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The Great Commission

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 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 commission that follows is given in light of the authority of Jesus. This indicates that this is an authoritative command, not a suggestion. It is the same idea as if an officer reminded a private of his rank before he gave the order. Because He has this authority, He can send whomever He wills to do whatever He pleases.

Because Jesus has this authority we are therefore commanded to go. It is His authority that sends us, His authority that guides us, and His authority that empowers us. His work and message would continue to the world through His disciples.

The command is to make disciples, not merely converts or supporters of a cause. The idea behind the word disciples is of scholars, learners, or students.

In His previous ministry, Jesus deliberately restricted His work to the Jewish people (Matthew 15:24) and previously sent His disciples with the same restriction (Matthew 10:6). Only on rare exceptions did Jesus minister among the Gentiles (Matthew 15:21-28). Now all of that is in the past, and the disciples are commissioned to take the gospel to all the nations. There is no place on earth where the gospel of Jesus should not be preached and were disciples should not be made.

Significantly, when Jesus told them to go to all the nations, He did not tell them to circumcise those who became disciples. Instead, they were to baptize them, suggesting the break with traditional Judaism.

Disciples are made through teaching. This teaching is not with words only, but with the power of the always-present Jesus. He will be present with His people until the job of making disciples is done – until the end of the age.

Jesus sent His disciples with a mission to fulfill, but He did not send them alone. The promise of His constant presence was more than enough to strengthen and guide the disciples as they obeyed Jesus in making disciples of all the nations.

– David Guzik

Which aspect of these verses prompts you most for change?

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  1. 16/10/2012 at 2:09 pm

    Reblogged this on YOU DECIDE.

  2. 16/10/2012 at 3:00 pm

    i have a different focus on v18-19. If Jesus meant to say that “i have authority so I can send you”, wouldn’t it more normal for Him to just command them to make disciple? Instead, Jesus seems to be explaining something that the Eleven don’t know at the moment, and that is “all authority has given to me”.

    Because Jesus has already WON against the devil, his power is now useless (or nullified). The Devil used to have authority over menkind and menkind are bound to the devil, now this bondage is broken. Therefore, we can go a make disciples based on Jesus authority.

  3. 21/10/2012 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Alban! Like us, the disciples were probably quite dull and slow to understanding so Jesus probably needed to state that he had his authority!

    My personal belief is that the command to “go and make disciples” needs to adapt to the culture and context in which we live. Some practices like “the direct approach” may have worked in the past or still does in third world countries, but in the western culture the trend I have noticed is “Don’t tell me what to believe, if I’m interested I’ll come to you.” In a place where free-thinking and speech is king, no one wants to be told what to believe.

    In response to this mentality, I feel that corporate concepts such as “branding” and “marketing” become more relevant. The theory is that you manage people’s perception of the Christian brand, which will largely be achieved through personal testimonies and experiences with the Church. The most effective marketing we can do is to portray the true image of Christ through our living example of love, grace, and integrity.

  4. 23/10/2012 at 5:17 pm

    Hi Ben,

    Yeah, our life should be a testimony of Jesus. We should live as if we are ambassador from Christ’s kingdom. Although I agree with you that the direct approach may not be most effective nowadays. I want to bring out that we should still uplift the fact that “the gospel, [because it] is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1). The purpose for Paul to say that is to encourage us not to be ashamed of the Gospel, although the world think that it is “foolish”.

    Gospel contains power, because it is Jesus’s authority that enabled it. I must admit that I myself lacked the faith in the authority of God over unbelievers. Do I have the conviction that the Gospel has power over the most hard-hearted sinners? I honestly don’t most of the time. Isn’t it a type of “ashamed” of the Gospel for our lack the faith on God’s authority over salvation. I think so.

    We may use a different approach on passing the gospel nowadays. But whatever method we use, we should maintain the “boldness” that the bible asked us to have.

  5. 27/10/2012 at 8:53 pm

    Absolutely Alban; I have been giving this more thought lately and another interesting revelation came to mind – the gospel will mean the most to those who are spiritually hungry. People may think “why do I need medicine when I am not sick?” In the same way, why do they need forgiveness of sin when they don’t believe they are sinful?

    Once again from a marketing point of view, it makes more sense to target people who have a need and desire for what you have to offer.

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