We often hear of the Great Commission.
"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)
So much is packed into these three verses - far more than I used to think.
To me this means to leave one place and head to another. Go where you have not yet been. Across the street, across the city, across the country, across the world. Jesus was telling his disciples to disperse, spread out. To where? To all nations. Why? To make disciples.
Don't complicate this. Being a missionary does not exclusively mean someone who leaves their home country for a foreign country. It means you have been given a mission and a message. Your neighbors need to know Jesus as much as people across the world and God has placed you near them for a divine purpose.
Making disciples is more than about making converts. It's great that we have opportunities to lead others in meeting and coming to know our Living Savior - Jesus Christ. But, our job doesn't end there - it is really just beginning.
Just imagine - Jesus, the perfect Son of God, spent three years of His life pouring into 12 men and we think we can walk with others, occasionally, just for a short time and we will see fruit? No, this disciple-making is a long process that takes dedication and patience.
"Of All Nations..."
Jesus was not referring to nations as we know them today because many of our countries did not exist then. The word "nations" comes from the Greek word ethne, which refers to people groups, races or Gentiles in general. Some countries are comprised of many, many different people groups. And many of those groups have never heard of Jesus Christ.
According to the Joshua Project (joshuaproject.net) there are 7,182 unreached people groups for a total of 2.9 billion people who have never heard of Jesus. "Unreached" is defined as "a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group."
About 43 percent of the world's population is still yet to be reached. And seventy percent of the unreached are in the 10/40 window. Daunting task? Yes.
In this verse Jesus clearly lays out the beginning steps of disciple-making. First, baptize these new disciples and then begin teaching them. Teaching them what? "Everything I have commanded you."
Everything Jesus had poured into His disciples He was now asking them to pour into others. We do not have access to everything Jesus shared with His disciples, but I believe much of it is contained in the gospels and letters these men and other Jesus followers penned and that are now in our Bible. We could spend years and years teaching what Jesus commanded in the Bible and never thoroughly cover it all. But let us begin somewhere.
Don't think you must be a Bible scholar or a degree holder or a "mature" Christian to disciple others. You must be a dedicated disciple yourself - a lover and follower of the Savior. Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians "Follow me as I follow Christ." In essence if this is true, the discipler and the disciplee are walking side by side, following the same person - Jesus - learning and growing together.
This process that began those many centuries ago continues today. Disciples making disciples making disciples making disciples. It has and must continue to perpetuate itself.
Why should we be involved in the Great Commission? Because Jesus, who was given all authority in heaven and on earth, commanded us to. He defeated Satan, sin and death by His sacrificial death and His glorious resurrection. He is the Reigning Savior and His kingdom must be advanced. Others must know of what He has done for them.
This commission was first given to the first-century disciples. Look how far we have come and yet look how far we have go to. Billions of people in thousands of groups around the world have yet to hear the Good News. This is an impossible task - if done in our strength and by our methods and with our limited resources. But we are not alone in this task.
Although when these words were spoken, Jesus was leaving the earth and ascending back to heaven, He made an incredible promise - "I am with you always - to the very end of the age." If He is with us, what more do we need? We cannot shy away from the task if Jesus has called us, equipped us and will be with us.
One day the Great Commission will be accomplished. How do I know this? Because we have a glimpse of who will be surrounding the throne of God at the end of time as we know it. People from every tribe, and language and people and nation, who have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb to be a Kingdom of priests for God.
"And they sang a new song with these words: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.'" (Revelation 5:9-10)
What does the Great Commission mean to you?
And how are you involved in fulfilling it?
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