After His resurrection, Jesus met with His disciples in Galilee, at
the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them (Matt. 28:16, NKJV). Not only the eleven, but also more than five hundred brethren gathered there to meet the risen Lord (1 Cor. 15:6). The One who had conquered death said to them:
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18, NKJV). His power and authority are no longer voluntarily limited as they were during His earthly ministry. Rather, as before the Incarnation, His authority includes the whole universe. Based on His unquestionable authority, He entrusts a mission to His followers.
According to Matthew’s account, in giving the Great Commission, Jesus used four verbs: go, make disciples, baptize, and teach. Unfortunately, many Bible versions do not reflect on the fact that, in Greek, the only verb that is imperative is make disciples, while the other three verbs are participles. This means that the emphasis of the sentence is on make disciples, the other three activities being dependent on it.
What is the role of going, baptizing, and teaching in fulfilling the command to make disciples? See Matt. 28:19-20.
Jesus’ mandate indicates three activities involved in making disciples. The three activities do not need to occur in a particularly sequential order; rather, they complement each other. While going to different places, eventually to the entire world, we should be teaching everything Jesus taught, baptizing those who accept Him as Savior and are willing to observe all the things Jesus commanded.
We rejoice when somebody is baptized, but baptism is not the end of the story. It is just part of the process of making someone a disciple. Our task is to invite people to follow Jesus, which means to believe in Him, to obey His teachings, to adopt His way of life, and to invite others to become His disciples, too.
The word all characterizes this text. Because Jesus has
all authority, we have to go to
all the nations teaching them to observe
all things pertaining to the gospel, with the assurance that Christ is with us
all the days) to the end of the age.
Think about your local church. What is done there to help nurture and disciple new believers? What more can be done? Ask yourself, too: what talents do you have that you could use in this important part of fulfilling the gospel commission?