The Great Commission to Believers

Welcome. If you’ve never read or heard about Jesus’ Great Commission to humanity, you might well be pondering or questioning your reason for being here on Earth.

Alongside believing in the glory of God and the good news of Jesus Christ the Messiah, all Christians have been commissioned or charged to tell others about Him. This is known as the Great Commission given to the first disciples in Matthew 28:16-20, shortly after Jesus’ resurrection.

13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Revelation 3:13

The Great Commission

(the Responsibility of All Believers)

Matthew 28:16-20

16 And the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mount where Jesus appointed them,

17 and having seen him, they bowed to him, but some did waver.

18 And having come near, Jesus spoke to them, saying, `Given to me was all authority in heaven and on earth;

19 having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptising them — to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,

20 teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days — till the full end of the age.’

Matthew 28:16-20

Okay, the first thing I’ve noticed in Matthew 28 verse 16 is that only eleven disciples were present on the mountain… aren’t there supposed to be twelve?

The answer, of course, is “Yes”. However, when we look back to the previous chapter, we see that:

3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Matthew 27:3-4
48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him.” Matthew 26:48-49

We’re told in both Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18 that after receiving his thirty pieces of silver from the chiefpriests for his betrayal of Jesus (a man of innocent blood), Judas Iscariot was greatly ashamed and killed himself.

In Jesus’ day, thirty pieces of silver were the equivalent of about 120 days salary. We see back in Exodus 21:32 that this was the compensation owed if someone’s bull kills another person’s slave. So the Pharisees were clearly sending a message to the first believers of the New Covenant.

Jesus had no problem bearing such an insult. We see in Mark 14:36 and Luke 22:42 that Jesus knew His Father’s plans and his role of service and sacrifice for humanity.

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:6-8

As a physician, Luke’s additional information regarding the death of Judas illustrates that after a body has been hanging for some time, it’ll soften and get bloated. This process is known as secondary flaccidity.

18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.

Acts 1:18

Judas hanged himself on a tree in the Valley of Hinnom. When you look at a picture of this place, you’ll see no trees planted on a soft, grassy hill or meadow. The rope or branch must’ve broken after hanging and swinging for some time, allowing his soft and bloated body to fall and smash apart on jagged rocks in the valley below. Some of these rocks rise six or so meters high.

I could say that this manner of death was suitable recompense for his crimes, yet Judas’ betrayal was still part of God’s plan.

The suicide of Judas Iscariot in the Valley of Hinnom (an artist’s portrayal)

Anyhow, my apologies for going a little off-track.

In Matthew 28:16, we’re told that:

16 …the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mount where Jesus appointed them,

Matthew 28:16

This was either:

The likelihood of Mt Hermon is strengthened by King David in Psalm 133:

3It is as if the dew of Hermon

were falling on Mount Zion.

For there the Lord bestows his blessing,

even life forevermore.

Psalm 133:3

In addition, this was probably the location Jesus appeared to five hundred or so brethren at once following his resurrection (see 1st  Corinthians 15:6).

You might’ve noticed that I’m using Young’s Literal Translation for this exegesis of the Great Commission rather than my usual NIV, NASB or KJV. Why? Well, I’m not real thrilled with all the latter interpretations of “go”.

You see, in the original Greek text, “having gone” was not used in the imperative sense of the verb “go”. By this, I mean that Jesus wasn’t instructing all believers to quit their jobs, studies or whatever, join a mission group and partake in intentional long or short term discipleship ventures across the globe. He does, however, expect us all to disciple those within our circles and channels of influence.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:14
Missionary Portal – Have We Failed The Great Commission?

19 having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptising them — to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:19

You see, if all of the ~2.38 billion Christian believers across the globe (roughly 30% of humanity) obeyed this commission, the remaining 5.536 billion (~3.1 billion of whom are in unreached people groups) would hear the good news.

The unfortunate reality is that we, as a Christian body, have enough money in which to train and send missionaries to every unreached people group in the world.

“And when we accomplish this task, then He will return!  

Global Frontier Missions

Unfortunately, not enough people are giving, and not enough people are going.

. Here’s something we ought to ask ourselves:

8 ‘Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

‘But you ask, “How are we robbing you?”

‘In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – your whole nation – because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 3:8-11
Jesus as a twelve-year-old boy among the teachers in the temple court. See Luke 2:42-47

Given to me was all authority in heaven and on earth…

Matthew 28:18

Even as a child, Jesus had been given authority over all the people of the Earth. Following the resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15), God the Father extended His Son’s power far beyond the trivial earthly things that’d previously been offered to him by Satan:

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. 9 ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’

10 Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”’

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Matthew 4:8-11

This was quite an offer, one that many today would readily accept. The reason that Jesus could immediately reject it was apparent:

30 I and the Father are one.

John 10:30

45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.

John 12:45

Finally, let’s take the time to reread 28:20:

20 teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days — till the full end of the age.

Matthew 28:20

What word stands out to you?

For me, it was the determiner all“. In English, “all” has multiple uses. It can be an adjective, an adverb, a pronoun, or a noun. The Great Commission effectively makes “all” Christian believers accountable gatekeepers to the kingdom of heaven.

In Biblical days, gatekeep­ers were appointed to control who came and left a city. In the same way, God appoints gatekeepers to stem evil, promote good, and be a blessing to others.

What I mean by this is that no one can know of the grace of God seen through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ unless they’re told by members of Jesus’ body, his church. Hence we’ve received Jesus’ command to go out and “disciple all the nations”.

Out of curiosity, I googled the question “Why was I created?” and received about 10,700,000,000 (ten billion, seven hundred million) results in a mere 0.52 seconds. The first result is from the question and answer website, Quora, and one of the respondents tells us that this is “a question no one has an answer to.”

Hmmm? Really?

Jesus Christ and the forty authors of the Bible would disagree.

14 …this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:14

We were each created to believe, love, glorify, and tell others about our Triune God. Jesus won’t be returning (the Second Coming) until everyone has heard and had the opportunity to make a choice regarding the good news and truth of Jesus Christ and the New Covenant.

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