Matthew 28:16 - 20 (The Message)
The Great Commission
Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
There are a few statements in the Bible that we either take out of context or we just forget to read the rest of the statement. Like when we read Love your neighbour as yourself, we often just stop after neighbour and that can do a lot of damage. Likewise, this passage can do the same if we don’t read it in its fullness.
In the past, I have stopped after a certain word and I can attest that to the consequences of not reading on, of not understanding the whole picture, so to speak. It has skewed my way of thinking, how I have acted and even how I have spoken to others.
For so long (and I believe that it continues presently), we as people of faith have had a tendency to distort the Great Commission. Sometimes we take the collaboration out of it and our evangelism takes on the fervour of trying to get as many people on board as possible while we can neglect the pastoral side to any of this. We can forget that after someone decides to dedicate their life to God is when the hard work begins, and that’s where Jesus needs us to step in and journey with them.
I think Henri Nouwen explains it wonderfully.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life, Henri Nouwen
The Great Commission is not designed for those who solely depend on ‘head’ knowledge but to those who have ‘heart’ and ‘gut’ knowledge. The Great Commission is about collaborating, training, mentoring, leading and loving well. It’s something that we have a privilege of doing
When I read this passage I need to read to the end of the sentence because once again, we cannot do this on our own and Jesus doesn’t want that either.
“I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
So let's read to the actual end of the sentence because when we do that the story can change. Let’s not think we can do all this on our own and continue to collaborate with one another and with Jesus.
Susie Keegan is a creative, a font nerd, a graphic designer and the Church of Ireland Chaplain to Dublin Institute of Technology with 11 years experience in youth work. Use ‘Comic Sans’ in the wrong context and you’ll feel her wrath! Being an author on this blog has really pushed her comfort zone and she is very happy to be part of this community.