“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”
What makes Jesus’s commission so great anyway?
I understand it is the singular mission that Jesus gives to anyone that chooses to follow him. But, why is it great?
If we aren’t careful, we can simply see these words from Jesus as a command to be obeyed. If that’s all it was from the mouth of our King, then that would be enough. But the Bible gives us more context as to why these words, in particular, are given as the directive of his church and the commission of his disciples. To see it, we need to zoom out from Matthew 28 and see the sweeping scope of God’s redemptive plan, and then ask how this command fits into God’s plan.
We need to go back to the very beginning where we see God create everything perfectly. It only takes two pages before everything is ruined. This is known as the “fall,” when mankind rebelled against their God and sin entered the world for the first time. A curse fell upon God’s good creation and where there was once only peace, now, there was death. Everything was damaged that day. Adam, Eve, and everyone that followed them would be separated from God because of their sin.
The world then descends into that darkness. We turn in on ourselves and against others—murder, rebellion, and corruption. The world was spiraling out of control until the events of Genesis 6. God sends a worldwide flood as a sign of his judgment. He does, however, save one family and many animals on an ark in his mercy. Still, not even a flood that covered every square inch of the earth was enough to solve the problem. That’s because the problem wasn’t external; it was internal. Sin still had a hold and would spread again until Genesis 11. God once again sends his judgement at the Tower of Babel as people strive to make a name for themselves. God scatters the nations and there seems to be no hope for humanity. We appear doomed to follow the evil inclinations of our own hearts and run away from God.
But then, the reader turns the page to Genesis 12. Pastor Mark Dever describes Genesis 12 as “the most crucial event in the Bible between the fall of Adam and the birth of Christ occurs in Genesis 12.” Do you know what that event is? The call of Abraham.
“The Lord said to Abram: Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3
We know that this blessing wasn’t just a promise to make Abraham rich, because Paul writes this in Galatians 3:8 “Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and proclaimed the gospel ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 12 sets in motion the events of the rest of the Bible. It is here that God tips his hand and says, “Here is my plan of redemption. This will be my mission. I’m calling you and I will bless you and your family and, through that blessing, I will save the entire world.”
God has always had a worldwide plan; global missions isn’t just a New Testament idea. When God calls Abraham, he didn’t just have one man or one family or even one nation in mind; he was thinking about the entire earth. God’s plan for blessing his people through the redemption of his Son has always had a missional thrust to it. God’s mission has always had a global target from day one. That’s the beginning, and the end looks sovereignly similar.
God’s worldwide plan is seen both in the promise of Genesis 12 as well as the praise of Revelation 7. The fulfillment of that promise to Abraham is seen in John’s revelation. “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10
Look who is sitting in the seats around the throne, worshipping Jesus as the Lamb of God who has taken away the sins of the world: every tribe, every tongue, and every nation. This is the blessing that God promised to all the families of the earth. His people around the world have been saved from darkness, brokenness, and punishment, and they will finally dwell with him. He is their God; they are his people.
In Genesis, God commits to his plan. In Revelation, God completes his plan.
The mission is to transfer a people from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of light, from wrath to joy, from death to life. The mission of God is to rescue, form, and, ultimately, dwell with his people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. That plan was initiated by a missionary God. In John’s gospel alone, Jesus says the phrase “the Father sent me” 14 different times.
In a very real sense, Jesus is the first Christian missionary. He left the comforts and benefits of heaven to go into another land, and to live there among the people to bring redemption and salvation to a lost and dying world. He left his home to go into a foreign country to spread his gospel as he was sent by his Father.God didn’t wait for us to come to him; he came to us.
When Jesus came, he had a clear mission: that people would see him, believe in him, and live forever. Jesus was sent to rescue his people. He was the emphatic “Yes!” to God’s promise to Abraham. However, the mission didn’t end with Jesus. He then turns to anyone that follows him and says these words: “As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21). If you’ve been saved by Jesus, then you’ve been sent by Jesus.
What is extraordinary, and unexpected, is that God has actually committed this plan of redemption to his people.
We see the conception of God’s plan in Genesis and the consummation of his plan in Revelation, but the commissioning of his plan is in Matthew 28, and it’s been given to you: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” This divine, worldwide, and cosmic plan of reconciliation and blessing has been given to us. The very means that God has chosen to use to fill the seats around the throne in Revelation is you as you go and make disciples.
Revelation 7 doesn’t happen if Matthew 28 isn’t obeyed.
This is why the commission is so great. It is an invitation into God’s divine and eternal plan of redemption. It is a call to make your life matter. In his wisdom, God has chosen to entrust his mission to you. The mission reaches into every aspect of your life. You don’t have to leave everything you’re doing to obey this commission; you simply have to approach everyday moments of your life with a gospel intentionality.
You are no longer simply a stay-at-home mom changing diapers, scrubbing the walls to get crayon off, or figuring out how to parent a teenager with a smartphone. You are now sent by your King into your primary mission field: your own home. You strive, with every decision, to give your children a glimpse of God’s character: his kindness, his grace, his love, and his justice. You are an ambassador for your King in the lives of your kids.
Think about where you work out, where you live, where you eat, where you wait to pick up your kids from dance class. Do you stare at your phone during your kid’s practice, or do you try and meaningfully engage other parents in the hopes of establishing a relationship to share Jesus with them? How about being honest at work and living generously in the sight of others?
Every seemingly menial action in your life, when done in obedience to Jesus, fits into this plan of redemption and gives significance to every moment. In doing this, you are obeying the Great Commission and playing your part in God’s worldwide plan of redemption.
It is time for each of us to step into the story that God has for us. It is time for us to listen to Jesus, and learn what makes this commission truly great.