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.”
The Great Commission is not only one of Jesus’ final commands, it is also Matthew’s final word in his Gospel. Matthew chose to end with this powerful order because the last thing he wanted Christ followers to know was Jesus’ instructions for us until the day He returns.
In the original Greek, the word used for “authority” is exousia, which literally means something that comes out of God’s very being. “Teaching,” indicates the means by which disciples of Jesus are continually transformed through the discipling process. Discipling is the involvement of one disciple in the life of another, helping them to grow in their faith.
Jesus uses the word “them” each time He refers to disciples, which indicates that everyone is to become a disciple and everyone is to make disciples. During the time when Jesus spoke this, education from a rabbi was normally only for certain men, especially those favored in the religious leaders’ eyes. But here Jesus removes that barrier and tells us that everyone – men, women, rich, poor – is to learn everything He commands us. Even today we find ourselves thinking of disciples as people who are more devoted or dedicated than others, or even those involved in special church programs. But Jesus tells us that ALL CHRISTIANS are disciples.
So everyone—EVERYONE who has heard and received the wonderful news of Jesus Christ—is challenged not only to obey everything He commanded, but also to do what He did. He has given us all power and authority to GO. We are to take His commands and promises to others, to baptize them, and to teach them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are to go all the way to the ends of the earth, until all the nations know He is God.
I recently read in the book Your Money Counts how the author, Howard Dayton, realized that the Lord allows someone to teach a subject because they desperately need it themselves. This is absolutely true when it comes to discipleship. When I study Jesus’ commands and the stories about His disciples and their walk with Him, or when I work with others to study His teachings and to disciple them in their spiritual growth, I find myself experiencing dramatic improvement in my own spiritual development and fellowship with the Lord as well. When we follow God’s principles, it draws us closer to Christ.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- So if everyone who has responded to the good news is a disciple, what does that mean? Learn more about what the life of a disciple looks like and how training others is done.
- Study the Gospels. Scripture isn’t just inspiring text. It contains Christ’s commands and the first-hand record of those who received them. The Gospels describe the trials and errors of the disciples as they followed Jesus during His ministry on earth. Don’t just read certain passages, but start at the beginning and read to the end of each book as a timeline.
- Jesus said to make disciples of all nations. We are to take His ministry to every corner of earth, to every tongue and tribe, so everyone can hear the good news. Who is your people group? Who does your heart break for? Where is God telling you to make disciples, teaching people to carry out His commands and to be more like Him? If you don’t already know, pray that God will reveal this to you.
- Finally, follow the first command He gave in His commission, and GO!