I was thinking: it must have shaken his disciples to the core when Jesus gave them this mission. Two thousand years later, if we take them seriously, they still both shock us and thrill us. This Commission was given to every follower of Jesus, not to pastors and missionaries alone.
- A never-to-be-forgotten day
Imagine the scene. 11 men had gathered on a mountainside, and they were emotionally exhausted. Who wouldn’t be, after all they had been through in a few short weeks? They had experienced the heights of hope and the depths of despair, not once but over and over again. They had lived for weeks in fear of their lives. They had endured the shock of having their best friend and inspirational leader publicly executed, and unbelievably, break free from a heavily guarded rock tomb and appear among them on several distinct occasions after his resurrection.
- A never-to-be forgotten mandate
It is in this highly charged context that the Lord Jesus gives the disciples his final instructions. For centuries, the church has known the concluding verses of Matthew’s Gospel as “the Great Commission”, in the same way that Matthew 22:37-39 is known as “the Great Commandment”.
What exactly is it that Jesus told his disciples? “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.”(Matt 28:18-20)
In fact, there is only one command in these verses: “make disciples of all nations” (that’s the only imperative in the original Greek). But, that command is encircled on the one hand by a breathtaking statement of fact (“All authority…) and on the other by a comprehensive promise (“and surely I am with you always,…), and explained by three activities / participles (“as you go”, “baptizing”, “teaching”), which are the inescapable tasks to undertake in order to fulfil the command!
However, I was also thinking - perhaps “going, baptizing and teaching” are illustrative rather than saying all there is to say. Or perhaps, each embraces a significant portion of what is involved in making disciples and God's mission. Hence I also reckon that the other items in the previous post are part of God's mission for His Church universal.