"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - VoltairE

4 thoughts about the Great Commission

Posted by Anne Witton on Monday, September 1, 2014 Under: Bible study
At the weekend, I had the privilege of speaking at Kelvin Grove Church in Gateshead. I shared some thoughts about the Great Commission, and thought it might be useful to summarise them here.

Matthew 28 is one of the most exciting chapters in the Bible. The preceding chapters have been an emotional roller coaster - Jesus has had the final meal with his friends, was betrayed by one of his closest followers, was arrested and dragged before the high priest. Then he was disowned by Peter, who had previously said ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will’. Then Jesus was tried, mocked by soldiers and subjected to a humiliating and excruciating death. For his followers, there was confusion and despair, but then comes the extraordinary account of the resurrection when an angel appears to the women at the tomb to tell them that Jesus is risen, and then Jesus himself appears and tells everyone to come to Galilee.

Let’s pick up the story in Matthew 28: 16 - 20:

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Last words are important. From the flippant to the sincere, we tend to take note of the last thing on earth that someone says. Here are a few of my favourites:

Humphrey Bogart ““I should have never switched from Scotch to Martinis.”
Oscar Wilde “Either the wallpaper goes, or I do.”
John Wesley “The best of all is: God is with us.”
Chemist Michael Faraday “I shall be with Christ, and that is enough”

So what can we learn from Jesus’ last words?

  1. The gospel is for everyone, regardless of background, race, socio-economic group. Nation here means ‘ethnic group’ rather than political state. Jesus breaks social barriers and shows that everyone - rich and poor, male and female, Gentile and Jew - is to be made a disciple.

    How does someone become a disciple?
    It can be summarised as

    Win people to the gospel
    Build them up in the gospel
    Send them out with the gospel

    In 2 Tim 2 we see the picture of that process of multiplying disciples: “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others."

    Multiplication is a powerful thing. For example if someone shares a funny cat photo on Facebook with 3 friends and they each share it with 3 friends, and so on, in 10 steps 19,683 people will have seen a funny cat! Let's have the same attitude towards discipleship.

  2. Discipleship is about transformed lives. Everyone who has heard the gospel and responded by putting their trust in Jesus is a disciple and is to be taught to obey Jesus’ commands so that their lives can be transformed. Discipleship isn’t just about acquiring knowledge or going on a training course. It is about obedience to the teaching - allowing Jesus’ commands to shape the way we think and act. You might be able to analyse the Bible and know loads of theology, but it’s no good without a personal relationship with Jesus. It would be like understanding the workings of the internal combustion engine but not being able to drive - it's not going to get you far.

  3. Jesus is with us and empowers us. Jesus equips us with everything we need to do the work he has called us to do and is working in us, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a huge comfort that the Risen Lord Jesus, who has paid the penalty for our sins and beaten death once and for all, is at work in all those who love him and follow him, and has promised to always be with us. I find that a real comfort, especially when the Christian life is hard, or when terrible things are happening in the world and it’s tempting to forget that God’s in control. Mission is God’s work and we need to do it in his strength. Think of about your TV for a second. When it's unplugged, it's useless. It needs a constant source of power to be effective and so do we.

  4. Jesus commissions weak, imperfect people. Remember who Jesus is talking to - Peter who denied Jesus, Thomas who refused to believe until he’d seen physical proof. Even here it says that some of his disciples doubted and yet he gives the commission to them. We don’t have to be perfect, or super-spiritual to do God’s work. We just have to be obedient, knowing that his power is sufficient for us.
We’re all called to do mission in one form or another and I’m privileged to be called into full-time ministry. Helping fulfill the Great Commission is what Agapé is all about!

In : Bible study 


Tags: bible "great commission" mission gospel evangelism discipleship 
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