The Great Commission

Do you remember learning bible verses when you were small?

It might have been at Sunday School, VBS, or from a beloved family member, but many of us have been committing the word to memory since before we could read or write.

One of the verses I distinctly remember learning as a young child was The Great Commission:

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit,

20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

I remember being small, thinking that it was pretty straightforward. Jesus wanted us to share his life and teachings with EVERYBODY and that Jesus would always be with us no matter what.

It's funny, thinking back at how pure my understanding was, and it wasn't until I got older and tried to wrestle with what Jesus really meant that I started to question how I could fulfill the great commission.

As a teen, I wondered exactly how did Jesus expect me, one person, to go out and make disciples of ALL THE NATIONS. I could barely talk about my faith to other kids at school that I knew, let alone strangers in a far-off land. How in the world was I supposed to get to ALL THE NATIONS, and if I did get there, how could Jesus expect me to teach anything considering they probably spoke a language I didn't even know.

This verse has been written on my heart and committed to my memory for decades. Yet, it always felt hard because, unlike other verses where I was confident that I could live their truth to the fullest, the idea of converting, baptizing, and teaching seemed to be outside the realm of the possible.

Even now, as an adult, the practical questions come to mind:

If I believe in The Great Commission and live my life according to Jesus' word, am I not compelled to share the teachings of Jesus? Shouldn't I make disciples of people, baptize, and continue supporting the discipleship of Christians?

How do I bridge the gap of physical distance and language barriers to teach others about the life and teachings of Jesus?

One thing that a very patient camp counselor reminded me of when I was railing about the impossibility of living the Great Commission was that Jesus told His disciples on Mt. Saini (not just one person) to go out to all the nations of the world. So from inception, this has always been a group project, and no one person holds the burden of personally evangelizing the whole world.

Another thing this sage counselor (who was probably only a few years older than me at the time) shared is that Jesus will always give you the tools you need to do what you were put here on this earth to do.

I wanted a detailed task list with specific procedures to know what I needed and how to do it "right." I was looking for instructions in the weeds when Jesus gave me objectives.

As far as a task list, it's a pretty clear:

  • Make Disciples
  • Baptize Them
  • Teach Them To Observe My Word

My younger self only saw the roadblocks to living this verse and none of the opportunities.

One of the ways I learned to overcome things like a language barrier was to use tools like the EvangeCube when sharing the life of Jesus with others. Suppose we both spoke the same language, great! I could go into greater depth about what each picture meant. However, if we didn't speak the same language, the images on the seven-picture cube unfold the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The cube begins showing the separation of man from God and progressively opens to reveal Christ's death on the cross, open tomb, Christ's resurrection, heaven and hell, and followers of Christ.

It is a proven, simple, and effective tool to share Jesus's story and communicate his teachings.

So when we think about The Great Commission, rather than worry that it's impossible to live out, instead take comfort in the promise that Jesus will always be with us. He'll provide the tools necessary to live according to His instructions in a way that honors the gifts, talents, opportunities, and resources He affords us.