The last command of Jesus
to his 11 hand-picked disciples
was was to go and make (more) disciples.
(See previous post.)
Does this command also apply to Christians today?
For more use the DOOR.
Before we offer an automatic Yes, let’s consider a few things. First, when we consider any significant “lasting” business or social organization, we are faced with two essential objectives they must face: (1) to make, or offer, a needed or essential product or service, and (2) to design a way to perpetuate the group who does the “making, maintaining, and/or serving.”
Christians, of course, believe the Church is much more than that.
Some observations about this command that appears at the end of the Gospel of Matthew.
1. Elements of the Great Commission:
a. “Go” (aimed at at least the 11 chief disciples)
b. “make disciples”
c. “of all nations”
d. “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”
e. “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you”
2. First we’ll assume that this Divine command is an accurately reported piece of history¹.
3. The context: This is resurrected Jesus’ last (reported) command to His followers.
4. The 11 chief disciples (12 minus Judas the betrayer) are the ones clearly in range of Jesus’ voice–at least on the “front row.”
5. “Go” Implies “move” and “reach out.”
6. “Make disciples” means more than just gain converts. It implies transmitting information that matters and can be passed on. It also implies more than evangelism and “one-time encounters.”
7. “Of all nations” implies both near and faraway places–very faraway ones. It further implies establishing self-perpetuating groups.
8. “Baptizing…” means, among other things, a public act of “initiating” a person into a new way of life.
9. “Teaching them to observe all…” In other words, the “whole package” of Christianity as proclaimed by Jesus² which is reaching out to people, getting them to accept God and obey Him, and overseeing new believers in their new lives in groups and as individuals.
10. To do all this is a a pretty big job and will take a long time–certainly involving more than 11 privileged early believers.
11. Jesus’ Christianity, then, appears to be a proactive assignment for all believers, learning about and doing what God wants–in one’s personal life as well as reaching out across the sea or across the street. Jesus’ teaching is loaded with serious stuff. If His declaring out loud The Great Commission really occurred, then this calls serious doers who want to follow God, not just hearers and watchers.
12. Okay, we’ve hit a dozen. Enough. We’re done…for the moment.
¹ The best-selling book in all the world–by far–is of course is controversial to many about the nature of its content, but that’s not the subject here. All we’ll say is that the historical record of Jesus’ words here have been adequately defended for centuries.
² It should be emphasized that what Jesus taught was not just His own words or ideas, but the message of the Old Testament (“The Law and the Prophets”) which He insisted was God-given and important down to the last detail.