The Great Commission - A Personal Instruction
The Great Commission is one of the most significant passages in the Holy Bible. First, it's the last recorded personal instruction given by Jesus to His disciples. Second, it's a special calling from Jesus Christ to all His followers to take specific action while on this earth. The Great Commission is found in the Gospel of Matthew:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Great Commission - Its Significance for Christians
The Great Commission is the end of a Gospel and the beginning of faith in action for all Christians. This command from Jesus is significant because it's a personal instruction for Christians to have a profound faith in Jesus Christ as indicated in verse 18. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." This is an incredibly powerful statement which demands faith in Jesus Christ, validating His power in the lives of Christians and their commitment to Him. This verse acts as a clear claim to Christ's omnipotence, and therefore His deity. If Christians do not believe this statement, complete faith does not exist. Jesus is very clear about His authority in the world -- it is complete and total from the beginning of time itself (John 1:1-3).
In verse 19, Jesus gives His believers specific directions to follow after they have affirmed their faith. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Jesus calls all His followers to act and share the Good News of salvation throughout the world. People hear this calling and travel each year on missionary trips throughout the earth, spreading the word of Jesus Christ. Many Christians have made incredible sacrifices, traveling to remote regions of the world beyond the civilized cities into jungles and deserts. Mission fields can also be very close to home. It could be a neighbor who has not heard the Good News, or a poverty stricken area just down the road where people can't afford Bibles. In the 21st century, the Internet has become a mission field where people can reach out and share Christ's love. The places and people who need to hear the Gospel are everywhere!
Another important aspect of verse 19 is that Christ is specifically teaching the doctrine of the Trinity to His followers. The three Persons of the Godhead are each equally and fully God and here presented in the logical order of Father, Son and Holy Spirit - yet only One God from the beginning (see Romans 1:20).
Finally, in verse 20, Jesus provides specific direction with affirmation to His followers, "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Christians are instructed to teach others about Jesus Christ and the entirety of His truth. We can't profess Christ as Savior and Lord, while rejecting certain of His teachings. As we teach Christ's truths, verse 20 declares that we can be confident, in faith, that Jesus Christ will support us. This fact has proven trustworthy throughout the centuries as millions of believers have heard, accepted and shared the Good News of Jesus Christ. Yes, Christ has ascended back to heaven, but He is present by the power of the Holy Spirit in every believer!
The Great Commission - A Personal Calling
In the Great Commission, Jesus calls every Christian to step out in faith and spread the Good News. This is faith in action! People who obey this command change their spiritual lives forever! It could be spreading the Good News to a neighbor or moving to another country to reach the people there. It could be sharing with less fortunate kids down the street or spreading the Word in a town two hours away. Wherever we go, every faithful Christian is compelled through obedience to share the Gospel. If you're a believer in Jesus Christ, where has He called you to go? Who has God put on your heart to share the gift of salvation? What small or large steps can you take, with the knowledge that Christ will be by your side, "to make disciples of all the nations"?