"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . . "
(Matt. 28:18-20 - known as the Great Commission)
The Command in the Great Commission:
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 tells us to GO.
It does not say "bring them and make disciples."
Nor does it say that we are to urge them to "come and see" but rather to GO.
The words "come and see" were spoken to those who were already His disciples to confirm that Jesus was no longer in the tomb but risen from the dead.
The command, however, is not so much to go but to make disciples.
"While you are going, make disciples," Jesus was telling them. They were gathered there with Jesus but soon would be going. As they were going, they would undoubtedly meet many people along the way who needed Jesus. They were to invest into their lives.
How are we investing our lives when we go out from times of worship and edification? Is the Great Commission a part of our lifestyle?
The Context of the Great Commission:
The disciples had been gathered together just prior to Jesus' ascension worshiping Jesus. Some in their midst doubted. They were having a hard time getting beyond the cross and beyond the grave to the resurrection.
Possibly these doubters were the ones who most needed to hear Jesus' assertion of "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." This authority gave Him power over death.
The next words Jesus spoke, "Therefore go," must be kept in context. It is as though Jesus is saying that the time to "come and see" is over. Jesus triumphed over death. If you believe it, GO and make disciples.
How impacted are we by His ability to change lives for eternity? If we truly believe it, what more motivation do we need to be involved in outreach?
The Promise in the Great Commission:
His authority was all encompassing ... "all authority in heaven and on earth." Nothing could hold Him down.
Then comes the assurance that the resurrected Jesus would be with them as they go and make disciples ... "And surely I am with you, always, to the very end of the age."
What greater assurance did they need? They could get out of their comfort zones and go be His witnesses not only "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria," but even "to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
Where is the power in our outreach efforts? Do we have the confidence and boldness that comes through knowing His presence in our lives?
The Objective of the Great Commission:
Notice that the command was to "go and make disciples" not simply to "go and tell" others about Jesus.
The Great Commission takes people beyond walking an aisle, praying to receive Jesus, and saying they believe. The Great Commission takes people to the point of publicly identifying with Jesus ("baptizing them") and learning to let Him be Lord of their everyday lives and not simply their Savior ("teaching them to obey").
The Outreach Ministry Manual includes this content along with some Scripture and further reflection on the Great Commission to help us better understand what outreach is and what it is not.
Click on the links below for more on the Great Commission:
- Church Leaders & the Great Commission
- The Great Commission: Whose Responsibility is It?
- What's So Great About the Great Commission?