Last week, we began observing the words of our Savior as found in Matthew 28:18-20. As some of Jesus’ final words before leaving this earth, He told all followers to carry out His will by bringing others to Him.
“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.”
Last week, we noticed Jesus’ authority over heaven and earth and our responsibility to give our lives to Him in full submission. This morning, we will turn our attention to the most familiar portion of Jesus’ statement: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
Go with a purpose. Some have proposed in the past that the verb that is translated “Go” in this verse could just as easily mean “as you are going.” While that could be a possibility, it is unlikely that is what Jesus specifically meant to that audience. The verb used there is actually a type of participle that is predominantly used by Matthew that—for lack of an easier way to explain it—gets it’s “mood” from the following verb to which it is attached. “Make disciples” is in the imperative, therefore “go” is imperative as well. Jesus specifically commands us to go with the purpose of making disciples of His will. This idea also makes the most sense when you consider His original audience. If He told Jewish Christians to convert people “as they are going,” how long would it have taken before they branched out to reach Gentiles? He makes His mission clear from the beginning: the gospel of His resurrection is for all nations, therefore we should “go” into them to teach Jesus.
Today, we must be going—whether to places far away or down the road—with the purpose to leading souls to Christ.
Going and making disciples is a process. Although Jesus is firm regarding His mission of teaching the lost, He understands the hearts of men. He knows it is difficult to touch everyone with the good news of salvation. When He was in the beginning of His earthly ministry, He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven” (Matt. 5:16). This statement gives us a rallying cry for our everyday actions: no matter what you’re doing, let your light shine. Notice the desired response of those around us: “that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus understands you might not baptize everyone you come in contact with, but He tells us everyone should see our good works enough to know to Whom we belong. Although evangelism can be discouraging, we need to remember that relationships, trust, patience, dedication, and prayer are all important to bringing souls to Christ. These things often are built up over time. Evangelism should be urgent to us, but not to a fault of being scared and unsuccessful.
Go in the present. As Jesus was leaving the earth, He gave these hallowed words to His followers. From that moment forward, this was their mission statement. There should have been no confusion over who needed to know about Jesus’ life: all nations. There should have been no question about what to do: create disciples through baptism and teaching. There should have been no fear: Jesus would be with them. When the imperative is used, it is used to show command and force. The time during which it is to be carried out refers back to verse 18 (because of the “therefore”). Because Jesus now has all authority in heaven and earth, we must go now! They were to go then; we are to go now. Although going for the purpose of teaching others can be difficult, we will be doing His will if we do something for Him.
May God bless us all as we “go” and bring others to Him—even this week.