Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Great Commission

In my last post, we discussed what is mission. Most of us agree that mission involves the Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20, which was the last words of the risen Lord Jesus before his ascension into heaven.

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.


Bill said...

I think the "going, baptizing and teaching" are THE mandate in making disciples. However, the teaching part involves "teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded you." There is much more to following Jesus than just making disciples. We need to obey the Great Commission. We need to obey the Great Commandment.

George Patterson talks about the seven commands of Jesus, which form a good summary of what life as a disciple should be about.

Kitty Cheng said...

Hi Bill, thanks for dropping by my blog and your comment. So what does George Patteron's seven commands of Jesus?

Bill said...

1. To receive Christ.
2. To be baptized.
3. To worship / Lord's Supper.
4. To love God; to love people.
5. To pray.
6. To give.
7. To make disciples.

I would think that the acts of mercy that were described in your last post might be included in #4 (#4b?) and #6.

Kitty Cheng said...

Thanks Bill..these are foundational, and extreme important.