Summary: The great commission of Jesus to all believers to make disciples of all people-groups.

The Mission To Evangelize The World

Matthew 28:16-20

By John Ojewole

The text of the message preached at the 2nd Annual Conference of the North American Fellowship of African Baptist Pastors, held in Nashville Tennessee from September 18 – 19, 2000.

Today, I am speaking from a familiar passage of scriptures. That passage contains the great commission of our Lord to his followers. Of all the gospel writers, Matthew was the only one who gave us something that can properly be called an ending. An ending which looks forward to the continuing work of the gospel by the messianic community of our Lord. This ending paragraph was relevant to them then and it is relevant to us today. It gives us a mission plan to evangelize the whole world. I would like to present to you for consideration, the topic, The Mission to Evangelize the World. Would you turn your bibles with me to the last paragraph of the gospel of Matthew, chapter 28, verses 16-20. (Mat 28:16 NIV) Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.

(Mat 28:17 NIV) When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

(Mat 28:18 NIV) Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

(Mat 28:19 NIV) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

(Mat 28:20 NIV) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

May we bow our heads for a word of prayer.

INTRODUCTION: Before our Lord Jesus left this world, he gave his bewildered disciples a commission that is global in nature. Jesus must have been concerned about the continuation and furtherance of the gospel after he might have gone. Therefore, he entrusted them with a mission to evangelize the whole world. The commission that was given to them then is meant for us as well; both individually and corporately. In this message of today we are going to see that to be involved in the mission to evangelize the world, we must take into serious account the divine power for missions, the divine plan for missions, and the divine promise for missions.

We may ask the question, where does our power come for missions? This leads us to the first point in this message.

1. The Divine Power for Missions. 16-18.

(Mat 28:16 NIV) Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.(Note that for the first time the disciples are referred to as eleven instead of twelve. That means the twelve minus Judas ).

(Mat 28:17 NIV) When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

(Mat 28:18 NIV) Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

The work of missions is not an easy task. No one could do it by his or her own power. It takes the power of God for anyone to survive any missionary venture. Persons called to this field must be provided with confidence and authority as they venture into this area of ministry. Gene Mims puts it this way “The power and authority to do what our Lord has commanded are His, not ours…. Christ’s power, presence, and authority gives us the courage and the right to go from place to place sharing the good news of salvation. If we did not have his power and his command to share the gospel, our efforts to win persons to him would be futile.” Jesus knew that his disciples could not function well apart from Him. And now that he is going to leave them physically, he believed that they need his power. In another instance in the gospel of John, Jesus had told his disciples the following: (John 15:5 NIV) "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

There are three things that we need to know about this divine power for missions that was mentioned in the gospel of Matthew. First, when we are frustrated, powerless and doubtful, the power of God provides us comfort. Jesus had noted that some of them were still doubtful. The bible says in (Mat 28:17 NIV) When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. He must have seen the sadness and pain on their face, which was occasioned by Jesus’ impending departure from their midst. There is no time when this people need comfort than now. This comfort is provided by the power of God. When you are doubtful and discouraged in missions, rely on the power of God. The bible says, (Prov 29:25 NIV) Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.

Second the power that is given for this mission is an absolute divine power. Jesus said all authority has been given to me. This was not a few of them but all of them. The power that was promised in the times of old has been given to Jesus. The bible says in (Dan 7:14 NIV) He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Third, this power confirms the universal nature of the authority of Jesus. Jesus said all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. The power of Jesus is universal. Jesus is omnipotent. The power of Jesus is all you will always need as you do missions in this sin-tainted and demon-infested world. If you have ever been afraid, come to Jesus and rely on his power. In Acts 1:8, Jesus told his disciples about the coming of this power that came in the Holy SPIRIT at Pentecost. That power resides in every believer today. The Holy Spirit is all that you will ever need to evangelize the world without fear. You would recall that before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the power from on high. He puts it this way (Acts 1:4 NIV) …"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. In verse 8 of the same passage, the bible recorded the following instruction made by Jesus. He said, (Acts 1:8 NIV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

The authority of Jesus that is presented here formed the basis for the commission that will be given later. Note one thing that the word translated power in this passage is the Greek word, dynamos from which we got our English word, dynamite. Dynamites are explosives, isn’t it? Jesus is saying, I will give you dynamite power. A power that supercedes any power in the world. A power that is not under any subjection of any king or kingdom. A power that is not controllable by the demonic forces of this world. A power that is wrought by the Holy Spirit of God. Please note three things about this instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ. First, it contains a promise. Second, it identifies the power of for witnessing which is the Holy Spirit of God. Third, it enables us to know the purpose of the Holy Spirit advent. Lastly, it identifies the places where we are to carry out our missions. We are to begin locally, then nationally, and then internationally.

Having assured his disciples of this power for the task ahead, he then gave them the mandate that they are supposed to carry out. This tells us something about God. Before he gives us a task he will equip us ahead of such responsibility. With the connective word, therefore, Jesus connects the authority he has with the task that is to be entrusted to his disciples. This leads us to the second point.


(Mat 28:19 NIV) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

(Mat 28:20 NIV) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..."

In one main imperative verb, which is “Make disciples,” and three subordinate participles having imperatival force, Jesus told his disciples what he wanted them to do.

Jesus gave them a mandate to move out of their immediate domain to do missions. He said, therefore, go. Or to translate it from the Greek one would translate it as, therefore, “as you are going” or “since you are going.” It is not accident that the word translated apostles is the Greek word apostolos which means one sent. In his book, God Who Sends, Dr. Francis M. Dubose, a one time head of department of Missions at the Golden Gate Baptist Seminary of Mill Valley California said that “Missions means sending.” A missionary is one sent with the message to preach the good news to the lost. Jesus said to his disciples to go into the world. To do missions, we must endeavor to get out of our comfort zones in order to win others for the Lord. It must be noted that every mission-minded church must be a sending and a going church. In his book, Kingdom Principles for Church Growth, Gene Mims said, “A church that does not go to lost persons and share the gospel with them is like a restaurant that has food prepared but refuses to serve the hungry.” After telling them to go, he gave them three instructions as to what they should do when they go.

First, they are to make disciples of all nations. In other words, they are to be involved in global missions. Their main task here is to nurture persons that they encounter into the experience of discipleship. A disciple is a learner or a pupil. To make them a follower of Jesus is to witness to them and bring them to the fold of Jesus Christ. To make them to follow righteousness. With Jesus’ instruction here, there is a shift in paradigm in their missionary strategy. They are not to restrict themselves to the Jews alone but the whole world. It is interesting to note that the word translated nations is the Greek word ethne from which we got our English word, ethnic. This word means tribes, people groupings, nations, racial groups, and non-Jews. We need to know that as of today there are about 22,000 people-groupings in the world. The gospel of Jesus must be preached to all these people before the end will come. Jesus said the following in the word of God. (Mat 24:14 NIV) And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Second, they were commissioned to incorporate new converts into the kingdom of God. He told them to baptize the believers. The way that Jesus presented this doctrine settles one important doctrinal issue in Christendom; which is: only believers should be baptized. After they have won persons to Jesus, then they must baptize them. This word, baptize, is the Greek transliteration of the Greek word, baptizontes which means to immerse, submerge or dip into something. This baptism is an initiation into the kingdom of God, which is administered under the authority of the entire Godhead. It must be noted that this practice was continued in the early church. The bible says in (Acts 2:38 NIV) Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

(Acts 2:41 NIV) Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

(Acts 8:12 NIV) But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Every bible believing church does the same today.

A third command was also given. They are to mature the new believers. When we go to witness to the lost, we must not leave the believers at the point where they accept the Lord Jesus Christ into their lives without proper follow-up; we should feed them with the word of God so that they will grow. We must catechize them to observe the teachings of the Lord that are printed in the word of God. Basically, Jesus Christ knew that for the continuity of his ministry, the knowledge he had imparted to his disciples must be taught to others. As believers, we must teach others to observe the decree of the Lord. As believers we are mandated by Jesus to hand on the teachings of Jesus Christ to see to it that new disciples make it their way of life.

In sum, Jesus made the plan of this mission very clear. First, we are mandated to go in to the world. Second, we are to make disciples or evangelize people. Third, we are to make members out of the new converts through initiatory ordinance of baptism. And lastly, we are to mature the new converts so that they will grow in the knowledge of God.

Having reassured them of the power for missions and the plan of missions, Jesus Christ gave them a final instruction. He must have observed that the disciples needed a further assurance before departing from this global village. The disciples needed further comfort. Then Jesus gave them one. This leads us to the final point of this message.


(Mat 28:20 NIV)… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Jesus reassured his disciples of his continued presence with them after he might have gone. They need this. Jesus is the Emmanuel, God with us. He is the one who became flesh and dwell among us. History reveals that when David Livingston, the pioneer missionary to Africa, was on the dangerous mission trip to Africa, he imprinted this word of Jesus on his ship, “I am with you always.” When he was asked in latter years how he was able to survive such a dangerous trip passing through that region at that time unharmed. He said, the words of Jesus helped me, which says, “I am with you always.” Looking at this promise of our Lord, we observe the following implications of this promise to global missions. First, the promise was a confirmed assurance that we need for missions. Second, the promise conveys the constant and continued presence of Jesus with his people. He said “I am with you always.” Third, this presence that was promised was a timeless one. He said his presence would be with us till the end of the age. The word translated “age” here is the Greek word aion, which denotes an indefinitely long period. In idiomatic usage, it means forever and ever. In other words, Jesus will be present with us till He returns the second time. This is an assurance that should serve as encouragement for all missionaries whether locally or globally. Whether you are serving as a missionary in the remote part of Africa or in downtown Los Angeles, Whether you are pastoring in Canada or in South Africa, you are not alone because, Jesus is with you always. The bible says in (Heb 13:5 NIV) God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

CONCLUSION: God is still calling every one of us into missions. The field is ripe for harvest, but the laborers are few. Would you answer God’s call to missions today like Isaiah did, and say boldly like him that, “Here am I, send me?” (Isaiah 6:8). Our mission is global. Our mandate is very urgent because many people are dying in their sins daily. I pray and hope that we would all become involved in global missions such that we would be able to proudly say at the end as did the African carrier of David Livingston during his African mission. While their statement was shallow with limited knowledge of world geography, their perspective was worthy of note. They said, “We went on till we had finished the whole world. We only turned when there was no more land.” May God help us to assume this mandate from God today, believing that God has giving us the power for our missions; he has given us the plan for our missionary enterprise; and he has provided us with the promise of his eternal presence. This is all we need. Remember that “to whom much is given, much will be required.” May God find us faithful when he comes. This is our hope. This is our prayer.