16 The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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 everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” — Matthew 28:16-20
Jesus Commissions Us to Teach Others
by Karla Worley
Contrast the picture of Jesus as a Jewish Rabbi, traveling around the rural Galilean countryside, His little band of disciples watching and learning, with the picture of the missionary church in Acts, spreading rapidly and boldly across the known world, engaging people of all ethnicity with the good new of Jesus. What made the difference?
First, they were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus, and second, they were commissioned by that Jesus to go and make disciples of all peoples. Third, they were empowered by His Spirit, the presence and power of Jesus with them always, just as He promised them in this encounter.
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Therefore…Don’t miss the words that precede “therefore”! We learn something about the resurrected Jesus: at the center of everything, Christ rules. (Ephesians 1:20-23) So His commission is not optional. He not only has the right to commission us to a task, but He also has the ability to help us carry out that commission.
Make disciples. What does making disciples include? Going, baptizing, and teaching others to obey everything that Jesus has commanded. This means we must first know what Jesus has commanded and be obeying it ourselves, so we can teach others to do the same. How can we reproduce what we are not producing?
Of all nations. The Greek word here is ethnos—people of all cultures, races and religions. We don’t get to choose what “people group” we are called to. We are commissioned to make disciples of whomever we encounter as we go. It’s a key part of God’s plan that the good news of salvation be presented to all the people of the world, because only then will the end come. (Matthew 24:14)
What will it look like to carry out our commission? It should look like Jesus carrying out His commission. “As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you,” Jesus said. (John 20:21) How did God send Him? Read Isaiah 61:1-3, and then consider what you know from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry.
Notice how Jesus spent His time and whom He spent it with, in light of His commission. What was the good news He told them? Who received it as good news? What kind of conversations and word pictures did He use in teaching them who God is and what God expects of them? Who was He gentle with, in teaching? Who was He harsh with? And how did His life speak about God?
Here’s how the Apostle Paul described what the Great Commission looks like: “The church is Christ’s body, in which He speaks and acts, by which He fills everything with His presence.” (Ephesians 1:23 MSG)
- Although God did begin His work through the Jewish people, all of Scripture makes it clear that God’s agenda from the beginning is that the whole world will know and obey Him. Study these Scriptures: Genesis 12:1-3, Psalm 2:7-8, Psalm 22:27, Isaiah 49:6, Mark 11:17, Luke 24:46. How do these Scriptures point forward to Christ? How do they point forward to the believer’s commission?
- We often make this passage about “going” as a missionary to other parts of the world. But Christ’s commission to every follower is “make disciples as you go.” Make a list of the places you go in the course of your daily life. Begin to list the people you encounter regularly in those places. Where are you in the process of “making disciples” of them? Introducing them to Christ? Inviting them to believe and follow Him? Helping them take steps to get baptized? Or teaching them to know and obey what Jesus taught? Pray about the next step you should take with the people God has put in your path as you go.
- What is the thing that keeps you from obeying Christ’s commission? Is it going to people unlike you? Is it sharing the good news of Jesus? Is it discipling another person? How do you need to prepare or train in order to equip yourself better to carry out your commission?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.