Over the last several weeks I have been writing about God being a sending God. Today, I am continuing this theme by discussing the Great Commission passages in the New Testament. Let’s start with Matthew’s Great Commission.
God sent His son, Jesus, on mission to the earth to seek out and to save a people for God. Luke 19:10 states, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” “The Savior’s mission was first to seek out or pursue lost people and then to save them,” writes Aubrey Malphurs. Liefeld states, “The verse itself expresses the heart of Jesus’ ministry.” His Son continues the Old Testament’s mission of God into the New Testament. “There is within the person of Jesus a spirit that reflects accurately the mission Dei, the mission of God.” Jesus taught the disciples they were to take on the mission of God through the commissions of the Bible (Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47-48; John 20:21-23; and Acts 1:8).
The Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) was Jesus’ last words to the disciples as He was about to ascend back to the Father in heaven. This passage is still very important for the follower of Jesus Christ; the commission is the mission Jesus left for His disciples and His church to fulfill. Missiologist David J. Bosch believes “the ‘Great Commission’ at the end of the gospel is to be understood as the key to Matthew’s understanding of the mission and ministry of Jesus.”
The Great Commission mandate, in the book of Matthew, could be the key missionary passage in the Bible. John Harvey says, “Sent by the one who has all authority, who enables them to overcome any obstacle, and who is always present with them, Jesus’ followers are to make disciples of all the nations, disciples who are obedient in carrying out the task entrusted to them.” Jesus’ supreme command, therefore, is for those who are His disciples to become His instruments for making disciples of all nations. Jesus’ own earthly ministry was to make disciples for Himself, and that is the ministry of His people. Jesus encourages those who are listening that He will be with them until the end. He will see the mission to completion. Rick Warren states that this command is “so significant that Jesus repeated it five times, in five different ways, in five different books of the Bible.”