“The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:16-20)
As I listen, shock reverberates through me.
Along with a small group of devoted followers, I’d witnessed Jesus’ brutal death.
Three days later came the angel’s message, confirming the women’s proclaiming His resurrection.
Now, He stands with us, inviting us to live on mission with Him.
The questions colliding in my mind are echoed in the whispers of those around me…
Can this truly be our Messiah risen from the dead?
What does it mean to make disciples of all nations?
How can we, struggling to understand the scene unfolding before us, share our stories of the Good News we’ve received?
How can we teach, edify, and encourage those who partner with us on His mission?
This final in-person encounter between Jesus and His disciples is often referred to as The Great Commission, when Jesus charged His followers to make disciples throughout the world, teaching everything they’d learned from Jesus. In this commissioning, Jesus invites those who knew Him best to join His mission foretold by the prophet Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners[.]”
(Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:16-21)
These initial disciples, or students, of Jesus were invited to proclaim what they’d experienced, seen, and learned during their time with Jesus. As more people heard and understood the truth of their sin and of the mercy, grace, and salvation found in Jesus, they had the choice to repent, or turn, from following themselves to surrendering to Jesus. Those who accepted the invitation became new disciples, and new partners in Jesus’ mission.
Sisters, this means you and I are invited into the same mission!
If we repent of our sins and accept the forgiveness and redemption Jesus offers through His atoning death and resurrection, we are commissioned just as the small band of believers on a Galilean mountain centuries ago.
Indeed, Psalm 96:1-3 invites us,
“Sing a new song to the LORD;
let the whole earth sing to the LORD.
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; proclaim His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations, His wondrous works among all peoples.”
When we accept this invitation, we prepare to share how Jesus has redeemed our spirits and is actively transforming our lives.
When we accept this invitation, we must be careful to observe the boundaries of our mission. We are not called to condemn (John 7:53-8:11) or convict others (John 16:8), for Christ is Judge and only the Spirit can convict hearts of sin.
Nor are we called to convince by strong-arming people into believing, as this doesn’t result in authentic, personal faith. (Romans 10:9-10)
Finally, we are not called to “sell fire insurance” by extracting a confession of faith, then sweeping away to the next target, leaving our new sister in Christ stunned and blinking with no concept of how to follow Jesus and make their faith sure. (1 John 1:6-7)
Instead, we are invited to follow Jesus’ example to disciple disciple-makers. As we read of Jesus’ earthly ministry in Scripture, we see Him call disciples, then invest three years in teaching, loving, correcting, and encouraging them before commissioning them to make new disciples. (Luke 6:12-16)
Three years isn’t a magic number for discipleship; rather, Christ demonstrates the importance of a continual posture of learning for believers, and of those more mature in the faith to invest in those who are newer. Decades later, early church apostle and preacher Paul spoke to this:
“You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
Some believers, like Paul, might be called to share the gospel with those in distant lands, as the Good News of salvation is for everyone! Others might be led to join God’s mission closer to home, reaching out to those in their own communities. Both are necessary and valuable!
For me (Bri), a mom of three youngish kids in the middle of the US, sharing the Gospel has entailed reaching out to other moms I encounter in my day-to-day mommin’. I still remember screwing up every ounce of courage I could wring out of my shaking self to ask another mom at the local community center if I could pray with her about a challenge she faced. A few years later, she and I and a small group of other moms gathered around my crumb-covered kitchen table, exploring Scripture, sharing our hearts, and learning together while our littles played nearby.
Friend, how is Jesus calling you to partner with Him on His mission?
With whom can you share the Gospel?
How can you pursue discipleship, for yourself or investing in another?
Our mission can seem scary and overwhelming!
Take courage, for He has not sent us out alone.
He is our Emmanuel, God with us. (Isaiah 7:14)
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
*This Journey Study was co-authored by Bri Bailey and Carol Graft
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