suggestion carries the fact that now heaven is brought into touch with this earth to govern it. Sovereignty from above in Him is moving in relation to this earth to take out from the nations a people for His Name.

Well, all that means for us is that there is a place to which the Lord would bring us where heaven really is governing. That is the point, a high place with the Lord where we are not left to our earthly resources, left as a prey to things down here; not left just to do the thing which will pass when we pass, but everything comes out of the eternal heavens and is stable, vast, sufficient and eternal. Yes, everything from above.

The Lord, then, is seeking to have us on higher ground, and on that higher ground we find Him in fulness for all that is needed here.

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