Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

The Great Commission of the Church of God

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The Great Commission of the Church of God

MP3 Audio (37.14 MB)


The Great Commission of the Church of God

MP3 Audio (37.14 MB)

The commission of the Church is best presented in Matthew 28: 19-20. It is connected to a clear proclamation of the authority of Christ. Watch this message to delve into the personal meaning this short proclamation has for you.


Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 [19] Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×
is a scripture you should have committed to memory: 1) you should know what it says 2) you should know where to find it 3) you should know what it means.

Lets knock off points 1 and 2 right away... [got to verse and read]

My purpose today is to go through the meaning of this scripture so you can add it to your storehouse of knowledge... but also so you renew your sense of purpose from these word of the risen Christ.

The Setting

Matthew 26:32 Matthew 26:32But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 28:16 Matthew 28:16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
American King James Version×
 Jesus had set the time and place for the meeting while He was still with the disciples in the flesh prior to His crucifixion. He told them to meet Him on a specific mountain in the Galilee region. Its not a random location... God does everything for a purpose.

We are not told the name of the mountain... but it was a mountain that must have had some special significance for Christ.

I believe it was that same mountain where a few years earlier Peter, John, and James had been given a foretaste of what was to come when they were permitted to see Jesus in His glorified state. That event is commonly known as the "transfiguration"… which took place on a mountain in the Galilee region.

Matthew 16:28 Matthew 16:28Truly I say to you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
American King James Version×
- 17:1-8  Jesus had described this as a vision of the coming Kingdom, or rule of God on earth… they received an amazing  vision of Jesus in the full glory He would return to after His death and resurrection. They saw Him as king of kings and lord of lords.

Notice: the disciples immediately associated this vision of the kingdom of God... with the feast of tabernacles. Dazed and amazed Peter says "should we set up tabernacles [G4633skeenos - tent, shelter, tabernacle] for the three of you". They would not have made this connection unless they had been taught about it... presumably taught about it by Jesus Himself!

Surely Jesus gave them this foretaste of what lay ahead to help them get through hard times, trials and hardships ahead. They were allowed to foresee the literal fulfillment of the ancient prophecies about the rule of the Messiah.

You too have just been given a brief foretaste of the coming kingdom of God through attendance at the Feast of Tabernacles. And in this way God gives you a vision of the future to help you get through the trials, difficulties and distractions of the coming year.

Declaration of God Given Authority

On that mountain in Galilee the three disciples hear a voice from heaven announce Jesus as the ordained authority from God. Could it be that Christ wanted to meet with the disciples on that same mountain in Galilee to officially commission them as His ordained representatives operating on earth backed up by His own divine authority?

Matthew 17:9 Matthew 17:9And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
American King James Version×
 when Peter, James and John received this vision of transfiguration the appointed time for proclaiming the message of the coming rule of Christ had not yet come. First Jesus had to complete the very important work of providing a complete atonement for human sin.

Could it be that Jesus chose this same mountain in Galilee as the future meeting place where He would formally announce to them the time had come to go forth... proclaim... teach... and make disciples of others?

Matthew 28:1-10 Matthew 28:1-10 [1] In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. [2] And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. [3] His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: [4] And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. [5] And the angel answered and said to the women, Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. [6] He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. [7] And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goes before you into Galilee; there shall you see him: see, I have told you. [8] And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. [9] And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. [10] Then said Jesus to them, Be not afraid: go tell my brothers that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
American King James Version×
 after Jesus’ death and resurrection to life the appointed time had arrived. Instead of silence the disciples would now go forth with the full message of the coming kingdom of God and the salvation available through the Messiah… But they didn't know that yet.

The women were running to tell the others what the angel at the tomb had told them... then the resurrected Jesus appeared to them. Notice that He wanted the women to remind the disciples of the scheduled meeting in Galilee.

Overcoming Fear, Doubt and Uncertainty

Even though the disciples had been told to go to Galilee and meet Christ there after He had risen they required some additional prodding. Matthew leaves out this additional prompting but John record 3 appearances of the resurrected Christ leading up to this meeting on the mountain in Galilee.

Overcoming Fear

John 20:15-23 John 20:15-23 [15] Jesus said to her, Woman, why weep you? whom seek you? She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, Sir, if you have borne him hence, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away. [16] Jesus said to her, Mary. She turned herself, and said to him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. [17] Jesus said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. [18] Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things to her. [19] Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the middle, and said to them, Peace be to you. [20] And when he had so said, he showed to them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. [21] Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be to you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you. [22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive you the Holy Ghost: [23] Whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted to them; and whose soever sins you retain, they are retained.
American King James Version×
 the disciples are gathered together in Jerusalem and they have the doors locked. They are afraid that the Jewish authorities might come after them next. They had arrested and killed Jesus... the same could easily happen to the disciples.

Jesus meets them to address their fears. He tells them to be at peace but also that  He is going to send them forth. He strengthens and encourages them though the power of the Holy spirit… His continuous presence with them. As you go forth into the coming year, remember God and Christ are with you through the power of the holy spirit.

But as for the disciples… they still have not gone to Galilee like He told them.

Overcoming Doubt

John 20:24-31 John 20:24-31 [24] But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. [25] The other disciples therefore said to him, We have seen the LORD. But he said to them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. [26] And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you. [27] Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. [28] And Thomas answered and said to him, My LORD and my God. [29] Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. [30] And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: [31] But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.
American King James Version×
 one week later we find the disciples gathered in Jerusalem behind locked doors. There is still some lingering doubt among them that this is all really happening. Thomas is singled out as doubter in chief.

Jesus meets again with them to address lingering doubts. He gives tangible evidence of the reality of His resurrection. Then He says many future believers will be blessed because they believe based on the testimony and proclamation of the disciples… even though they themself did not directly witnessed the events.

John then adds that the written record of what happened is written for your benefit. So that you too may believe and receive everlasting life. As you go forth into the coming year use God’s written word recorded by his faithful servant give you direction, guidance, and confidence every day.

Overcoming Uncertainty

John 21:1-13 John 21:1-13 [1] After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. [2] There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. [3] Simon Peter said to them, I go a fishing. They say to him, We also go with you. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. [4] But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. [5] Then Jesus said to them, Children, have you any meat? They answered him, No. [6] And he said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. [7] Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat to him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. [8] And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. [9] As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. [10] Jesus said to them, Bring of the fish which you have now caught. [11] Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. [12] Jesus said to them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples dared ask him, Who are you? knowing that it was the Lord. [13] Jesus then comes, and takes bread, and gives them, and fish likewise.
American King James Version×
 the disciples finally go to Galilee but they are still uncertain what to do next. So, they start to go back to the life they lived before those 3.5 amazing years they spent following Jesus.  I’m going to go back to my life as a commercial fisherman.

Christ meets them again to address their uncertainty. Way back in the beginning when He chose them out of a crown Jesus had said he would make them "fishers of men".

John 21:15-17 John 21:15-17 [15] So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. [16] He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my sheep. [17] He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Love you me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.
American King James Version×
 Peter might have been especially uncertain about his standing with Christ and his worthiness to be one of Christ's chosen representatives. Peter have vehemently denied Jesus on that terrifying night of His trial. Now, the risen Christ reassures him that forgiveness is extended to him and that he has an important job to do as an evangelist, teacher, and leader in the Church.

Jesus instruction to feed his flock was repeated three times [an obvious parallel to the three denials of Peter]. However, Jesus does not use the same word each time for “feed” [sadly, lost through inept translation into English]:

one time He uses the word bosko [G1006] meaning literally give them food

another time He uses the word poimano [G4165] which means to govern and care for

Christ was going to send them forth not only to preach and proclaim but to establish and assembly of people to worship, fellowship, and assist with the proclamation. This assembly is the Church of God which you are part of… use this understanding to go forth into the coming year with a sense of purpose and belonging.

Go To The Mountain

Scripture doesn't record Christ specifically saying "now, go to the mountain like I told you to"... but I think its very likely He said something to that effect. Because that is where we find them next. And on that mountain in Galilee they receive a formal, official ordination and commission, from Christ... generally known as the great commission.

He could have done this on any one of the three instances He appeared to them previously… but He did not. He wanted them to go to the appointed place in Galilee.

A couple of years earlier the 3 leading disciples had been given a vision of Jesus in His glorified state. They had heard a voice from heaven saying "this is my son listen to Him". Could it be that Christ wanted them to go back to that same location so they would be able to better connect the dots?

He wanted them to know that the person they had lived with 3.5 years in the flesh was now standing among them… resurrected and ordained with full  authority from heaven... from the Father. And that  He was commanding them to go forth based on that same authority… and that He would be backing them up all along the way. Always remember that you are moving forward in is based on the authoritative word and power of God… no matter what our opponents say. 

He Told Them to Make Disciples

Christ is saying "make learners of people... draw in students"... and by implication teach them. But the word disciple is important because it means not just one who receives instruction... it includes imitation of the master... therefore a disciple both knows, and does.

He Told Them To Baptize

For each believer, baptism is an acknowledgement of: 1) the death of the old person and the rising to life o f a new creation 2) it is a pledge of commitment to the new covenant written in Christ's blood [baptism replaces the rite of circumcision which marked participation in the old covenant written in the blood of sheep and bulls] 3) with the accompanying laying on of hands it is the beginning of new life through the receipt of the holy spirit 4) the laying on of hands is also a recognition of authority

Authority granted Christ from the Father… authority granted to the Church from Christ the head of the church, within that Church He ordains leaders to administer baptism and the laying on of hands.

He Told Them to Teach

Christ has appointed some within the Church to explain, pass along knowledge, to instruct people to obey Christ. Notice that He says we are to teach obedience to ALL THINGS/EVERYTHING...  teachers appointed by Christ will not leave out [or teach against] one of the commandments... such as the 4th... or any other commandment they don't like.

He Said Go To ALL Nations

Clearly the  disciples/apostles did not penetrate to all the nations on the planet. Therefore, this commission is to to be fulfilled by future generations.

He Said I Will Be With You

Jesus remains present within the Church through the power of the holy spirit. He is the head of the Church and bears responsibility for it... yet He operates through people by this same holy spirit.

He Will Not Give Up on The Church

This command [commission] to go forth and His promise to back up the Church with divine power will continue to the the end of the age.

An age is a dispensation of time... an appointed time... a time characterized by some unifying factor... this could men the age of man [the time allocated to humanity to retain dominion over the earth]... it could mean the "last days" [the time from the birth of the Church to the second coming]. But both those ages end when Christ returns to personally enforce the rule of God on earth.

The age of the Church will come to an end... but that end of the age has not yet come. The Church of God is still operating under the commandment to go forth backed by the power and authority of Christ.  


Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 [19] Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×
is a scripture you should have committed to memory. Add the meaning of this scripture to your inventory of knowledge. Use it to renew your sense of purpose and dedication to the job Christ has given His Church.