If you were to ask the people in your church, how many of them would be able to tell you what the Great Commission is? Not where you find it in the Bible, or what the verse is, but the actual meaning and importance of it? We tend to forget to teach that part. The Great Commission is more than a verse in the Bible; it is the church’s job, our job, to help people understand what it is and what it means.
What Is It?
What Does It Mean?
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,” Matthew 28:19-20, the famous Great Commission. But what does it mean?
To get a good understanding of what the Great Commission means it is best to break it down into 5 parts.
1. “Therefore, go”
We are called to go, to get up and do something! But it means more than to get up and go somewhere. It means to leave your comfort zone. God doesn’t expect everyone to do the actual going, He doesn’t call everyone to do that. Sometimes God calls us to be the ones that support the actual goers. This may require us to get out of our comfort zone by praying for someone or supporting them financially. Even Paul in Romans 15:23-33 asks for material and prayer support, and he was known as one of the great missionaries.
2. “And make disciples of all nations”
This part ties in with the first. We are to Go and make disciples of all nations. This is the section that is the direct command of the commission. We are to make disciples of all nations, and the rest are the means to this commandment; go, baptize and teach. We also need to focus on the last part of this sentence, “of all nations’. This is so important! The Great Commission isn't only about local evangelism; it focuses on all nations! We can’t stay home in our own little community and think that that is enough! We need to cross borders and reach every nation around the world!
3. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
This is one of the means to obeying the ultimate command of making disciples. We must baptize new believers. Jesus said in John 3:5-7 that no one can come to know God and enter His kingdom unless they are born again of water and of the Spirit. To be born again is to leave your old life behind and give up yourself and all that you had to follow Jesus. To follow Jesus! To follow Jesus, is to be a disciple, so through baptism we are creating disciples.
Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
4. “And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”
Another means to obeying the ultimate command of making disciples is teaching. Jesus tells us to teach the nations EVERYTHING he has commanded us. Not certain aspects or the good or easy things but everything he has commanded. And not to just teach the command but teach to OBEY the command. It is important to see this difference. To be a disciple of Christ we must obey his commands and not just know them. If we don’t teach the nations to know AND obey Jesus’ commandments we are failing at making true disciples. As Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). We can’t be Jesus’ disciples if we don’t love him, and if we love him we need to obey his commands.
5. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”
This is the ending of the Great Commission. It ends off with Jesus reminding us that he is always with us. We can take comfort in this knowing that when we are going, baptizing and teaching we aren’t doing it on our own strength, but with the power of Jesus. “To the very end of the age”, means to the end of time, and the end of time comes when Jesus returns. So this commandment is a commandment that continues for all old and new followers. It wasn't given only for the 12. It needs to be obeyed until Jesus comes back to earth.
We need to do a better job at teaching others about the Great Commission. We can’t pass it off as just another verse to be memorized. We need to explain the meaning of it, what it means for us to actually do what is commanded of us and why we must do it. We need to leave our comfort zones and go. We need to cross borders to all nations. We need to baptize new believers and teach them to know and obey Jesus’s commandments. And we need to realize that this commandment didn’t stop existing when the 12 died. It continues today, and will continue until Jesus returns. We can’t let it end with our generation, we need to teach the importance of it to each generation to come. So what steps will you take to obey this Great Commission?
If you love me, keep my commands."