And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
They are the words of our Savior, God of the Universe Himself – Jesus. Go, make disciples, baptize and teach. Pretty clear, right? We know what go means, what make disciples mean and what teach means and we know that this was Jesus speaking. Common knowledge in the Christian community.
Do we know that this is not a suggestion from Jesus? Do we realize that our Lord, the one who has authority over us issued these words as a direct command? That the Great Commission is actually a direct order to us? They are words that are spoken with the clear expectation that the listener will do them – Jesus is our commander and we are His servant, it is right for us to follow His orders.
Those of you who have been in the military would understand this very clearly from experience. When your commanding officer gave you an order, what did you do? You hopped to it and did exactly as you were told if you were a good soldier. Even if you weren’t, you still did what you were told, just perhaps with not as much gusto. If the commanding general of your branch came into your barrack and gave you an order, what would you do? You would hop to it so fast you would make heads spin. Why, because who he is in the authority structure and who you were/are. How about the commanding general of the entire world’s orders?
The same type of authority was present in the days of Jesus. The Roman Army did not mess around when it came to following orders. You either followed your commanders orders or you had a very bad day – like beaten almost to death or actual execution type of bad day. Harsh, severe iron fisted Roman discipline is what allowed them to conquer much of the known world. The commanders expected the soldiers to follow their orders to the letter or there would be serious consequences.
Thus, when Jesus comes across a Centurion in Matthew 8, a commander of a hundred soldiers who requests that Jesus heal his servant, the Centurion demonstrates an understanding of authority that those who never served lack. You will recall that the Centurion asks Jesus to heal his servant and Jesus says He will go with him to his home. The Centurion objects in response saying:
The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
The Centurion understands that he, a limited commander of men has great unquestioned authority to order men around and that they will listen because of his position as Centurion. The great might of the Roman Army backs him up and inflicts great damage if the Centurion is ignored. He understands that Jesus’ authority is even greater – the power of the Roman Army s puny compared to that of Jesus – He has command over disease and death itself as he is THE LORD of all Lords, not just a simple human commander. Jesus just needs to speak a word, a command and it will be done. The Commander of all commanders should be obeyed without question.
Did you know that the word “Go” on Matthew 8 is the same word as in the Great Commission, Matthew 28, “Go”. Same word used as the same command from a superior officer to one under authority – I command you to go based upon my authority and I expect you to go without question. All authority on the earth is His after all.
So we are commanded by Jesus as our Lord to go — are we going? Are we setting out of our homes and seeking to work on behalf of Jesus? Doesn’t mean we have to go to Uganda or Pakistan, sometimes our neighbors and friends are harder mission fields than strangers in foreign lands, just that our mission is to go on behalf Jesus.
We are commanded by Jesus our Lord to make disciples of all nations – are we making disciples? How do we make disciples you may ask? Well, someone is not Jesus’ disciple until they hear Jesus’s message and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We make disciples initially by preaching the Gospel, the message of the Cross. Are we making disciples?
We are commanded by Jesus to baptize, there is no limitation given here about position and professional ministers – so are we baptizing?
We are commanded by Jesus to teach them to observe all things that Jesus have commanded – Are we teaching others what Jesus and His disciples have taught to us?
We as fallen, human imperfect beings are given the opportunity and great privilege of playing a part in the greatest miracle of all of human history, people raised to life in Jesus Christ through the power of the Gospel.
Are we grabbing that opportunity with both hands and shouting the name of the One who saved us from sin?
Are we following the order of our Commander in Chief, the King of Kings?
Or are we defying Jesus’ Great Commission?
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”