Matt. 28:16-20, The Great Commission

Introduction: Historical Context

This passage is called the Great Commission. It is the final instructive word from Jesus to His church.

Jesus had just risen. The Jews had killed Him and were equally ready to do away with His disciples. The Roman empire was a strict ruler that didn't like people causing any problems. The ruler of the land was Herod. There was a great tension between the Jewish community and the Roman power system. The Jews wanted to be free from Roman rule. The Romans wanted this small strange country called Israel to be peaceful.

The dominant religion in the Roman Empire was emperor worship, cesearopapism.

Tiberius Caesar was the ruler from A.D. 14-37. Next was Caligula (37-41) and then Claudius (41-54). It was Nero who persecuted the Christians (54-68). In A.D. 70, Jerusalem was besieged by the Romans, and the Temple was destroyed. You need to notice the similarities between the Roman Empire and America.

Both are not Christian nations but only have Christians in them.

Both have officials in high places who are antagonistic to Christianity.

And . . . it was into this world that Jesus sent the disciples. Their commission was difficult and so is yours.

Intro: Jesus had been crucified and had risen from the dead. The atonement had occurred, and because of it, you have been purchased with the blood of God (Acts 20:28). Because you are redeemed and purchased, you are no longer your own. You belong to Christ. Therefore, these words are for you even as they were for the disciples.

  1. Verse 16, "But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated."
    1. The mountain is often used in the Bible to designate a meeting with God.
      1. Moses received the ten commandments on Mt. Sinai.
      2. Jesus spoke to the woman at the well about which mountain upon which they should worship God.
      3. Jesus went up on the mount for the transfiguration.
      4. They were in a meeting, not behind closed doors but out in the open. They were not hiding.
    2. They went where Jesus commanded them to go.  
      1. If you want to maintain communion with Christ, you must go to where He has appointed you to go.
  2. Verse 17, "And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful."
    1. An interesting contrast: Some worshipped, some doubted even though He had been crucified and risen from the dead.
      1. Jesus did not reject those who doubted. They were there. They had made the journey.  He did not reject them.
      2. Also, Jesus accepted the worship of those who were there.
    2. Jesus is worshiped in many Scriptures: Matt. 2:2, 2:11, 14:33, 28:9, John 9:35-38, Heb. 1:6.
      1. Jesus receives worship and
      2. does not rebuke them.  He said in Matt. 4:10 that you are to worship God and serve Him only. Yet, Jesus receives their worship.
      3. This is important because it means He is God.
        1. Which is why He could say later, "I am with you to the end of the age."
          1. He will not leave you alone or unequipped.
  3. Verse 18, "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."
    1. This is one of the most important statements that Jesus ever made.
    2. Jesus has all the authority . . . in heaven and on earth.
      1. Authority to forgive sins (Luke 5:20, 7:48).
      2. Authority to mediate to the Father (1 Tim. 2:5).
      3. Authority to send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26, 15:26).
      4. Authority to open the hearts and minds of His people (Luke 24:45).
      5. Authority to reveal the Father (Matt. 11:27, Luke 10:22).
      6. Authority to give eternal life to whom He chooses (John 10:27-28).
      7. Authority to raise us up on the last day (John 6:40).
    3. Jesus, before His incarnation, was equal with the Father, and He possessed all authority and power. He is still equal to the Father, but now He has two natures: God and Man.
      1. He was made under the Law (Gal. 4:4).
      2. This is because Jesus was a man (Phil. 2:5-8) and had humbled Himself.
      3. Therefore, as the God-man and as the Mediator, all power was given Him.
  4. Verse 19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit"
    1. This commission is mainly given to the disciples then present. But it applies to you as well.
      1. You are called by Jesus to make disciples of all people.
      2. You are called by Jesus to go out into the world and teach.
      3. You are called by Jesus to live the truth of changing power of Christ's redemptive work.
    2. Baptism was a common practice back then. It was for converts to the faith and was practiced by more groups than the Christians alone.
    3. However, Christian baptism is a picture of the death of one's self and rebirth in the Son.
      1. Rom. 6:4, "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."
    4. To be baptized is to publically show your commitment to the Lord and to His call in your life.
      1. What did your baptism mean to you?
      2. Was it a social event that you did because "It is the thing to do"?
      3. Was it because your parents wanted you to do it?
      4. Or . . . was it because you have identified with the Lord and have committed yourself to Him?
    5. The Baptism Formula
      1. There are cult groups that say you are only to be baptized "In Jesus Name."
      2. They deny the doctrine of the Trinity, and they deny the baptismal formula of "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." They are false teachers.
  5. Verse 20, " . . . teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
    1. When someone becomes a Christian, he is to follow the ways of the Lord Jesus.
      1. It means that you pick up your cross and follow him:
        1. Matt. 16:24, "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'"
      2. It means to love one another.
        1. John 13:34, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
      3. That Jesus is the most important person in your life.
        1. Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple."
    2. Jesus is always with you. He will never leave you.
      1. Comfort for you.
        1. This is a sign of His deity, and it is a comfort to know that Jesus is always with us. He will never leave us or forsake us no matter what the situation.
  6. What can you do where you are?
    1. Pray and ask God to cleanse you.
      1. Start with your own sin. Confess it.   Forsake it.
    2. Pray and ask God to change you.
      1. Appeal to God to do to you what needs to be done
    3. Pray and ask God to use you to glorify Him and expand His kingdom.
      1. Whereever you are
      2. Whatever you are doing
    4. Pray and ask God to carry you through the difficulty of being used.
      1. Being used of God can be difficult



Jesus wants you to finish what He started. He came to the disciples, taught them, and worked with them. He then died on the cross and rose from the dead. But, before He ascended into Heaven, He gave them and you the commission to convert the world. He will not ask you to do the impossible.

You need to know that your efforts to honor Christ by obeying His call to make disciples of all nations is something that you can do. Do it where you are, with those whom you meet, with those you work with, with those you go to school with, etc.  Be a witness for Jesus in your lives and when necessary talk about Him, too.

When you seek to accomplish God's will, He will bless your efforts because you're seeking to obey Him.