In Matthew 28:16-20, the Apostle Matthew says this:
“But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, ‘All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.'”
In this passage, the Apostle Matthew describes the Commissioner of the Great Commission and the Commission itself. He describes the Commissioner’s missionaries, His majesty, His mercy, His mastership, His mandate, and His manifestation. For my purposes, I want to stress the mandate of the Commissioner, the Great Commission. This mandate consists of begetting disciples, baptizing disciples, and brainwashing disciples.
In verse 16, we see the Commissioner’s missionaries. Who are the missionaries is this context? The eleven main disciples of Jesus. Have you ever stopped to consider what the term, “disciple,” actually means? It basically means a follower, and a learner, or student. It is someone who follows the teachings of a teacher, and seeks to imitate him or her. In this case, the Teacher is Jesus. So, a disciple of Jesus is someone who seeks to imitate Him and follow His teachings. However, in this context, Jesus gave these disciples a mission: go to the mountain which He designated. Not only did Jesus give them this mission, but they accomplished their mission by going to the mountain which He designated.
In the first part of verse 17, we see the Commissioner’s majesty. This sentence says that, when the eleven disciples saw Jesus, they worshiped Him. In the context, this means that they bowed down to Him, at the least. Why? Because they saw Him, and seeing Him compelled them to worship Him since He was so majestic to look at, having a resurrected body, showing that He was indeed the God who promised He would rise from the dead.
In the second part of verse 17, we see the Commissioner’s mercy. It says that, although the eleven disciples worshiped Him when they saw Him, some of them were doubtful. In other words, some were doubtful that He had indeed risen from the dead. This can be deduced from taking into consideration the numerous measures that Jesus took to convince His disciples that He had risen from the dead, including eating in front of them, inviting one of them to put their hands into the holes from the nails and spear, and explaining how a spirit does not have flesh and bones like He had. All of these actions indicate that some were doubtful that He had risen from the dead, as is indicated here. How does this show His mercy? Because doubting Christ’s Word and God’s Word is a sin, and those who doubted deserved to be cast into hell for their doubt, and the seriousness of their sin is especially evident, since they are right in front of Him, and are still, or have just finished, worshiping Him. Therefore, Christ is showing His mercy toward them by not killing them and casting their souls into hell right at this moment.
In verse 18, we see the Commissioner’s mastership. It says that Jesus came up to the eleven disciples and said to them, “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” What does this mean? It means that Christ has authority over all things in the universe. In other words, He has the very power of God over all things and created beings; He controls all things and created beings. Why? His Father gave Him all authority in heaven (space and heaven) and on earth. He has ALL AUTHORITY. Not only this, but He has all authority in heaven, and all authority on earth. Nothing is not under His authority. He has no limit to His authority, except He does not have authority over His Father. To put it another way, every single created thing, whether physical or non-physical, is under His authority. He can do whatever He wants with anything and any created being, and He does do whatever He wants with them; He is the Supreme Authority over the universe.
In verses 19-20, we see the Commissioner’s mandate. The first part of this mandate is the mandate to beget disciples. What does this mean? He is telling His disciples, “Because all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth, go and make disciples of all the nations.” Notice that He doesn’t just say, “Therefore make disciples of all the nations,” but “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” This implies that, before the disciples can even begin to make disciples of all the nations, they must go somewhere. Where are they to go? To all the nations. In other words, there is not a single nation that they are not to go to and in which they are not to make disciples. It bears repeating — Jesus is telling His disciples, “Because all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth, go and make disciples of all the nations.”
What does it mean to make disciples? Well, again, a disciple of Jesus is someone who tries to imitate Him, and follow His teachings. Thus, to make disciples of Jesus is to create people who try to imitate Him and follow His teachings. What was His most important teaching? The gospel. In fact, teaching the gospel to someone is the only way that they can possibly become a disciple at heart, since it is the gospel alone that is “the power of God for the salvation of all who believe” it, and to those who are being saved, the power of God. Also, Jesus Himself, when He first began His public ministry of making disciples, had His disciple-making ministry summed up by the account that He began to preach, saying “the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” Nothing but the teaching of the gospel can beget disciples, since it is the gospel alone that is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe it.
The second part of the Commissioner’s mandate is found in the second part of verse 19, which records Jesus as telling His disciples to baptize the disciples that they make from all the nations that they’ve gone to. Now, notice something extremely important here: verse 19 reads like this: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, BAPTIZING them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit . . .” (NASB, emphasis mine). Notice that, the way the sentence is constructed, we can see that at least one of the ways in which Jesus is commanding His disciples to make disciples is by baptizing them. In other words, they are not truly a disciple until they have been baptized. This is something that needs to be recognized: you are not making disciples if you are not baptizing them. And in what name does Jesus tell His disciples to baptize them in? The name (singular) of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The third part of the Commissioner’s mandate is to brainwash disciples. This is found in the first part of verse 20, where Jesus goes on to add one of the ways in which disciples are to be made — by teaching them to observe all that He commanded His disciples. Again, just like the mandate to baptize, this mandate to teach people to observe all that He commanded His disciples is one of the ways in which disciples are made. If people are not taught to observe all that He commanded His disciples, then they are not disciples. Now, how can this possibly be done so as to make a disciple without striving for someone’s perfect obedience of Jesus’s commands. Again, it is the gospel. According to the book of Titus, “the grace of God has appeared to all men, teaching us to renounce worldly passions, and to live upright, self-controlled, and godly lives in this present age . . .” How do we see the grace of God? By understanding the gospel. Therefore, it is the gospel that teaches people to renounce worldly passions, and to live upright, self-controlled, and godly lives in this present age. To put it another way, the gospel teaches people to observe all that Jesus commanded His disciples. Thus, teaching the gospel is the only way to teach people to observe all that Jesus commanded His disciples, as it is the only way to beget disciples.
In the second part of verse 20, we see the Commissioner’s manifestation. He finishes His address in this passage to His disciples by telling them “keep this in mind: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” In other words, even after He has ascended into heaven He will be with them in His Spirit, and He will be with them even until the end of this age. In other words, He will always be with them, empowering them to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He commanded them.
So, do you obey Jesus?
Do you worship Jesus?
Do you doubt Jesus?
Because all authority has been given to Jesus in heaven and on earth, as you’re going, do you make disciples of any nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded the first disciples?
Have you been made into a disciple by being baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and by being taught to observe all that Jesus commanded the first disciples?
Is Jesus with you?
Do you understand how disciples are to begin teaching people to observe all that Jesus commanded His first disciples? The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16 and 1:18-32:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousnessof men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.”
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13