Matthew 28:11-20: The Great Commission
March 25, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Deuteronomy 33-34, Psalm 71, Matthew 28:11-20, Romans 16
The famous Great Commission is preceded by an explanation for one of the common attempts to explain away the resurrection. “The guards fell asleep.” The guards were paid to tell this story. What kind of blindness—or fear—is it that will bribe someone to hide the truth of a Savior King come to rescue you? Such sinners are we, and so in need of a savior. The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.
When the disciples see Jesus, they worship him—but some doubted (28:17). Even in the midst of worship, doubt can creep in among some. Jesus knows our frailty, and while we doubt, he still speaks, and hearing ears can receive his authoritative commission. If someone doubts at seeing Jesus, their doubts are often removed when they hear Jesus speak his word. The preaching of the gospel has this task, and power, that faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ.
Jesus’ commission is to these disciples in particular, but in them the commission is given to the church in general who carry on their commission, though not one of these eleven disciples are with us now. We too have a commission to reach our neighbors. And the church still has a commission to reach all nations.
First of all, our confidence comes from the revelation of the truth that all authority is Jesus’. As we go about witnessing to Jesus, serving Jesus, we are serving the King. He has the power. And so, with a filial fear of God, we need fear no human aggressor. Do not fear him who has power to kill the body, but rather serve the one who has power over body and soul. The Christian, under the sound of this commission, has an extraordinary confidence to go about kingdom business under the banner of the authority of the King—not with arrogance, but with gentle faithfulness and perseverance and loving boldness.
Therefore, comes the command, “Go.” This does not mean that every Christian must leave their house (we are not one of the eleven disciples). But it does mean that all Christians are a part of a global movement whose vision is to reach all nations. Christians cannot be bound by tribe or even appropriate patriotism; our vision is bigger. Our vision is for the globe, all nations.
Our task is to make disciples—not simply converts, but disciples of King Jesus who are on the road to follow him where he leads. Disciple making is an art and a joy: it requires love, truth, and patience. And the road of a disciple goes ever on until the end when we meet him whom we serve forever in glory.
Having become a disciple, then we are to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is the sign of a disciple. It indicates the new life that has taken place internally, an external death to sin and resurrection to new life, an external washing indicating an internal regeneration, an external declaration of faith before the church indicating an eternal final justification before God.
And it is also a “teaching” commission. The church is a school of baptized disciples who are learning from God’s Word. We are not to hide or be embarrassed or soft pedal parts of what Jesus says, but seek to understand it all, learn it all, grow in our grasp of it, not merely intellectually but also as a disciple in life transformation.
And then comes the final beautiful promise that every disciple of Jesus can forever claim: he is with us, and that always, to the end of the age.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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