One of the most well-known passages in Scripture is also a text that invokes a blend of longing mixed with conviction. Jesus’ soul-stirring-words at the close of Matthew’s gospel simultaneously causes our hearts to scream, “Yes” while our minds manufacture a stream of objections.
“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.” (Matthew 28:19–20a ESV)
As Christians, making disciples is something we want to do but too often don’t. Consequently, we can find ourselves carrying this nagging sense of failure over our lack of disciple making, but this is not where we were meant to live. The catalyst to making the Great Commission our life’s actual mission flows both from the posture of our prayers and the direction of God’s presence.
The Importance of the Word “Go.”
The human propensity is to insulate and isolate ourselves with people just like us to the point that it becomes more and more difficult to do what Jesus has command us to do. This is why “Go” in verse 19 is an imperative. A tiny word with massive implications. It not only compels us to leave the comfort and safety of our disciple saturated social circles, but it also compels us to pray differently.
In surveying (albeit informally) the bulk of my evangelistic prayers, I have found that the ratio tends to favor prayers about God saving, and God bringing people to me. Neither is bad, but what I found all too scarce were prayers reflecting Jesus’ imperatives. My prayers don’t line up with Jesus’ call to action or His teaching about evangelistically driven prayer earlier in Matthew’s gospel.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37–38, ESV)
So many Christians (myself included) are almost exclusively praying prayers in contrast to the explicit direction of the “Great Commission” (i.e.- “Lord send people my way”). The prayer that most naturally flows out of Matthew 28:19 is: “Lord, where do you want me to go?”
It seems that Jesus is calling us to reshape our prayers in a way that focuses less on God to bring them, and more on God sending us.
Jesus Gets It
Part of what makes these verses at the end of Matthew 28 so beautiful is what they tell us about Jesus. They clue us into the reality that He is well aware of the difficulties attached to this assignment.
It is clear that Jesus understands that making disciples requires a massive amount of confidence in the truth that we are not alone. The final few words of Matthew’s Gospel are not just pretty or poetic; they are the lifeblood of the mission that we have been entrusted with.
Jesus said, “And behold” (or you could say “And don’t miss this”) “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” That sounds comforting, and it is. Jesus is with me. However, these words are intended to provoke more than comfort. Jesus is on mission, and it’s impossible to continually experience Jesus’ nearness without embracing His mission. To grasp that the crucified and risen Lord of heaven and earth is with you is to understand that his presence is prodding you to invest yourself in the Great Commission wholeheartedly.
We go because we must. Going is essential. It is the mission you were created to fulfill.
Blog by David Lindell