There is much debate today regarding who Jesus gave the Great Commission to that is found in Matthew 28. The discussion in my tribe circles whether Jesus gave the mission mandate only to the twelve apostles (the clergy) or was it given to the larger group of disciples (everyone). While this might be a fun subject to debate, I don’t have the time nor the stomach to take that fight on. It would not achieve my goal of this message is to encourage and inspire disciples on their journey of faith.
One of the main challenges you face when you take on a topic like this is people have diverse understandings of the word “mission.” To address this, allow me to make sure we are at least talking the same language and define the key terms.
The word “mission” means “sending.”
The term “missionary” is “one sent.”
Those tasked with the getting the gospel message out are called “missionaries” they are the “sent ones” of the Lord, ambassadors of Christ.
Having laid out the foundation and language moving forward let’s dig into the heart of discussion on missions.
Key Truth Number One: The Mission Is Important, and we have the full weight of power Christ behind the mission.
As we begin this discussion, we will focus on two of the Great Commission passages.
“Therefore, go 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 obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” Matthew 28
He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever doesn’t believe will be condemned.” Mark 16
You can see the words are different, but the meaning is the same. Here is a recap of Jesus’ missionary command:
“I the Lord, Jesus Christ, who has been given all authority in heaven and on Earth, command you, my devoted disciples in every age to go to the ends of the earth, to teach all people of every tribe and nation my gospel. Make all people my disciples who will produce other disciples to expand my kingdom to the ends of the earth.”
Key Truth Number Two: The mission strategy is straightforward and urgent.
Jesus first gave us the missionary command, and he also gave us the mission strategy.
- He said pay no attention to national boundaries.
“Go into all the world” translates as go wherever people live, breath, move and have their being. Find them. Join them on their life’s journey as they go about their daily lives.
2. Have a sense of urgency that Mark 16 expresses.
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever doesn’t believe will be condemned.”
What a bold, majestic command of our Lord and Savior. No one else would dare make such a decree. Not only does Jesus command we “go out” this same Jesus backs up that order with all the authority of heaven and seals it with the promise of salvation in His precious blood shed on Calvary’s cross and verified with the empty tomb.
As this King Jesus, who has all authority and power, is about to take his rightful place on the throne of heaven. Jesus sends out ambassadors to the ends of the earth to proclaim to all the peoples of the land that this final King of the Jews. He is calling all the people of the land home under His kingship for all eternity. Our mission manifesto is that we go forth with the promise of Jesus’ presence and the backing of his almighty power. All the authority of heaven and earth supports this mission manifesto.
Key Truth Number Three: We have the necessary tools to accomplish the task.
When any king sends his troops into battle, he takes careful, attention to make sure those troops are properly trained and empowered to accomplish the mission he is sending them to perform. Our King Jesus sends his troops out with only one weapon to win the world for His kingdom, “the Gospel.” The mission mandate is clear, “Preach the Gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15
Baptize all the nations, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” Mark 16:16. The preaching of the Gospel includes baptism. Baptism is also the Gospel. It is the “visible Word.” King Jesus equips the troops for mission armed with His message of salvation; the Gospel converts the enemy, and the recruit seals that promise of eternal life with the waters of baptism. Baptism seals the promise and the certainty of God’s grace and salvation. What an excellent weapon to take into battle with Satan and his army.
Key Truth Number Four: The goal of the mission is clear.
When the Apostle Paul addressed King Agrippa, he describes how Jesus personally recruited him for the mission work. In Acts 26:16-18, “Get up! Stand on your feet! I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you as my servant and witness of what you have seen and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your people and the Gentiles. I am sending you to open their eyes. Then they can turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, and receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are made holy by faith in me.’”
What Paul discovered in a personal way through his encounter with the Resurrected King Jesus Christ was the Gospel alone is the means by which humanity is rescued. Jesus sets us free from the hands of Satan. Humanity receives a release from the chains of sin through forgiveness of sin won from us through the King’s offering of his life on Calvary’s cross. This new faith comes with an inheritance in heaven and an adoption into God’s family of faith.
Key Truth Number Five: We know the objective of the mission.
This mission work is hard. The mission is done not for personal gain, as a matter of fact, it comes at a significant cost. You could lose dear friends and family. You could suffer persecution, even loss of life. You will not be popular. Instead, you will most like be alienated and hated. You may not be famous or be tasked to run a Fortune 500 company. None of those things is our target; that is not why we are here. We are here for the sole purpose to bring eternal life to the perishing, to build up the Kingdom of God. To place living stones, the lives of the regenerated, into the new Temple of God. The results of our mission work, its milestones, its landmark defining moments are not measured here on earth. That moment comes to light, is revealed; we see the treasures the mission work accomplished in heaven.
This mission accomplished moment does not point back to the missionaries; it is a Holy Spirit work, it is his celebration. The captives being set free, the lost sons and daughters are found, the afflicted soul comforted, that is what this Church thing is all about. It is not about meetings and building projects, or even denominations conventions and politics. It is about the lost, the brokenhearted; the disenfranchise all finding their place in the King’s kingdom through faith. This is the burden of the Gospel; this is the responsibility of the Church’s mission. This is the sole reason that we exist, move and have our being. God Bless His Church, and God keep our eyes always firmly grounded in our mission.