“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, 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”Matthew 28:18-20
From front to back, the Bible is filled with the evidence of God’s deepest desire: that He would be known and enjoyed by every nation and people. This is His end goal, and He has revealed it to us in every act of His grace and sovereignty.
When Jesus spoke the commissioning words of Matthew 28:18-20 to His disciples, He spoke words of importance to those who heard them then, and to all of us who read them now.
When the disciples heard these words from the mouth of Jesus, they understood something that we believers often fail to understand. The Great Commission was not, and is not, simply an invitation for Christians to participate in global missions.
No, it is so much greater than that.
The Great Commission Matters Because Of Who Gave It
The importance of making disciples for Jesus stands on the words “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”.
Jesus, as God the Son, has existed for all eternity. John 1:1-4 tells us this when it says, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the Word was God. He was at the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
The Son had all authority from the beginning, but Jesus the Son of God as the man had not yet come and died for sinners. Satan’s rule had not yet been overcome by the cross. When Jesus Christ, the Son of God as the man was crucified and resurrected, He triumphed over Satan. After Jesus’s death and resurrection, God exalted Him as the redeemer, the risen-one, seated at the right hand of God. The authority of salvation has been placed into the hands of Jesus, who dwelt as a man to redeem the sins of the world.
This authority given to Jesus is not partial, nor is it exclusive. All authority is given to Him, meaning all flesh and all affairs are subject to His sovereignty. The mission of the church, to make known the Gospel of salvation, is under the authority of Jesus. Every breath and act of humans are under the authority of Jesus. Even the sin of man is now under the redemptive authority of Jesus.
So, when Jesus gave this Great Commission, we can know that He gave it with all power, enabling believers to live out the message of the Gospel in a way that is entirely subject to He who has made salvation possible.
The mission cannot fail because the authority of Christ cannot fail. This is hope-spurning to every believer who participates in the Great Commission. We are invited to join in on doing the victorious work which only God can do: Making disciples for the One who holds all authority.
The Great Commission Matters Because Of What Was Said
Jesus was not suggesting how believers could live. He was giving a command. The life of Jesus was an example of how to make disciples of every nation, and it was time for all those who had learned from Him to follow in His footsteps.
We must look at these words and remember that Jesus was not simply commanding world-evangelism, but He was commanding that disciples be made. To make a disciple is to teach a Christian what their new identity in Christ means, and how they are to live in it. Jesus made disciples by years of teaching His followers how to live in Him.
There are two parts to this, which Jesus tells believers to lead others into (1) public proclamation of faith, baptism, and (2) teaching the new believers all that He taught.
This is for every nation, every tribe, every tongue, every individual. There is not one person whom the Lord does not want to be made known to, and there is no one place where a believer should not go and aim to make disciples.
This is not something men can do on their own accord, which is why Jesus says: “I am with you always.” The Great Commission, the command for believers, is not left without a promise. What God has purposed will be accomplished, He will be “exalted among the nations” (Psalm 46). Because He is unfailing and His mission is unfailing, and because He promises to be with us as we live out His mission, why would we hold back in joining Him?
The Great Commission Matters Because Of When It Was Given
The Great Commission is not only important because of its content. It is also important because of its timing in Biblical history.
The entire narrative of Scripture is building to point to the coming Messiah. Jesus’s life is building to point to His death, burial, and resurrection. Over Jesus’ ministry, he talked about many things to teach believers about living a faithful life.
Just as His messages before the resurrection are intentional, the focus of His message after the resurrection is intentional. Over his life, he had taught his followers how to be disciples, and now he is instructing them what to do as His disciples.
This is a pinnacle point in Biblical history, as Jesus commissions His disciples and all believers to take on His ministry on earth. By this, the church age had begun leading to the spreading of the Gospel to every nation.
The Great Commission Matters Because Of How The Disciples Responded
When Jesus gave this commission, the disciples responded in ways that reflected the power behind His words.
The disciples knew Jesus. They had spent years following Him and partaking in His ministry. They watched as He lived out the heart of God. They were changed by His radical expressions of love and desire for people to come to know Him. They witnessed the devastation of His death and the victory of His resurrection. They knew Jesus.
Because of the disciple’s relationship with Jesus, their response to this Great Commission was absolute obedience. He told them to go, and they went, living radically for this calling.
Most of the disciples were persecuted and martyred for their response, yet this did not hinder the spread of the Gospel.
The obedience of the disciples should be an example to all of us as we read the words they heard. Just as they knew Jesus, we know Jesus. Just as the disciples responded- taking on the Great Commission as their mission, as should we.
As we consider what the Great Commission is and why it matters, we must ask ourselves: does it matter if someone hears the Gospel in their lifetime?
If the Gospel is how eternal salvation is received and we are given the call to share this salvation should the Great Commission matter to us? How should we respond?
The hope for the lost individual, whether next door or in the most remote part of the earth is acceptance of the Gospel. Jesus entrusts the spreading of this hope to us.
God’s ultimate plan is revealed in Revelation 7:9 which says, “After this, I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands“.
One day, we will stand before God, praising His name with all of the nations. What a privilege it will be to know that each of us played a small role in hearing His name exalted in new languages, tribes, and people.
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