Imagine that you’re starting a movement. You’ve spent several years with your followers, leaving them to carry on in your name. They’ll remember your last words, so the instructions you leave them need to be straightforward and foundational. This is what makes the Great Commission so important. It’s Jesus’ final command before ascending into heaven.
Matthew expresses the Great Commission this way:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20).
Here are seven reasons why this command is of paramount importance to Christians all over the world.
1. The Great Commission is a matter of obedience
In John 14:15, the Lord tells His disciples, “If you love Me, keep my commands.” As followers of Jesus, we see obedience as an expression of our love and devotion. Our obedience isn’t just for His sake, but also for ours. We grow as followers of Jesus by living lives of obedience to His commandments.
2. The Great Commission is how God’s kingdom grows
By going into the whole world to share the story of Jesus, we allow all people to experience repentance and faith. As people experience the life-changing impact of Jesus’ ministry and take the Great Commission seriously, the gospel spreads exponentially.
3. The Great Commission fulfills Old Testament prophecy
The Old Testament is full of prophecies about the coming Messiah. At one point, God speaks to Israel through the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
The Great Commission facilitates this prophecy.
4. The Great Commission is an expression of loving compassion
If you knew where your dying neighbor could get life-saving medication, would you tell them? Of course you would! Why wouldn’t you want to tell them how to be reconciled with God and have a relationship with Jesus? We demonstrate our love and concern for others by obeying the Great Commission.
5. The Great Commission is a declaration of God’s heart
In 1 Timothy, we are told that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). It’s God’s loving desire to reconcile humanity to Himself, and the Great Commission plays an integral role in His plan.
6. The Great Commission transforms lives and communities
There is more to sharing the gospel than simply creating converts. Discipleship transforms lives, helping people conform to the image of Christ. And as the gospel changes hearts, it changes communities, offering hope and light to all.
7. The Great Commission continues Jesus’ work
The letter to Ephesians tells us that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). The work that Jesus prepared for us to do is a continuation of His own work. We don’t simply receive the gospel; it’s a work Jesus calls us to participate in.
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