I once foolishly told a friend that I had about ten sermons in my head from Matthew 28.18-20. I retracted and said, “Well, maybe five sermons.” I really do not know how many sermons I will preach from that text in my lifetime, but I thought first I would explain why I think God wanted that text to be fairly centralized in our minds:
- It is at the end of the first book of the New Testament- of course the order of books is not inspired necessarily, but there is major agreement among Spirit-empowered believers that it should appear first.
- Though I do not believe the end of Mark is inspired, believers added an ending to that gospel that is very similar to Matthew 28, either through what they remember Jesus saying or what had been passed down orally or through some other means. The uninspired text gives Matthew 28.18-20 more power.
- Luke seems to think the heart of the Great Commission is important as well- Luke 24.36-49 has very similar elements to Matthew 28.16-20. Both include a level of doubt from the disciples, an authoritative response from Jesus, the idea of sending them out to all nations, the name of Jesus being proclaimed, and a promise to be with them in Spirit.
- Luke thinks it is so important that he repeats this Great Commission heart in Acts 1.8- there again is Holy Spirit companionship and the testimony to all nations. Perhaps most obvious of all is that all three passages are from the mouth of Jesus as a command/commission.
- The book of Acts is the Great Commission lived out- think about Matthew 28.18-20. All authority belongs to Jesus, make disciples of all nations, baptizing into His name, teaching exhaustive obedience, promise to be with the disciples (assuming in the Holy Spirit of Christ). And think about Acts. Jesus proclaimed as the exalted one, the gospel going out to Gentile nations, the emphasis on baptism in the name of Jesus, devotion to the Apostles’ teaching, Spirit-empowerment throughout.
For those reasons, I have multiple meditations from this passage, and will try to share them over time. By God’s grace, I already got to preach one at the end of 2009 at Kailua Baptist Church.