Key Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20, And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (KJV)
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.” (NIV)
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
Other references: Mark 16:15-18, Luke 24:46-49, Acts 1:8, John 20:21-23
On a mountain somewhere around Galilee, a group of men (Jesus’s disciples) were given the greatest challenge to tell others the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and of God’s love and forgiveness to a broken and sinful world.
The Definition of a disciple according to:
Merriam-Webster dictionary: one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as Christianity: one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel accounts
Bible dictionary: a scholar, sometimes applied to the followers of John the Baptist (Matthew 9:14 ), and of the Pharisees ( 22:16 ), but principally to the followers of Christ. A disciple of Christ is one who (1) believes his doctrine, (2) rests on his sacrifice, (3) imbibes his spirit, and (4) imitates his example (Matthew 10:24 ; Luke 14:26 Luke 14:27 Luke 14:33 ; John 6:69).
Cambridge dictionary: a person who believes in the ideas of a leader, esp. A religious or political one, and tries to live according to those ideas
We can conclude then, that the definition of a disciple is someone who receives instruction from another person. But a Christian disciple is a baptized follower of Christ, one who believes the teaching of Christ.
With that definition, we are now going to look at this command from six questions: Who? What? Why? Where? When? and How?
I. Who gave the Great Commission and to whom was it given?
Verse 18, “and Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’”
There is only one person who can give such a great challenge, and that is Jesus Christ, the son of God. Mark makes Jesus place clear in Mark 1:1 where he wrote, “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
The deity of Christ is further stated in John 1:1-5, “in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. 2 the same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 in him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
Genesis 1:26a says, “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
In Colossians 1:15,16, we find more about Jesus “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.”
Then, Paul continued in Colossians 2:3,9-10, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge… 9 for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”
God became man. He walked and communed with man. He died on the cross and was raised from the dead to save people from sin and to give them eternal life, to those who accept him into their heart.
Turning to Matthew 19b, Jesus affirms the reality of the Trinity: “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…”
Jesus says baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is sharing the three-in-one nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is baptism unites a believer with Jesus Christ in their death to sin and resurrection to new life. Baptism symbolized submission to Christ and a willingness to live God’s way.
To whom did Jesus give the Great Commission?
He gave it to His 11 disciples but also to every Christian who believes on him. When we represent Jesus Christ as his disciple, we are representing the One who possesses all power, wisdom, and authority.
John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
1 John 4:4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
But you might say, the 11 disciples were different from me. They were much more extraordinary. They possessed something more powerful. Much better than me.
But they were just common, ordinary people. A working class of people having the same weaknesses as you and me. The only two differences are:
1. They experienced seeing Jesus crucified, resurrected, and then watched Him ascend into heaven.
2. They were the first to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
II. What is the Great Commission?
Verse 19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Jesus’s command is to take the Gospel to every person to every part of the world and to make disciples in all nations. But it doesn’t stop there. It involves training. Training these disciples to spread the Gospel in their area and to train these disciples to train other disciples to do the same. Generation after generation. We’ll call this spiritual multiplication.
What is the difference between spiritual addition and spiritual multiplication? Spiritual addition is one person leads someone to the Lord and then leads someone else to the Lord and continues this process, one by one. On the other hand, spiritual multiplication is a Christian disciple introduces a non-Christian to Jesus and then trains that Christian to share the Gospel. Then they each introduce someone to Christ. This process continues and expands resulting in Christian multiplication.
Our responsibility is to preach and teach the Gospel, it is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to make our witness effective.
III. Why should we help fulfill the Great Commission?
Let’s look at 4 reasons.
1. Jesus commanded us to do so. Jesus said, “Go!” But the sad thing is, most Christians have never taken this command seriously. But look at the world around us, what’s happening, what’s going on?
If we take our Lord seriously, we must dedicate our time, talent, and treasure to fulfill the Great Commission. Remember what Jesus has done for us.
Consider Mark 8:34-38. “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his father with the holy angels.”
2. There are people who are lost without Jesus Christ; this includes family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, associates, etc.
Romans 3:23 reminds us, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,…”
John 14:6 states that Jesus is the exclusive answer. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
In Acts 4:12, we see again that only the person of Jesus can save us. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
3. People everywhere are hungry for God. All over the world.
4. There is an urgency. We must have an urgency to complete this command while the doors of opportunity are still open.
John 4:35-36, “Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”
IV. When will the Great Commission be fulfilled?
The Great Commission is God’s idea and only He in his almighty power and all knowledge knows when and how it will fulfilled. Consider some of the following verses from Scripture:
Acts 1:7, “And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”
Matthew 24:36, “but of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”
Mark 13:32-33, “but of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.”
As Christians sharing the Gospel should be our number one priority each and every day, each and every minute, to each and every person. Why? Because the message of Jesus brings joy as we see in the story of Jesus’ birth? “And the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2.10).
V. Where must we go?
Acts 1:8, “but ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
We are to be involved in helping reach the entire world, but here Jesus gives us a strategy.
Jerusalem: in your own home, in your neighborhood, in your school, at your work.
Judea & Samaria: in your community, in your county (Atchison, Holt, Nodaway), in your state (Missouri), your nation (United States).
Rest of the world
But, as we go, Jesus gave us a promise: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28.20b).
Jesus is telling His disciples then and His disciples now, He will be with His followers spiritually until the end of this age, meaning until He returns.
Matthew 1:23b says, “and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
We must go out and obey His commission. Because even when we fail, He is faithful.
VI. How can I help fulfill the Great Commission? (Application)
Remember the 3 T’s: Time, Talents, Treasure
1. Become a Christian.
2. In everything, start with prayer. Take time to pray-ask God for guidance. Pray for the pastor, others, missionaries. Pray hearts will be softened.
3. Take inventory of your talents. How can you serve? We have all received gifts the we can use to help fulfill the great commission.
a. Be in church, be in bible study, be in Sunday School, be in fellowship.
b. Learn how to share the Gospel.
5. Be a mentor. Who can you come alongside? Invest in another. Teach another Christian to share the Gospel. Remember it is about multiplication.
6. Share your treasure. Give.
7. Develop a strategy: home, neighbors, relatives, work, school, county, state, nation, world.
The Great Commission reveals the heart of God. 1 Timothy 2:4 says that it is God “who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”