What Is So “Great” About The Great Commission?

Grace For The Journey

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12July Words like “great” and “awesome” have lost a little bit of their punch in our language.  We use them so often and for so many things that they’ve lost a little bit of their significance.  For example, we might eat a really tasty pizza and say, “Wow! That pizza was awesome!”  Or on the Fourth of July, we might rig up some kind of homemade firework and when we set it off we say, “That was awesome!”

I think it’s kind of humorous to put the dictionary definition of “awesome” into those statements.  We’d feel kind of silly saying, “That pizza filled me with an overwhelming sense of reverence!”  The dictionary does also mention an overwhelming sense of fear, so that might apply to your homemade bomb on the Fourth of July!

Because of the way that we use words like “great” and “awesome,” when we talk in church about the Great Commission, we might wonder what’s great about it.

Why do we call it

The “Great” Commission, anyway?

In today’s blog, I’d like to give you four answers to that question today as we take a look at the commission that Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 28:16-20.

The event recorded in this passage is taking place after Jesus rose from the grave.  The text says, “Now the 11 disciples went to Galilee [remember that Judas Iscariot is no longer part of the group!], to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted.”

That statement in the context of this story takes us by surprise.  What were the disciples doubting?  Were some of them doubting whether Jesus had really come back to life?  Most likely, their doubts were about their worship.  The Greek term here includes the act of bowing down to someone, and even though the disciples were coming to understand that Jesus was God and the Messiah, He was also a human being, and the thought of bowing down to a human being would have been very foreign to the minds of these Jewish men.

So most likely, they were having questions or doubts about what they should do now in the presence of Jesus.  They most likely were wondering, “Does He want us to bow down to Him?  After all, we remember Him washing our feet and telling us not to act all high and mighty.  What does He want us to do?”

Jesus doesn’t address any questions of etiquette, but instead He gives them a mission, or we might say he commissions them for a job.  Starting in verse 18, we begin to see why we refer to this as the “Great” Commission.

1. It comes from a great authority.

The Bible says in Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came and spoke to the, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”  The first part of the Father’s plan for Jesus required Him to submit to various human beings.  He submitted to His parents while He was growing up, then later He submitted to the Jewish and Roman authorities.

But the days for Jesus to submit to other humans are over.  The Father has declared Him to be the Lord of heaven and earth, and if only all men everywhere would worship Him as such!  But many people have not heard that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, or some have heard, and they have continued in rebellion against Him.

And so, there is a need for the commission Jesus gives his disciples in verses 19 and 20.

2. It has a great goal.

The Bible says in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.  Amen.” 

What a lofty and satisfying goal this is, to call people to become apprentices of Jesus – to call them to embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior, make that fact known through baptism, and then to learn from Jesus’ teachings how to navigate all the ins and outs of life.

This is the greatest goal to which

We could possibly devote our lives.

What even compares to it?  Accumulating a fortune that you just have to leave behind anyway?  A fortune that your kids might fight over or even squander?  Grasping for your 15 minutes of fame that might be gone even before you are?

No goal could possibly be greater than this Commission, and this Commission also serves as the marching orders for the church.  If you’ve ever asked yourself . . .

“What should our church really be focused on?”

There’s really no mystery to the answer.

We are to make disciples of all nations,

Lead people to be baptized,

And teach them how to live a life

That’s based on the Word of God.

Sure, some of the details will be different for different churches based on where they’re located and the resources they have, but our common goal is laid out right here, and it’s as plain as day.

3. It has a great scope.

Notice that Jesus told them to make disciples of “all nations.”  Previously, in Matthew 10, Jesus had sent the disciples out on a short-term preaching tour, and at that time He had told them to stay within the boundaries of Israel.

But now there was to be no such restriction.

Since Jesus has all authority on earth,

All the inhabitants of Earth

Need to hear the offer

Of forgiveness & eternal life

From their crucified and risen King.

The Gospel is not a message for Israel alone, but for all people.  There is also no room for prejudice or racism in our efforts to spread the Gospel.  The offer of salvation is made to all people, and all people need to hear it.

4. It comes with a great promise.

After giving His disciples this commission, He gives them this promise: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In may seem ironic that after giving this promise, Jesus left the Earth and returned to heaven just a few days later.  But by doing so, He made it possible to be with all of his disciples all the time – at the same time, no matter where they might be.  Remember that Jesus’ physical body could not be in two places at once any more than yours or mine can.

But after returning to heaven, Jesus sent His Spirit upon His disciples on the day of Pentecost.  The Spirit has come to live in every believer since that time.  So, Jesus has certainly made good on this promise, and He will continue to do so.

The Spirit’s presence within us is a wonderful reality of the unity that we enjoy with Jesus through faith.  Baptism is a wonderful picture of that unity as we symbolize the fact that through faith, we have died, been buried, and have been raised to new life with Jesus.  Let us celebrate with those who choose to take this important step

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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