The Great Commission was Jesus’ last command to his disciples. Just before his ascension into heaven he said to them:
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
I believe Jesus thought very carefully before He delivered these words.
What do My disciples need to hear?
What’s the ONE THING I want them to pass on to every generation of Christ-followers?
When they hear these words, how will they be received?
Knowing the size of the Commission, Jesus starts by assuring them that He has the authority to issue it. “All authority has been given to Me,” he says. All authority. All authority. That’s a lot of authority!
Once He finished giving the Commission, He assures them that they will never have to fulfill the Commission on their own. “Rest assured, I will be with you always,” he concludes. Always. Always! That’s a long time.
From that day to this, Jesus has been with His followers, guiding them to fulfill His Great Commission. We’ve done a pretty good job so far. Christianity has become the largest movement in the world. It’s invaded every nation, and almost every people group. Just a few are left.
You want to know what’s frustrating about the Great Commission?
It’s this: the number of Christians who are not willing to acknowledge that the Great Commission is their Great Commission – that when Jesus addressed His disciples, He was expecting that every disciple would be a disciple-maker.
“Go,” he said. “Make disciples.” If this is my Commission, then my first question is, “Lord, where should I go?”
His answer is, “Where I have currently sent you.” The word “go” in this passage is a Greek participle, meaning, “having gone your way.” In other words, wherever you are, make disciples.
So, where are you today?
Who are you near? Who are you in relationship with?
Summertime presents unique opportunities to build new friendships: outdoor block parties, backyard barbecues, trips to the beach. The nights are longer and the weather invites us outdoors.
Who are you near that you could take a first Great Commission step with?
This is how great churches become great. Their members build intentional friendships and step by step, lead people to Christ.
According to Jesus, “making disciples” is only the first step for us. Step two is to baptize them. The word “baptizo” in Greek means “to immerse, or plunge into.” Jesus’ idea of baptism wasn’t a safe sprinkling of water on one’s forehead. It was all the way down and all the way back up again – enabling us to demonstrate with our bodies, “I died, He now lives in me.” It’s a manly statement. It’s a mini-resurrection.
Paul says it this way, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).
That’s what a believer’s baptism demonstrated. You go down into the water like you’re being buried. You come up out of the water like you’ve been raised to new life.
Step one of the Great Commission: make a disciple.
Step two: baptize them.
Step three: teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded.
Jesus is full of superlatives in this passage, isn’t He? ALL authority. With us ALWAYS. And, teach them EVERYTHING He commanded us.
There can’t be a taller order.
I’ll never understand the man who thinks that Christian leadership is soft or easy. Not only does Jesus ask for dedication to His cause of making saints out of sinners, all the forces of hell are unleashed to keep us from doing so.
I defy anyone to come up with a more challenging assignment.
I also defy anyone to come up with a more rewarding one.
The first night I led someone to Christ, I barely slept. God has used me to usher someone into relationship with Him. How incredible is that? Someone Christ died for now has a relationship with Him, in part, because of me! I had been used by God for the purpose that was and is most precious to God: His reunion with one of his wayward sons.
If I could wish only one thing for every believer I know, it’s that they would have a chance at least once in their life to be the person God used to change other’s eternity.
That’s my wish for you.
The Great Commission was like a military briefing: short, clear, to the point. This is what I’m tasking you with:
1. Wherever you are, make disciples.
2. Whenever you do, baptize them.
3. Whatever you do, teach them to be like Jesus.
And surely He will be with you always: in every prayer, every attempt and every conversation you have in your efforts to make His last commant your first concern.