The Great Commission

Posted: March 13, 2013 by Dillon in Lifestyle
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20

Known as the Great Commission, this is an often quoted, but rarely applied, command of Jesus.  After He had been resurrected, Jesus appeared to His disciples and gave this final command.  We’ve already touched on what it means to make a disciple, but this passage is a call to something much more.  We’re not talking about simple evangelism, though evangelism does play a big role.
Make Disciples: The first instruction is to make disciples of all nations.  We can’t really understand this until we take a look at the original Greek term, “ethne.”¹  Ethne translates to “ethnic people groups,” and is where we get the English word “ethnic.”²  Here’s a very important lesson: in the context of the disciples, political boundaries and “nations” were obscure and not as literally determined as they are today.  By Jesus using the term “ethne” He is saying to reach all groups of people.   If this is confusing, consider the Balkans.   
 Etnic map of the Balkans
The Balkan region is, in my undergraduate-history-student-opinion, possibly the most ethnically diverse collection of people confined in a small region.  As the map shows, there is an incredible amount of ethnic diversity that is not subject to political boundaries.  Jesus’ command was all ethnic groups, not political nations. 
Baptizing Them: Baptism is used symbolically by a disciple as an outward profession of their faith, and as a celebration to officially welcome them into the Christian body.  I believe there is also an implicit statement being made; Jesus specifically says to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  To me, this is a sign that Jesus has knowledge of future groups that will reject the Trinity, but still claim to be followers of Christ.  Jesus seems to be saying that baptism of the trinity is the only acceptable form.  Of course, it needs to be remembered that physical baptism is only a symbol, and not a necessary work of becoming a Christian.
Teach Them:  It doesn’t end with evangelism!  Once you have a new Christian, the worst thing you can do is leave the young believer to figure things out for themselves!  I know from personal experience that a lack of a knowledgable mentor causes a lot of spiritual strife and struggle.  Jesus included the command to teach each other (this relates to any believer, not only to teaching new believers).  Christians are responsible to help each other grow and continually learn and apply the teachings of Christ; if we don’t do that, we’re not Christians. 
The take away from the Great Commission is finishing what Jesus began;  Jesus came to Earth where He made disciples, instructed them, and preached of God to thousands of people.  God’s will is that every one would know Him (1 Tim 2:4), and He gave us a part in working towards that goal.  And to avoid confusion, the Great Commission doesn’t require you to travel to foreign lands.  You can do your part right where you are!  What are you waiting for?  Spread the good news!
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