Summary: The last words of Jesus were for us to go and make disciples.
The Great Commission
Introduction: Last words are precious. Whether someone you love is going on a short trip or will be gone for a long time, those last words they speak reverberate in your mind sometimes for years. “I love you.” “Take care of yourself.” “Be good now.” We remember the last words of famous people down through the years. Lou Gehrig said as he left baseball in 1939, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” General Douglas McArthur as he left the Philippines, “I shall return.” And when he resigned from the military, “And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away . . .”
And there have been some notable farewells by fictional characters. Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca, “Isla, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Some day you’ll understand that. Now, now. Here’s looking at you kid.” And I can’t repeat what Rhett Butler said in his final words in Gone with the Wind.
Perhaps the greatest farewell of all time is that given by Jesus Christ in Matt. 28:18-20 when he said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” In this famous farewell address, Jesus makes a great claim, gives a command, provides a method and ends with a promise.
I. The Claim
A. All authority has been given me in heaven and on earth.
1. Dan. 7:13-14 . . . Daniel’s vision, “One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him.
3. Eph. 1:20-22 . . . Jesus’ authority given to him by God . . . “when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet
II. The Command.
A Make Disciples.
A disciple is one who accepts a teaching not only in mind but in life. He believes and imitates. A truth learned must be practiced. A disciple of Christ, talks like Christ, walks like Christ and acts like Christ. What was the mission of Christ on the earth? He said as he ate with Zachaeus in Luke 19:10, “The son of man has come to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus did not come to reform the world but to save the world from sin. Jesus said in John 8:31, “if you abide in my word then you are truly disciples of mind. The role of the Christian in society is not to clothe the naked, build homes for the poor and care for the sick. The role of the church is not to be socially active in order to eliminate the great social problems of our day. The role of the church is to “disciple.” Take the good news of the gospel to the lost so that they will become disciples, their lives will be changed and through their changed lives, the world will be changed. A changed world does not produce changed lives, rather, changed lives produce a changed world. The church has certainly changed the world through its charitable efforts, but these efforts should never become an end to themselves but rather a means to an end: the goal of bringing the world to Christ.
B. Of all the nations.
1. John 3:16 . . . “For God so loved the WORLD.”
2. Acts 1:8 . . . “You shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
3. Rom. 1:14 . . . “I am under obligation both the Greeks and barbarians, bot to the wise and to the foolish.
III. The method.
A. “Going therefore . . .”
The word “go” is a participle. Literally it says, “Going therefore . . .” The idea is that as we go about our daily lives, we are to take the gospel to anyone we meet, to anyone who will listen to us. We are not so much commanded to go as we are commanded to disciple while we are going!