The "Great Commission" as found at the conclusion of Matthew's gospel is one of most frequently quoted passages of the New Testament. The entire story of Matthew's gospel has been pointing us toward this climatic moment when the disciples are sent forth in the authority of Jesus to make more disciples. However, this divine directive to "go" must also be seen as a continuation of the similar directives given in the Old Testament, many of which we have studied as part of this reading series. For example...
Adam and Eve are instructed to be fruitful and to multiply the blessings of God.
Abraham is told to go to a land the Lord will show him.
Moses is told to go to Pharaoh in order to deliver the people of Israel from bondage.
Joshua is exhorted to be strong and courageous as he goes into the promised land.
Isaiah volunteers to be God's messenger - "Here I am, send me!"
Jeremiah is sent to proclaim God's message of judgment and hope.
As you can see, throughout the scriptures we discover time and again that God is a sending God. Jesus is now instructing his followers that they are being send into the world as disciples to make more disciples. We are not simply to do "good works" or to be "good people." We are called to invite others into a life-giving, life-transforming relationship with Jesus. We are called to make disciples, which often requires an investment of time, energy, and personal resources. Too often, we reduce the Christian life to simply "going to church." Jesus never commanded us to "go to church," but rather to "go and make disciples of all nations!"
Finally, a word about authority and presence. Jesus declares that he has received "all authority in heaven and on earth" and then promises to be "with us always, even to the end of the age." The authority and presence of Jesus provide the foundation for our vocation and ministry as disciple-makers. In other words, we are sent forth in the authority of Jesus with his abiding and life-giving presence. This is an amazing promise!
So, today I invite you to hear these words from Jesus in a fresh way. What does it mean for you to be a disciple-maker in your home, your workplace, or your community? Take some time today to thank Jesus for his abiding and life-giving presence with you and then go forth in his authority to make disciples in his name!