THE GREAT COMMISSION OMISSION
Consider with me Jesus’ words, we call “the Great Commission” set in Matthew 28:18-20.
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth, therefore …..
This authority given to the risen, glorified, Jesus is what makes such an impossibly huge and risky task set before his stunned and vulnerable followers, not only possible but doable! It is only on the basis that the Father has given Jesus all authority, not only in the heavenly places but also on earth. Right where they were. Right where we are.
Such an authority has been given to the man Jesus who is risen from death and is gloriously Lord! The authority is given to Jesus alone, but will flow through to those who are joined to him and when the Holy Spirit is at last poured out upon them.
This promise to his followers was given well before the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them. It is this coming of the Holy Spirit that will make all the difference: the authority given him, and only to him, will flow onto them. Why? For what purpose?
……… make disciples of all the nations …….
This means making disciples of Jesus, and not of us, our ideas or our agendas. It is his kingdom not ours. They must follow Jesus, be like him, reproducing, sowing seeds.
What is meant by “the nations”? For a Jew, typically it meant going to the Gentiles. It means peoples everywhere, Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, Romans, Africans, Asians, Chinese, Americans, Westerners, East and West Europeans, indigenous. It means rich, poor, males and females, young, old, everyone. The whole world.
… baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit …
The consistent practice of the first followers was to baptise in the name of Jesus. But Jesus’ emphasis in this context is about plunging disciples into a relationship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and not merely into water. True baptism involves becoming children of the Heavenly Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
….. teaching them to observe all that I commanded you….
It is Jesus’ commands that are important. In the hearts of his disciples Jesus’ words must take the place of all others, previous and yet to come: receive the Holy Spirit, make disciples, bear witness to me, proclaim the Kingdom of God, serve one another, humble yourselves, love one another, glorify the Father …. to mention only a few.
In fact, dare we add to what he asks? Dare we introduce practices, traditions and religion now we have such a momentous and perfect revelation of the mind of the Father in the person of Jesus?
Have we so quickly turned away from the great commission and instead pursued agendas of our own – a great omission – and now we have the great substitution, mere religion?