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Story of the Bible, Act 8: The Great Commission

Author: Mark Woods, 5 August 2020

Jesus' words in the last verses of Matthew's Gospel have driven Christian mission for centuries. The gospel isn't just for us, it's for everyone.

Starting from a small and persecuted group of believers in first-century Palestine, the Church now encompasses millions of people around the world – and it's still growing today.  

Jesus' command to his disciples that they should go to 'all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples' is very well known to us. There are three things that are worth noticing, though. First, Jesus says he's been given 'all authority in heaven and on earth' – an amazing claim from anyone, and particularly someone who has been crucified on a Roman cross. This means that when we preach the gospel – however we do it – we don't do it as though we were trying to make a sale to a reluctant client, or begging them to give us something we need. We are representing Jesus and announcing the truth.  

Second, we don't always remember the content of the message we're given: we're to 'teach them to obey everything I have commanded you'. That 'everything' is very demanding – and before we can teach anything, we have to be willing to learn. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) sets a very high standard, but Jesus taught his disciples throughout the Gospels, in word and deed as well. Learning to obey Jesus is a life-long task. How about reading through the Gospels with pen and paper in hand, noting down everything Jesus tells us to do?  

Third, though, Jesus says: 'I will be with you always, to the end of the age' (Matthew 28.20). We might feel very isolated sometimes when we're the only believer in our family or place of work, but we are never really alone: Jesus is with us. There's nothing we can't do in his strength, empowered by his Holy Spirit.  

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