Gospel Quest 5: Christ’ Commission
Text: Matthew 28:16-20
Introduction: The Great Commission given by Jesus to His church one the strongest reasons, in spite of horrific and non-stop persecution, it has flourished for 1000’s of years. It actually is not the first commission for the church, but it is the “great one" the one that supersedes all the others.
There are actually two other commissions given to the followers of Christ. The first is the Commission to the Lost Sheep of Israel in Matthew 10:6 and the second is the commission of the seventy in Luke 10: 1-12. These commissions were replaced by the Great Commission given just before Christ ascended to heaven. It is the Magna Carta, and the Declaration of Independence for the church Jesus left behind. It is the reason we are here and if followed the reason we will still be here when he comes back.
The commission is powerful first because it was given us by Christ and second because is promises success to those who keep it. It is four simple commands filled with promise. Look with me at them now.
Commission Power - Matthew 28:16-18
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
In the passage Jesus approaches his disciple on a mountainside, as he had done many other times before his resurrection. This particular appointment is recorded in Matthew 26:32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
We don’t know the exact mountain and Matthew didn’t think it was necessary to record its location. As Jesus met them the fell on their knees and they worshiped Him. All that he had promised was proven true and they fully understood they were with the Jesus the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. What else could they do but fall on their knees and worship.
And yet the Bible records some doubted. It could be that there were more than just the 11 disciple on the mountain that day. Some see this appearance of Jesus as the one refers to by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:6 where over 500 saw him at once. Others look at the doubting as referring not to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection but to the timing for the rest of promises of the new covenant. Yes he was alive but the Messiah was to establish his kingdom and pour out his spirit on Israel.
The reason for the doubt is not important but what the fact that is was still there in some form. Even after all that had taken place, even in their strengthened faith there was still lurking doubt.
Jesus perhaps sensing this doubt tell them, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” That is a statement that only God could make, that is a statement that should drive any of their lurking fears and doubts out of those dark corners of their hearts and souls. Jesus, their master and lord has all the power of heaven and earth. It is His by right of his identiy, and by reward from His Father for what He has done in redeeming mankind.
Daniel may have seen a glimpse of this power in Daniel 7:13-14 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Our Authority Hasn’t Changed
In many passages of scripture, you must first interpret the passage and then make an application that is true to that passage for us as Christians today. And then there are NT passages like this, in which the interpretation is the same as the application.
When Jesus spoke to these disciples on a mountain in Galilee, He was and is also speaking to us today in Athens, Texas. This wasn’t their commission that we can draw an application from, this was and is our commission that we are to follow and live.
The same sense of worship, the same acknowledging of out doubts, the same promise of our Saviour omnipotence should still be heard in our ears today as we read as sounded in their ears that day.
Be honest we have our doubts, especially when it comes to us winning souls. Sometimes the doubts are even deeper and sometimes they creep in even when we are worshipping Him in His house. Doubts will not cease to exist but what drives them away is the declaration of Jesus then and now, I have all power and I am commissioning you, sending you, overshadowing you in that power.
Commission Life – Matthew 28:19
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Jesus’ Life Principle
The first command of the great commission is not actually a command, the word go here is a participle, not an imperative. What Jesus was telling to us was that as you are going, carry out this commission. As you are living, as you are working, as you are traveling, as you are living out your life day by day, then make this a part of your everyday life.
The commission was meant to be such and integral part of living that the disciples would never think of it as something separate from the activities they would do on any given day. As they lived, as they were going in their life and wherever they were going, they were to teach about Jesus.
Mark recorded it this way in Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Luke recorded it this way when Jesus repeated the commission as his last words before He ascended back to heaven, Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
The Command That is Our Life
If we are disciples, if we are saved, if we are children of God, then living your life means carrying out the commission. It is not compartmentalized or left to others it is your task, you calling, your life because you believe and that faith must be lived.
Illustration: Baptist boy witnessing to a Catholic Girl. “The way he acts I think, he thinks, it is his business.”
Just like that boy in the story, it is your business, God had made it your business because it is your life. We must go to our family, friends, associates, school mates and even your enemies with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Not only is it our life as individuals but it is our life as a church body. We must never forget that our life as a church is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We must take the gospel where it needs to be heard, at home and around the world, in our community and around the world through missions.
When it comes to outreach and living the Gospel as a church, we need to do more. As your pastor I know we need to do more. The Lord has promised, if you go forth bearing precious seed you’ll doubtless come again bringing your sheaves with you. That is just as true as what Jesus said to his disciple on that mountain in Galilee. I need to drive out the doubts and act on the promise.
In missions we need to do more. We need to add missionaries, we need to fund missions trips, we need to give to more missions emergencies than we have in the past. We need to go to places like Mexico, Central America, South America, Germany and even really exotic places like Oklahoma. Go as the Lord’s body, because that is how we live, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Transition: After Jesus says go and in going live my commission, he then tells us exactly what that means.
Now we come to that actual commands of Christ. There are 3, Teach all Nations, Baptize and Teach all things.
First Jesus says, “Teach all nations.”
The word for teach in the Greek language is the word matheteuo (math-ayt-yoo’-o) it means to make disciples. Jesus sent his disciples with the Gospel not just to gather professions of faith but to make disciples, followers of Himself.
In keeping the great Commission we must understand that our task is not just to get people to say a prayer of faith, not even to get a profession, even a genuine profession of faith, but to bring people to a place of commitment to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our task is not just to tell them about Jesus but to bring them to Jesus and see that they become his disciples, his followers.
We are not called to sugar coat the Christian life. We are not commissioned to entice people into church. We are commanded by Christ to make disciples. It is a long, no shortcut process. It is a process built upon relationship and not salesmanship.
This is what Jesus said about discipleship.
Luke 14:26-27 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Luke 9: 57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
We must ourselves be committed as disciples of Jesus Christ. And we must bring others through a personal relationship to that same commitment.
Baptize, The next command is to baptize them.
Jesus then commands that we take those disciples, those who have made a commitment of faith and their life, and then we baptize them. That is not the way we always do it, but that is the way Jesus commanded us to do it.
Now, I know I don’t have to tell you what baptism is, but since I’m preaching I’m going to anyway. Baptism is the portrayal of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is the public confession of a believer and the first step of a disciple, showing his commitment.
The Greek word means to dip or immerse and no other action fits the picture of Jesus’ life and death other than immersion. When a church changes baptism to make it simpler or easier then they also are changing the gospel, of which it is a picture. When they change baptism they cheapen the death of Christ and deny His resurrection and they ignore the Great Commission. They cannot change this and still call themselves a church.
Baptism as it was given to the church by the Lord is essential to the Gospel and to the life of the church.
It is essential because it is a confession and symbol of Jesus Christ Romans 6:3-5 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
It is essential because it is the means by which the church perpetuates itself. People are brought into the church not at salvation but at Baptism. Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Baptism came first by the authority of the church and then they were counted as members.
The first command of the commission brings people to a true commitment to Jesus Christ, the second command of baptism brings them to a commitment to the church of Jesus Christ.
Illustration: New Pastor baptizes in jury rigged baptismal and almost quits.
Teach: The final command Christ Gives is to teach.
This word is the word didasko (did-as’-ko) it means to teach especially through dialogue and discourse.
It is not really preaching but an open forum and discussion of doctrine, truth and life itself. Jesus taught this way by the seashore, in synagogues, in homes or on hillsides. Everywhere he went he taught people. His life was devoted to telling people about Himself, his Father in Heaven and the salvation that was offered to them.
We need to take time to teach others about Jesus, our Lord and Savior. We need to teach in the way Jesus taught and teach the things he taught.
If we find an outcast woman at the well teach her someone loves here.
If we find a cheating business man like Zacheus, teach him that God is looking for him.
If we find a tender heart like Mary willing to sit at Jesus feet then then teach great things and teach until you can’t teach anymore.
If you find a bunch of kids gathered round you, then teach them that God wants to make them his own little children.
Teach your family, your grandkids, your friends and your neighbors. Teach them with your words, teach them with your actions and teach them with your life. Teach even when you think no one is learning because in truth someone always is. Teach, for Jesus commanded his people and his church to teach.
Transition:The commands are finished but there is still one thing left and it is just as important as the commands of the commission, it is the promise of the commission
Commission Promise - Matthew 28:20
…lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Jesus began the commission with a declaration of his power, and in that power he had the authority to send His church throughout all the world, preaching the gospel, making disciples and baptizing them into the church and into a life time commitment to Him. But he ends the commission not with another declaration of his power to send us but of a declaration of his love to be with us.
He calls special attention to this last statement, but say, “lo.” It is the short form of the Greek word idou and it means “behold, stop pay attention, listen and look at what I’m saying.” When Jesus uses it here he means for the disciple to notice something special and important was about to be said.
That special thing was this promise, “I am with you alway” It is again a statement that no ordinary man could make, it is a declaration of his deity. Just as He claimed omnipotence, he now claims omnipresence. He will be with His own always. So one final, quick word study, this is the word pas in the Greek. A small three letter word, but what a meaning it has in God’s word.
It means all, all things, all manner, all men, every man, everyone, everything and anything. It is translated whosoever and whatsoever, all way and always. In this context it means that wherever we go, whoever we meet, whatever situation we find that Jesus is has promised to be with every one of us along all ways, for all time, always.
Standing On the Promise
Looking back it is hard for us to understand how any of the disicples could have had doubts that day in Galilee. That had seen Jesus crucified and then risen from the grave. How could they doubt anything about him now?
And yet, I excuse my own doubts about the task Jesus has left me. Going to all the word? Making disciples? Teaching them all things? I don’t think I can really do that? I’m not sure my church can carry out all of that? Our doubts are just as damning today as theirs were then. If they had not overcome their doubts than you and I would not be here today and if you and I don’t overcome our doubts our church and the next generation of believers won’t be here tomorrow.
Overcome your doubts this morning by the power of Jesus Christ and especially by the presence of Jesus Christ. He has declared his power to send us, we have the authority to go anywhere in all this world because it is His world and He has the right to cross any border and ignore any law in bring the Gospel to the lost. He has promised his presence, to lead, guide, comfort, cheer and protect us. We do not go alone, we do not talk to others in isolation. Jesus stands with us, His Holy Spirit encourages us and even gives us the words to say. Go in his power and take a stand in his presence. He will not fail nor forsake you.
2019 is ending, it has been a great year filled with God’s blessing and fulfilled promises to us as His children and church. I would pray to see more in 2020. More witnessing, more salvations, more baptisms, more additions, more missionaries, more of the power and presence of Jesus Christ.
Would you make a commitment to the commission this morning? Will you say with me that you will strive to share God’s love to someone in the coming year? Will you in spite of your doubts ask the Lord to lead you to a lost soul and then give you the words to say and the love to reach out? I’m not asking you to walk up here and sign a pledge card, I’m asking you to do something even more binding. Make that commitment this morning between you and God and then depend on him to use you in carrying out our Great Commission.