18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28 the Great Commission
This is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture, and maybe the most life changing for me.
I grew up going to church with my parents. I remember several churches who strongly emphasized “missions” and who supported international missions and multiple international missionaries. I remember those missionaries speaking on Sunday mornings about their work in far away countries, sometimes wearing tribal clothing and always with a slide show.
Missionaries were “those people.” They were a special group in my mind, called to far away places with exotic cultures and unknown languages. They were a different kind of people with a different kind of “calling.” Theirs was the calling of the Great Commission, I thought, GO to the nations and make disciples!
Then I discovered something.
I was learning Greek and practicing what I was learning by looking at different passages in the original language. I looked at the Great Commission and I saw something that I had never seen or heard before, at least as far as I could remember. I remember my amazement like it was yesterday!
The command of the passage isn’t GO. Go is actually an adverbial participle modifying the actual command of the passage which is MAKE DISCIPLES.
I KNOW, RIGHT!!!??? Exciting stuff! lol
But it is!
GO, as an adverbial participle might better be translated as “GOING,” or “AS YOU GO.”
So it may better read, AS YOU GO, make disciples.
As you go… this I had to check out!
Jesus was talking to his disciples. These were his walking orders if you will. “I am leaving you,” Jesus was saying, “and here is what I want you to do as my disciples. As you go, make more disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded (I’ll get back to this last part!)
When I looked a little closer at the lives of those disciples it became apparent that not all of them WENT. Some would travel to distant places while others traveled to the market and temple and maybe their friend’s home. And wherever they went, near or far, as they went, they made disciples. Christianity grew in Jerusalem and Judea because many of those disciples didn’t go far. Christianity also grew to the uttermost parts of the world because others did.
One more thing stood out to me… teaching them - the new disciples - to “obey everything I have commanded you.” These disciples were to make disciples as they went about life - baptizing them as new believers and teaching them to obey Jesus’ commands - all that he had commanded them.
What had he just commanded them?
His most recent command was, make disciples as you go.
So if the existing disciples were to teach the new disciples to obey all of his commands it would include the command to make disciples as they go about life.
Jesus wasn’t sending a few disciples to the mission fields of far away places.
He was sending ALL disciples to the mission field - some to far away places and some to the mission field right where they were!
What that means is that the Great Commission isn’t just their commission and it isn’t just the commission of those going to distant lands - the Great Commission is YOUR Commission. We, the whole church are a sent people. We are all missionaries, as we go. You, if you are a believer, are a missionary. These are OUR walking orders - as we go about life, we are to make disciples.
Imagine what might change in our neighborhoods and communities and that’s what we were - the whole church - sent missionaries. Think of the changes we might see - changes in our schools, in our government, in our systems of justice…