Thursday 30 May 2024

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (v. 19)

Matthew 28:16-20 Thursday 30 May 2024

Psalm 150

This passage consists of the final words of Matthew’s Gospel and are usually titled ‘the Great Commission’. The scene takes place on a mountain, as so many other important parts of Matthew’s Gospel do – the Sermon on the Mount, the Transfiguration and Jesus’ final discourse on the Mount of Olives. Mountain tops also figure prominently in the Old Testament.

Surprisingly, although some disciples were happy to worship Jesus, we read that others doubted or hesitated. Jesus states that he has authority, which is not based on worldly standards. It is because he is the son of God and has passed through death to life.

Jesus commissions his disciples to carry on his work of spreading God's kingdom and this is a threefold commission. Firstly, they should make disciples not just from among the Jews, or from among people who lived around the Mediterranean Sea, but from all nations. Everyone should be reached with the message of the good news of Jesus. This is the reason that this passage is seen as the foundational statement for the missionary movement.

Secondly, the disciples should baptise new believers as baptism is a public act in which people commit themselves to a new life and it recalls Jesus’ own baptism.

The third task of the disciples is to teach or instruct new followers, using Jesus’ teaching as recorded in the gospels.

All this was pretty difficult to do – perhaps that is why some of the disciples hesitated. However, Jesus' final words according to Matthew are a promise that he will be with them until the end of time. What a tremendous promise to give to his 1st century disciples and all subsequent ones!

To Ponder:

  • This passage was the major inspiration for the missionary movement of the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain, Europe and North America. The movement has been criticised for its imperialism and cultural insensitivity. On balance, do you think that this missionary movement’s impact was largely positive or predominantly negative?
  • We live in a multi-faith country in a multi-faith world. How should we understand and carry out the Great Commission in this context?


Almighty heavenly God, we thank you for our ancestors in faith who through their dedication passed on the faith down the generations even to us. Give us grace to carry out your Great Commission in our own time. Amen.

Bible notes author: The Revd Jennifer Potter
Jennifer is a supernumerary minister living in the Croydon Circuit. She works as a part-time chaplain at the local MHA (Methodist Home for the Aged). She was previously a minister at Wesley’s Chapel in London.

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