“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 28:19:20
These were Jesus’ final words to his followers. After three years of teaching and preaching, traveling and visiting, laughing and crying, eating and sleeping, healing and miracle-working, encouraging, exhorting, and chastising - it was time to say goodbye. But “goodbye” was not what Jesus had in mind. Instead of “take care” and “I’m going to miss you all”, he told his followers to GO and tell the world about everything they had seen and heard and learned and experienced with him. This was not the end of anything, rather this was a whole new beginning in which Jesus was about to reveal the absolute truth of his words:
“I have given you authority to overcome all the power of the enemy…” (Luke 10:19)
“Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.
He will do even greater things than these…” (John 14:12)
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name…” (John 14:13)
“Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Holy Spirit speaking through you…” (Mark 13:11)
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
“And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
None of these promises would be completely fulfilled until Jesus stepped back behind the curtain of the physical dimension and set his children loose to obey and trust and display God’s presence and power at work in and through them. Once this presence and power fell upon them, they would never be the same.
I used to view the Great Commission as this one-dimensional command to action for the purpose of growing God’s kingdom on earth, but now I’ve come to realize that God’s agenda is also to grow His kingdom in me. In fact, both are mutually dependant upon the other. As I participate in growing God’s kingdom on earth I experience things that continuously grow His presence and power in me…and I too am never the same again.
The Great Commission is a call to outward action AND inward growth! The key to the Great Commission is that it requires followers of Jesus to take that most crucial step of association by proclamation. Making Jesus known, by default, also makes it known that you’re his follower! The Great Commission wouldn’t allow Christ’s first followers to hide any longer in the upper room in confusion and fear…it was time to tell the world about a Savior who died on the cross for the sins of all mankind, who rose from the grave and reigns over all creation, who is willing to save any who call on his name and follow him! Once these first followers began to speak of such things…there was no going back.
The alternative to living a Great Commission life is demonstrated by Peter on the night Jesus was arrested. This disciple of the King – who so easily boasted of his loyalty when surrounded by fellow believers – entered the courtyard of the High Priest in silence, keeping to the shadows, and soon found himself denying over and over again any relationship with his Savior. The Great Commission is about SPEAKING OUT so as to STAND OUT as one SOLD OUT to Jesus Christ! Until you share with those around you that you’re a Christian and tell of the importance of believing in Christ – until then – it’s easy to remain silent and in the shadows. It may also prove easy to deny you even know your Savior.
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” Hebrews 10:39
At the end of their lives those first 11 disciples, who once hid in fear and doubt in the upper room, all died a martyr’s death for following Christ. Where did such courage and faith come from? The answer is the Great Commission. As they “went” and “made” and “baptized” and “taught” and as the kingdom of God grew around them, it also grew within them. Simply put, there is spiritual growth we will never know about until we “go” and “make” and “baptize” and “teach”. The Great Commission teaches us to trust God more – as we trust Him more, we grow in faith – as we grow in faith, we live out the Great Commission – and around and around we go for God’s glory. His kingdom constantly growing on the earth and inside of us.
GOD OF KINGDOM GROWTH, I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW THAT I BELONG TO YOU! I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH AND TELL OF THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU HAVE DONE FOR ME. I WILL GO WHEREVER YOU ASK AND SPEAK OF YOUR SALVATION. AS I SPEAK LORD, GROW MY FAITH IN YOU AND FILL ME WITH MORE OF YOUR PRESENCE AND POWER. MAY THOSE WHO HEAR AND SEE ME RECOGNIZE THAT YOU ARE TRUE AND PUT THEIR TRUST IN YOU. TAKE MY FEARS AND DOUBTS AND REPLACE THEM WITH BOLD EXPECTATION THAT YOU WILL FULFILL YOUR PROMISES. I WANT TO MAKE YOU KNOWN LORD. I WANT TO KNOW YOU MORE. (Philemon 1:6)