“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.” – Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
“Many people believe that mission and ministry are carried out by a select few professional clergy or an elite number of mission agencies… But here’s the reality: God’s mission was given to every member of His church. We are called to be everyday missionaries.” – Dustin Willis & Aaron Coe, Life On Mission: Joining the Everyday Mission of God
Christ’s command in Matthew 28:18-20 is called the Great Commission. This commission contains a single imperative verb with three subordinate participles. The imperative verb is “make disciples.” The three participles that explain how to make disciples are “going, baptizing and teaching.” It is this first participle, “going,” that I want us to consider.
In the Greek, the word that the ESV translates as “go,” might literally be translated, “being already on the go,” or “as you are going.” The idea seems to be that since we are already going somewhere, we should start making disciples as we go.
Yet, it must also include the emphasis that Jesus added, namely, “making disciples of all nations.” The Greek word translated “nations,” is ethnos. It is where we get the word, “ethnic.” So, our going and making disciples must include an emphasis on every “ethnic,” which includes every race, color, language and culture in the world.
So, we are commanded by Jesus to make disciples as we go, with an emphasis on going to all nations.
As you go
What does it look like to make disciples as you go? It means that we are to become disciple makers as a way of life. Whether we are going to work, to school, to shop or to play, we are to be making disciples. This changes the way we look at our lives. We become aware that every relationship is a potential opportunity to talk to them about Jesus and invite them to respond to Him by becoming one of His disciples.
We have been authorized by Christ’s “authority” to represent Him to the world. We are His “ambassadors” (2 Cor. 5:20), making disciples for Him everywhere we go. The calling to make disciples as we go, is a calling to be “everyday missionaries.”
This is consistent with Christ’s command to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Our going to make disciples begins right where we are, right in our own “Jerusalem.” But it doesn’t stop there..
Going to all nations
… Our going must include the emphasis of making disciples of all nations. We start at home, but we move out from there to all the world. What does this look like?
For some of us, we will feel the call to go and live in another part of the world in order to make disciples there. Be careful not to think that this call will only affect someone else. Put your “Yes” on the table. Tell the Lord that you are willing to go wherever He sends you. Be like the prophet Isaiah and say, “Here I am Lord, send me!” (Isa. 6:8).
For others, the Lord might call you to go on a short term mission trip. Our church is currently working with ministry partners in Guatemala, Indonesia and Uganda. Many of you can answer the call to join us on one of these trips. Getting out of the USA and seeing what God is doing in the rest of the world is life-changing.
All of us, should be aware of the nations that are living here with us. People from around the world have come to our country. Look for them as you go. Remember the Lord’s command to go towards them in your disciple-making. As you go towards those who are from “Samaria” and the “ends of the earth,” you will find that the Lord will give you a special love for them and a great desire to see them become disciples of Jesus. And all of us should be praying and giving sacrificially, so that the nations are reached with the gospel.
Are you making disciples of Jesus as you go?