THE GREAT COMMISSION: MATTHEW 28:18-20 AND ACTS 1:8
The great commission was exemplified by God and by Jesus in the four gospels. How do the great commission passages relate to the lostness of mankind? Does God, the ultimate missionary, still reach out to certain men, people groups or just the children of Israel? Jesus is our example; we must look to the scriptures to see what Jesus did and do what He did.
I would like to start after Jesus’ baptism because this is when He started to go forth and to proclaim – the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit led Him out to the wilderness where He would be tempted by the devil. Jesus used the Word of God to fight off the devil and became victorious. After His time of temptation, He began His ministry in Capernaum (Luke 4:23; John 2:11) and went to His birth town of Nazareth. Jesus’ custom was to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, but this day was going to be a little different. For He stood up and read from Isaiah 61, a prophecy about Himself. After He was done reading, He said that today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. Jesus came to fulfill the scriptures; what a way to start by reading and proclaiming the word of God and His mission.
Jesus proclaimed Isaiah 61 as His mission to:
• Preach the gospel to the poor.
• Heal the brokenhearted.
• Preach deliverance to the captives.
• Restore sight of the blind.
• Set at liberty those who were bruised.
• Preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Jesus was rejected in His home town so He gave them an example of how Elijah was rejected and went to minister to a widow and to Naaman, the Syrian. Both were outside the tribes of Israel which makes me believe that Jesus was already saying, “I have come to tell the good news to my children first and then to all nations.” Jesus exemplified the points in Luke 4:18 and 19 by going out to teach and preach the good news as well as to heal the afflicted in body, soul, and spirit.
Jesus also selected men to disciple, and He associated with them and set them apart. By imparting to them the knowledge of God, He demonstrating the offices of Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King. He then delegated them to go out. Finally through supervision, He reproduced disciples who could go out and accomplish the great commission in Matthew 28.
Jesus selected men from different occupational backgrounds: Simon, later called Peter, his brother – Andrew, and James and John – the sons of Zebedee who were all fishermen, Matthew – a tax collector. Simon, the Canaanite, was a zealot (a political radical who wanted the Messiah to come and restore Israel and free them from their oppressors). The others were not well known, but as we can see, they were not all from one place which means they could reach different people in different places and in different occupations. This would eventually help spread the gospel to all people no matter their economic or occupational statuses.
As Jesus began to set them apart by explaining to them the parables and answering their questions. He was preparing them to teach all things which they observed through Him by His words, His deeds, and by His demonstrations. Jesus delegated first to the twelve and then to the seventy to go “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:6-8 KJV). After He had said unto them “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38 KJV). He had prepared them through association, consecration, impartation, demonstration and now through delegation. He was building up their confidence to go and preach the truth, so they could reproduce other believers.
Jesus continued to supervise and to teach them through the above mentioned ways until the time of His final ascension. Even the process of His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection were demonstration of character, obedience, hope, and deity which we all can learn from. His final commandments to His disciples are seen at the end of the gospels and in Acts chapter one. Here are two of them:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {teach…: or, make disciples, or, Christians of all nations} Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20 KJV)
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. (Acts 1:8 KJV)
After we receive the gospel, we can be tempted. I believe the devil tempts us to see if we really have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. If we falter, we may not be truly saved. The parable of the sower – the four types of ground in which the good seed has fallen on – may portray either our true salvation or the devil who can snatch away our salvation before conversion. This is just like Jesus Who fought off the devil with the Word of God. We must also do so. Jesus proclaimed and did this in His home town, so it would only make since for us to do the same. Start where you are. If we are to go out as Jesus did, I believe we ought to go as Luke 4:18 & 19 describes. As we read and apply God’s word to our lives, we begin to increase our faith and become prepared for God’s good pleasure. God will send us or bring others into our paths to spread the good news and disciple others as He wills even to the ends of the world.
We need to learn the process of selection, association, consecration, impartation, demonstration, delegation, supervision, and reproduction to be an effective witness and disciple of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We need to go from our own home town, to the outer suburbs, to other counties, states, and nations to bring the Gospel to the lost and for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King; and His very elect.
Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8 relate to the lostness of mankind in that we need to learn the truth. Jesus said to teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you and to be witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth. Jesus is telling us to go because we now know the truth and there are lost souls that need to hear the gospel and be discipled. We need to follow His example as He taught His disciples and go and do what Jesus did.
Remember Jesus has called all of us into a ministry especially the ministry of reconciliation as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 KJV)
Go therefore and proclaim the good news and help disciple others in Jesus Name.

In Christ,
Greg

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