Teaching and the Great Commission
What comes to your mind when you hear “The Great Commission?” Many think about missions, missionaries, global missions, many think of the word “go.” The Great Commission does not only include these things. It is not just about overseas, global context, and cross cultural contexts. The Great Commission is about every single day and every single aspect of our lives. The Great Commission has direct application to the way that we teach. Every time we teach no matter where, Sunday school class, behind a pulpit, in a class room, at a coffee shop, anytime that we are engaged in an act of teaching whether formal or informal we are fulfilling the Great Commission.
Matthew 28. Jesus has risen from the dead, He has been making some appearances, talking to people, explaining the next steps of what will happen before He ascends into heaven. Matthew 28:16, “Now the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped Him, but some doubted. These are the same disciples that who walked with Jesus, they are the same disciples who saw the miracles Jesus performed, they saw the lame man walk, they saw Lazarus raised from the dead, they spent all of their time with Him. And here they are looking at Jesus, resurrected from the grave, but still some doubted. These are the same men who heard Jesus speak about His death and resurrection time after time, and yet some still doubted. This should stop you in your tracks, but we should also be encouraged by this. We should be encouraged because we all no matter where we are in our walk with God do have moments of doubt. Some feel inadequate in their faith if they have times of doubt, some feel they are somehow “unsaved” if they reach points in their life with doubt. The encouragement should be that we are not alone in those times of doubt, because even the disciples who saw the resurrected Lord had doubts. It is ok to have these feelings of doubt from time to time, we should not think we are bad because we have them. Jesus explains in verse 20 after giving the great commission why we shouldn’t think we are bad for having these doubts, because even through our doubts He says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.”
Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey, to observe everything that I have commanded you. And if you are overwhelmed, it is ok because I am always with you until the end of the age, this is what Jesus is saying.
The foundation of the Great Commission, Jesus says all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Jesus has the authority and it is on that statement that Jesus says therefore or because of this authority given to Me I am giving you this command. The foundation of the Great Commission is the authority of Jesus. The focus of the Great Commission is the command itself: Go and make disciples, and the way to that is by baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Baptism identifies the people with Jesus, Baptism says you identify your life with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You are saying your life is devoted to Jesus Christ and that I am His and I submit to His authority. Teaching them to observe, to obey everything that Jesus commanded.
The fellowship of the Great Commission is that Jesus said, “I am with you always.” In John 14-16 Jesus has this conversation with His disciples, He says to them that He will be leaving them, giving them plenty of forewarning that He would be leaving them, but promises to send them a Helper and Comforter (the Holy Spirit), and just like Jesus He will be “with you.” Everything that He (the Holy Spirit) does will be about reminding them of things that Jesus had said. It is the indwelling Spirit’s ministry in our lives that enables us to keep this command that Jesus gives. He is with us, the fellowship of His great commandment.
How does this apply to our teaching? Jesus does mention teaching specifically here, but it is not about me or you it is all about Jesus. It is not about how much experience or how little experience we have. It is not about what we bring to the table. It is all about Jesus’ authority, His message. We are baptized under His authority identifying with Jesus, teaching His commands, it is His presence that is enabling us to do it, it is ALL about Him, it is NOT about us. We can rest in the authority of Jesus who told us what we need to teach, we must teach simply the things that He taught. If you are not pointing people to Jesus under His authority or His command than you are not obeying Him and it could potentially be sinful. In everything that we teach, in every lesson we teach we must bring it back to Jesus and His commands. This is a great goal to work towards in every aspect of ministry.
Notes from Rlgn 330