The Four “Alls” of the Great Commission

Jesus left us with a command and a promise.

Ask any Christian about the biblical basis for missions, and most of them will point to Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations.” These famous last words from Matthew 28 comprise what we know as the Great Commission.

“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, ESV).

When we look closely at this passage, we see Jesus uses almost the same word four different times: the word all.

Consider these four “alls” of Christ’s commission:

  • All authority”
  • To go to “all nations”
  • To communicate “all his teaching”
  • Empowered by his presence “all the time” (translated always)

Don’t miss the claims — they’re Bible basics, but they’re enormous!

Jesus claims to have all authority in the universe to lead us on this journey. He claims that his teaching is the most important thing in life to follow. Therefore, he claims that all nations need to know his teaching. And last but not least, he claims that he will be with us for all time.

When many of us think about becoming a missionary, we see the obstacles — both known and unknown — facing us. Move halfway around the world to live among people who might not want us there and might never care about the message we bring? That’s a scary proposition! We can let fear crowd out our faith.

But pause for a moment and soak in this Great Commission passage. Let the four “alls” speak peace to your heart. Jesus spoke these words to give us a task and to give us courage in the task.

The Great Commission isn’t about marketing Jesus. No matter how eloquently (or not) you proclaim the good news, gospel salesmanship won’t bring the least-reached into God’s kingdom. These “alls” remind us that the burden isn’t on us but on the One with authority.

What is on us, however, is the obligation to obey Jesus’ command.

Many of us look for confirmation in a “calling.” But Jesus didn’t call some (or any) of his followers to his mission. Rather, he called them to himself and sent them on mission. If you’re walking with Jesus, this Great Commission command is incumbent on you.

Think of it as an implied fifth “all” — a command for all believers. Every disciple must be a disciple-maker, whether God sends you down the street or to the other side of the world.

As you go — to school, to work, to the grocery store, and to the gym — live and love like Jesus. Be confident in his authority. Teach his commands. Abide in his presence.

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