HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
THE COMMISSION FROM THE KING
We come this morning, with a message of hope through the Gospel of Matthew. And what a journey it has been serving the Lord! I certainly hope it won’t be your last time to hear from me this wonderful Gospel because it has revealed so much to us about Jesus Christ.
I learned many years ago that I ought to read from the Gospels at least once a day. “God the Father is daily conforming us into the image of the Saviour,” I was told them; “and it’s in the Gospels that we see what the Saviour is like.” And as we’ve heard many messages through the Gospel of Matthew together, I truly hope that—by the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit—we truly have all learned much together about what our wonderful Saviour is like.
The particular purpose of the Gospel of Matthew has been to present Jesus Christ to us as the long-ago-promised, long-awaited King of the Jews. It began in the first chapter by giving us His Royal Pedigree. It went on to teach us, in chapters 2-4, about His Royal preparation. In chapters 5-7, we were given His Royal precepts in The Sermon on The Mount. Chapters 8-20 is where we find His Royal personality put on display for us through the stories of His ministry and His teaching. Chapters 21-26 tell of His progress toward the city of Jerusalem—and of His rejection as King by the Jewish people. In chapter 27, we’re told of the cross where He died—bearing the title over His head, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS” (27:37).
The final chapter presents Him to us alive from the dead as our resurrected Redeemer. And it’s in the last few verses this chapter that we find King Jesus giving His final command to His subjects before returning to the Father. It’s a passage that we’ve come to know as “the Great Commission”:
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “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 of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:16-20).
If you were to sum-up the Great Commission, it would be through those five words found verse 19—”Make disciples of every nation”. A “disciple”, simply put, is a devoted student who follows an esteemed teacher closely so that he could learn how to imitate him. And the task of the Great Commission is to proclaim Jesus to people who don’t yet believe on Him, lead them to place their faith in Him and to invite them to become His devoted followers.
There are lots of other things that we as a church could do in this world—and they may, to a limited degree, be good and beneficial things to do. And there’s certainly a lot of things that the people of this world think the church on earth ought to do. But there’s really only one great task that King Jesus has commissioned His church on earth to do—only one great endeavour that He will bless; and that, under His sovereign hand, will do the most to bless this world. It’s summed up in that simple phrase, “Make disciples of every nation”.
Now; I don’t know what you think might be important in life to do. But I don’t believe there’s anything else you could possibly do that is greater than your part in the work of the Great Commission! Nothing else could have the greatest impact for good, and nothing else could be as rewarding to do! Whatever else your secondary calling in life may be, my dear brothers and sisters; your first calling is to fulfil the Great Commission to make disciples of every nation! You have great meaning and significance in this world! You are called by the Son of God to do your part in the greatest, most meaningful, most world-transforming enterprise in all of human history—that of making disciples of Jesus Christ! You and I ought to be thrilled!
But when you hear the Great Commission, maybe you’re a little more like the eleven disciples where at the time when they first heard it. Some, we’re told, “doubted”—or better, “hesitated” and “wavered”. It’s not only the greatest task that this world has ever seen, but it’s also the most overwhelming! How could you or I possibly be adequate for such a task? Who could even know where to begin?
That’s why I believe this very last passage in our study is worth our careful attention. In it, the Lord Jesus Christ not only gives us the commission but also Himself tells us the provision He has made for our being able to keep it. This passage tells us how we have been divinely equipped by King Jesus for the work of spreading His kingdom.
Now; when we read of this great task, one of the first things that might come to our minds is the fact of how unwelcome the gospel of Jesus Christ is in this world. When we hear that King Jesus calls us—His subjects—to go out and make disciples of “every nation”, we can’t help but think of how many “nations” reject His rule, and have closed their doors to the work of the spread of the gospel. And it’s not just nations. Many places and institutions within our own culture are openly hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ, have effectively slammed the door against it, and have said, “Not here! Access denied!”
But notice that, before He gives the Great Commission, our Lord says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (v. 18). And this means that no door may rightly be shut against us in our work of going out to fulfil the Great Commission, because . . .
Praise be to Almighty God our Father. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us to the very end of time.