When Jesus Christ, God in flesh, enters our world, his life and ministry is still focused on fulfilling God’s heart for the world. Whether taking a longer route to reach a Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42), healing various Gentiles to teach His followers (Mark 5:1-20, 7:24-30) or going to those who had not yet heard his message (Luke 4:42-43), Christ in the New Testament maintained the pattern established in the Old Testament.
Matthew 28:18-20 is referred to as The Great Commission, where Jesus challenges all of his followers to get involved in his redemptive work around the world.
And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.'
The primary command here that Jesus challenges all of us to do is to “make disciples.” We need to be teaching others how to live their lives obeying Jesus commands in a consistent pursuit of him. However, the key phrase in this passage is “of all nations,” meaning Jesus wants us to be a part of making disciples from all nations of the earth.
This verse is a powerful challenge to the life of all believers. However, Matthew 28 is just one of the commissioning verses in scripture. There is a challenging mission’s command of Jesus in every Gospel and in Acts!
…make disciples of all nations…
Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
…repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations…
As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
The disciples lead the New Testament church in being obedient in these commands, many giving their lives for God’s work among the nations. Paul, lived his entire life for God’s kingdom among those who had never heard. In fact, he tells us in Romans 15:20 “…and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation.”
God completes his promises and vision for the nations by showing us His throne room in heaven. Revelation 7:9 says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
One day we will celebrate with our Father in His kingdom because he fulfilled his promise and redeemed people from all over the earth. Yet heaven’s throne room and our world today look very different. There are around 6,900 individual groups of people that have little-to-no believers in their tribe or nation. (Joshua Project) We call these groups unreached people groups. By definition, they are not enough Christians in their population to reach themselves. That is why Christians need to go and take the Gospel to them. They will never come to Jesus and have eternal life unless that happens.
In our next blog post we will look at our part to play in God's plan for the world.