And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Growing up as a missionary kid and then attending a church well known for its emphasis on missions, I heard the Great Commission frequently. Yet, as often happens with my fallen mind, I only recently realized my view of the Great Commission lacked completion.
One day, as I came across the passage in my reading, the Spirit awakened my understanding. I saw the full commission for the first time!
It seems I always glanced over the end of the proclamation. My recollection ended with “I have commanded you” instead of “to the end of the age”. When I thought of the Great Commission, I thought of baptism, discipleship, and going to the ends of the earth for Jesus. I did not consider I would go to the ends of the earth with Jesus.
This distinction is crucial. Our power as missionaries does not come from us, but from Jesus. He embodies the authority we need and gives it to us as ministers of the good news. We can only accomplish what he commanded with him.
Once the shift in my understanding occurred, my eyes flew to the end of the passage. For days I meditated on the simple yet powerful phrase, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Wow, Jesus is with me always. A paramount truth.
As Matthew recounts, Jesus called the disciples to a missionary life. He calls you and me today to the same life, in whatever way that manifests itself for each of us. We may function as missionaries in our places of work, or in our family, or in our communities, or maybe in a different place or culture. Wherever and however you minister, Jesus promises to stay with you. And because he stays with you, you can fulfill the Great Commission.