The Great Commission

Jackson Snyder, April 10, 1994

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Apostleship means that one is authorized with a mission, then sent to fulfill that mission.  "Apostle" in the koine Greek means one sent on a mission.  Jesus was an apostle to humanity, authorized by God, and sent to proffer the tools of redemption to humanity.

   That means that he came to make new apostles - to reproduce himself - in order that there might eventually be multiplied millions who would hear his voice through the voice of his chosen ones.

   Tonight we'll study the "Great Commission" to discover that our apostleship and mission in the contemporary world has not changed from the mission of the very first apostles.


Mat 28:18-20 (NRSV) "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. {19} Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." 

Herein we find a three-fold message that is as fresh and vital today as it was in the wake of Jesus' resurrection from the dead.  We have a premise, a principle, and a promise.


"All authority has been given me" is the PREMISE behind the command to GO!

  1) Authority = "power over, power in, and power within" authorized by a higher power - the God of Creation; "All power" belongs to Jesus', (who fulfilled mission), and is available to us.

  2) Godly authority is "authority which can be trusted."  Unlike the authority of policial systems, religious organizations, and principalities and powers of       the air, the power of Jesus can be trusted, he is benevolent love incarnate, he cares!

  3) Jesus authority encompasses all heaven & earth - "from beyond the Pleiades to beyond this galaxy his love, presence, and power resides - from the greatest historical happening that the world has ever seen to the shedding of a widow's tear at midnight -  Nothing is beyond his authority; nothing goes without notice; everything is significant; and every person is important."


Jesus, the all-powerful renders a PRINCIPLE: "Go and make disciples"

Notice the similarity between this and Sunday night's text:

Mat 11:28 {27} "All things have been delivered to me by my Father.... {28} Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."

  1) Go / going:  Greek poreuthentes  - Literally: "Therefore [while] going, disciple all the nations...."

  2) By Jesus' use of 'going,' we realize disciplemaking in terms of vocation <> to occupation; = vocation means calling;

            a) Paul "I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to lead a life worthy of the vocation to which you were called" (Eph 4:1 NJB).

            b) Paul's vocation was that of prisoner, and his imprisonment the vehicle for his disciplemaking 

            c) Each called to a vocation within which we make disciples; our vocation constitutes our apostleship!  In fact, we are authorized, and sent "on a mission from God" to wherever we are going.  And this is our co -mission: that, while going, we make disciples

  3) The scope of effort -

            a) is not limited to baptizing and teaching - these are what Jesus' disciples were apprenticed in.  Rather - "Do whatever you do to the glory of God." 

            b) Neither is it limited to any place - to all ethnoi  "Since Jesus has received all power, and we are his followers and surrogates here in our world at our time, then it follows that Jesus will be with us wherever we go and whatever we do."

  4) The methods of our efforts: Do the deed; Share the story; Name the name


His promise is "I am with you always"

  1) How so?  Take the PROMISE seriously, then willfully try to become aware of that presence.  Miracles will happen!  "I'm still convinced," says mother Teresa, "that it is Jesus and not I.  That's why I am not afraid [to die]; I knew that if the work was mine it would die with me.  But I knew it was His work, that it will live and bring much good.... If the work is looked at just by our own eyes and only from our own way, naturally, we ourselves can do nothing.  But in Christ we can do all things.  That's why this work has become possible, because we are convinced that it is He, He who is working with us and through us in the poor and for the poor." The Living Jesus is with her and makes his presence know to her and through her.

  2) The travelers to Emmaus - met Jesus in the breaking of bread

            When we are with him by faith, "he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own, and the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known."  - We begin with eyes of faith to recognize his presence in our vocations and in our lives!

  3) If we were constantly on the high plain of awareness, our nerves would be jangled!  That is why Christ ever-present in subconscious - but he rises to consciousness, as we allow him to rise.  (spiritual disciplines)

  3) The scope of our togetherness is eternal, intimate and infinite. 

            a) He promised, "Remember, I will be with you until the end," one day we will no longer see him merely with eyes of faith

            b) intimate (love letter story?)

            c) "He is with us now to the degree that we allow him to enter in, minister to us, fellowship with us, and empower us.  He is here now."


CONCLUSION:  The disciples revered the Living Jesus in awe on the mountaintop that day, yet some were so hard of heart that, though he appeared in all his glory, some yet doubted. 

            O you who still doubt!  Can't you feel his presence here today?  Must he come down in his glory just for you?  Must he die again for you?  Must he endure the betrayal and treachery of hell again for you?

            Who can proclaim like the women at the tomb, "We have seen him!" 

            Or as the heavenly messenger: "He is risen just like he said." 

All authority is his!  Let us surrender our lives to him, for his is an authority that can be trusted!  Let us go into our vocations with a new intention, to make disciples for him!  Let us share the good news!  Let us indulge ourselves in his presence and love.  Let us become his, and let him become ours! 

   One morning early an elderly man walked down the beach with a cane, looking for what the tide had left behind.  Once in a while he'd bend to pick something up then toss it into the ocean.  He was looking for starfish.  Every time he saw one in the sand, he would gently pick it up and toss it back into the surf. 

   I asked him why he was doing this.  He told me, "The starfish are left behind when the tide rolls out.  If starfish don't get back into the ocean they'll dry up and die in the sun."

   "But there are endless miles of beach, and millions of starfish," I said.  "You can't save them all.  What difference can you possibly make?"

   Slowly the old man bent over and picked up another starfish. As he chucked it into ocean he looked at me and said, "It makes a difference to that one."  (An apostle to starfish)

   Each one Jesus puts in our path is of great value to our Lord.  We are called for a purpose - it is our vocation to be faithful in scanning those "beaches" and in making a difference to "that one" and "that one" and "that one" in the name of Christ.



Take my job and make it yours;

Pounding nails or scrubbing floors.

Take my mind and make it one;

With the purpose of your Son.

Take my occupation, Lord;

Make it my vocation, Lord

Let me show someone your way

When I go to work today.

I'll share the story of my Lord

With whom I work in one accord.

And in my faith I'll do a deed

To help convince a friend in need.

I'll name your name, the name above all names,

through which I make my claims.

Yes, take my occupation, Lord;

Make it my vocation, Lord.


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