Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Great Commission

Matthew 28:16-20
Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him—but some of them still doubted!
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The Great Commission
Just before Jesus ascended into Heaven He gave His followers a mission statement. “The Great Commission” encapsulates the ministry and training of Jesus in a nutshell.
In His final words He revealed his heart and passion. We can learn vast amounts from these five short verses of Matthew.

going where Jesus told them to go
The eleven disciples went to the mountain top—all of them. Why? Because disciples know that Jesus is always in charge. He told them to go, and they went. Likewise, our lives ring true when we obey Jesus faithfully.

they worshipped Him
Jesus met them right where He said He would. When they saw Him they worshipped the risen Saviour. When we go where Jesus invites us, we too will see Him in all His glory. And we will worship.

some of them still doubted
It is amazing that after seeing all they had—Jesus had fed thousands with a boy’s lunch, healed the sick, raised the dead and even came back from the dead Himself—some of them still doubted.
This tells us that having doubts doesn’t disqualify you from service. In fact, doubt signifies you are struggling with your thoughts and beliefs. Dealing with doubt is part of healthy faith. Followers of Jesus may have their doubts, but their doubts don’t have them!

I have been given complete authority
Followers of Jesus do not need influence, reputation or authority to merit the role of disciple. Jesus, in conquering sin, on the cross, and death, on resurrection Sunday, achieved our victory over both. And the Father returned to Him complete authority over all creation when He returned to His rightful place in Heaven. Jesus offers His authority to His followers. Because we have confidence in Jesus’ full authority, we can obey the directive that follows.
go and make disciples
“As you are going” is a more fitting translation of the word “go.” Jesus’ point isn’t: get ready, learn your stuff, pack your bags and go. “Go” is in the present tense.
Likewise, immediately after the ten commandments it is written: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7). As you are going, make disciples. It’s a call to mums, dads, grand parents, siblings, teachers, preachers and soccer coaches. Make disciples as you go about life.

of all the nations
Followers of Jesus have a global vision. None of the eleven disciples would have thought they were personally to go to every nation on earth. They understood that Christianity is a team sport. It requires each of us to go to the world around us. And like a sporting team there is no position on the team for spectators. We are touching our part of the world for Jesus with our candle lit by His torch. Together we will set the world alight.
baptising them in the name
Two things are clear about Jesus’ connection with baptism: He was baptised and He didn’t baptise others. He supervised as his followers baptised. He continues to attend every baptism and rejoice as another loved one is added to the family.
We, the baptised, identify with Jesus because He too was baptised. We, the baptisers, identify with Him as we continue the work. There is a powerful allegiance that emerges from the waters of baptism.
Because of the three names in which Jesus commanded us to baptise, we believe in the Trinity. And we, in joining His family through the waters of baptism, comprehend the intertwined nature of His divinity. We, the church, are one—His bride.

teach them to obey my commands
As followers of Jesus we recognise that knowing the precepts of the Bible is not enough. Obedience is the key to worshipping our precious Saviour. And thus we obey and teach others to do so.

be sure of this
Disciples have assurance of two things:
First they are promised Jesus’ continual presence. It’s a co-mission because we are never alone while living it out—Jesus is always with us. Knowing that He has complete authority in Heaven and on Earth empowers us to act. We need not fear earthly punishment because we know our eternal God is returning to claim us and take us to His eternal kingdom.
And that reveals the second surety, and Jesus’ conclusion. Followers of Jesus live in hope—hope of an end to sin, hope of a new age in a new place with old friends. We know that Jesus is returning to claim His followers. He has the authority, the power and the glory to bring an end to sin and suffering for eternity. We, His followers, fully expect that day to be soon.