Among the notable sayings of Jesus are the Great Commandments and the Great Commission.
Let’s look at the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His Church.
Let’s explore this in Matthew 28:16-20.
Matthew 28:19 Go
In Matthew 28:19 the first verb in the Great Commission is to go. This is not the Great Suggestion, but a commission. It would be easier just to stay at home and not go. It would be more convenient not to make that phone call or be involved in a difficult world, but we are not given that option. Our job is the saving of souls. Every Christian has this same commission, to go, make disciples of all nations, baptize them, and teach them all that we have learned from Christ. These four specific verbs to go, make, baptize and teach are the responsibility of every Christian, not just pastors.
Matthew 28:19 Make
In Matthew 28:19 the disciples were told to “make.” Christianity is not an insular religion, but one of action and we are commissioned to “make disciples of all nations.” Disciples are pupils, scholars, trained, instructed. The word nations means more than national boundaries alone would imply. It includes the idea of different races and peoples of different customs. By use of the word all, it means that nobody is left out. We may not have opportunity to personally cross cultural lines with the Gospel, but we can pray for those who do. In a world that needs the Gospel, God challenges us to a level of thought beyond worldly nationalism.
Matthew 28:19 Baptize Who
In Matthew 28:19 we learn that Jesus expected His disciples to make disciples and be “baptizing them.” Discipleship includes baptism. Baptism does not finish instruction. It begins it. On three separate occasions in the New Testament whole households were baptized (1 Corinthians 1:16; Acts 11:13-14; Acts 16:15, 31, 33). Logic would dictate that at least one of those households contained children. As a child was circumcised in the Old Testament so may they be baptized in the New Testament (Colossians 2:11-12). As entire families of ancient Israel were baptized into Moses in the Red Sea, so children may be baptized today (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).
Matthew 28:19 Baptize How
Does baptism mean only immersion? In the Bible it can mean wash (Mark 7:4; Luke 11:38; Acts 22:16), Israel passing through the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-4), and Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion (Mark 10:38). When Jesus and the Ethiopian eunuch were baptized, they came up out of, or up away from the water. That could be ankle-deep water and coming up a bank. This does not prove immersion (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10 & Acts 8:38-39). Was the baptism of fire pictured in tongues of fire on the head (Acts 2)? The mode is not as important as the act of baptism (Acts 2:38).
Matthew 28:19 The Trinity in 60 Seconds
God is one. Matthew 28:19 says that Father, Son and Holy Spirit have one “name.” Jesus prayed to the Father. God is not three Gods but one, indivisible and yet three persons. Jesus calls God’s angels His, judges the world, is the resurrection, the life, is the Word which was God, and is Lord meaning God in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit is a person. He makes decisions, teaches, guides, makes the things of Jesus known, convicts the world of sin, can be grieved, blasphemed, possesses a rational mind, can be lied to, resisted and we can have fellowship with Him. God is three and one — a mystery.
Matthew 28:20 Teach What
In Matthew 28:20 Jesus gave His disciples the educational curriculum that He expected them to teach. True Christians have always followed this advice down through the ages. Jesus said they should be, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” Some try to extend this to the Old Testament and church traditions. Those things have some relevance, but the main thing is the main thing. Jesus specifically said that I have taught YOU. All healthy mainstream churches preach the whole Bible, but their focus is on the Gospels, where most of Jesus’ teachings are located. Healthy preaching covers the Bible and includes a Gospel lesson every week.
Matthew 28:20 What Unites Christians
Is there common ground that unites all Christians worldwide? The logia, the sayings of Christ are the thing upon which Christians agree. Christians are divided over many lesser issues, doctrines and human traditions. Yet, Jesus commanded that his disciples teach what? He charged them with teaching what he taught them. That is what unites us. Whether we are Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, we believe in what Christ taught. So, Jesus seems to be teaching us a priority in the Bible, the words He taught those disciples. When we focus on what Jesus taught, other issues seem to fade into the background. We actually find common ground that wonderfully unites us all.
There are four verbs in this passage: to go, make, baptize and teach. This is a commission given to every Christian. It overrides all our traditions, all our reasoning around it and all our experiences which contradict it. If we want our church to grow, we will be about our Father’s business. We don’t do it alone. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is with us forever.
Matthew 28:16-20; 1 Corinthians 1:16; Acts 11:13-14; Acts 16:15, 31, 33; Colossians 2:11-12; Mark 7:4; Luke 11:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10 & Acts 8:38-39; Acts 2; Acts 2:38