What was Christ’s last command on earth to His Church*?
“All authority in heaven* and on earth has been given to me. So go and make disciples* of all nations. Baptize* them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit*. Teach them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”
Jesus* was alive again! His disciples saw him. Peter* saw him. Mary Magdalene* saw him. More than 500 people saw him too. And he stayed and taught his disciples for 40 days. Just before he went back to be with the Father, he met with his disciples on a mountain. As they listened, Jesus gave them this command.
He tells them what he wants them to do after he leaves them and after he sends the Holy Spirit. But first, he tells them that God the Father has given him authority over all things. He rules all things in heaven and on the earth. He wants them to know that he has everything under his control and he rules it all. There is not one place in heaven or on earth where he is not King.
So, what he is going to say comes as a command. But it also gives them confidence. They are going to do what he asks as people who are carrying out the orders of the King. And he gives them authority and power to do what he commands.
A few days later, Jesus would send them the Holy Spirit. The Spirit* would give them the power to do what Jesus commands. They would be able to tell people about Jesus. They would start with the people who were close to them. Then they would take the good news about Jesus from one end of the earth to the other.
So, Jesus’ command is to go and make disciples. A disciple is a person that follows and learns from someone. Jesus called men and women to follow him and learn from him. Now the men and women who followed him are to call people to follow Jesus. Jesus is now going to do his work through his disciples and the Holy Spirit will help them.
Jesus tells them that they must baptize these new disciples and then teach them. When people hear the good news about Jesus and believe in him, they are to be baptized. This is the sign to all who see it that this man or woman has decided to follow Jesus. This is the first step in becoming a disciple of Jesus: repent* and believe.
Then Jesus tells the disciples to teach new believers* all that Jesus had told them. And he wanted them to show new believers how to obey those things.
As we read the scriptures,* we find out how the disciples did this. Those who had been with Jesus taught other men and women. And they learned how to put these things into practice as they shared their lives together. They learned and ‘helped each other to love other people and do good.’ All that they learned, they put into practice in their lives. They did this as a community.*
Jesus’ command is for us too. Every follower* of Jesus must share Jesus everywhere he or she goes. And we do not only share the news. We are to urge and encourage people to believe it. When they do, they become a part of the community of Christ followers. When we help people learn to follow Jesus, we are not only to teach what Jesus said. We must also teach them to know how to live the way Jesus lived.
Jesus wanted them to see that they were to take the gospel* to every nation. This does not only mean to the nations that we can see on a map. It means to every group of people. When John* wrote the last book of the Bible,* he told us about a vision* that God gave him. God showed him many things that would happen in the future. In this dream, he saw a great crowd of people. There were so many that he could not count them. These were all of the people who had believed in Jesus. And John says that there were people there ‘from every nation and from every tribe* and from every kind of people and from every language.’ Jesus wants all people everywhere to hear the good news and come to him.
What Jesus told us to do will not be easy. When we live for him and speak for him, some people will not welcome us. Some may even hate us and make things difficult for us. But Jesus says that we are not to let this stop us. And we are not to worry. He will be with us everywhere we go, in this life and in the life to come.