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Missions Globally - Matthew 28:16-20, 9:35-38

Updated on March 26, 2018
Pastor Kev profile image

I am an adopted son of the Lord, a husband of a beautiful wife, father of three amazing P's, and a discipleship pastor in South Carolina.


Division #1: We are to make disciples.

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Every Christian is called to be a disciple. We lead off this week’s study with that fact. This passage does not say “Now that you have become a Christian, you have a choice. You can just sit, soak, and sour; or if you decide to, you can become radically changed and go On Mission.” Jesus’ words are crystal clear, “Go and make disciples”, and since He is already talking to disciples, the text is clear that disciples are to make disciples that make disciples that make disciples that make disciples…… repeated to infinity.

Disciples are supposed to learn Jesus’ commands. We cannot teach others to follow Jesus if we don’t know Him ourselves, and we cannot teach other people how to follow and be like Jesus if we do not know His commands. Disciples spend time in Jesus’ Word, the Bible, learning and internalizing His instructions, knowing Him better, learning Him, so that we can in turn share Him with others. If we know Jesus’ words, then we can also study what words He used, and what words He did not. He did not say “go and make converts” did He? He wants us to share the plan of His Salvation with the world. But He does not want us to merely be a baptizing station or a turnstile, bringing in the lost and after they are saved, abandon them. Heaven forbid. Jesus wants us to share Salvation, let the Holy Spirit do His work, and then He wants us to disciple them. We would not hand car keys to a four year old and send them off on to the Interstate. They wouldn’t make it back. It is the recipe for disaster, and it is irresponsible. He wants us to train them, so they can then go out in the world and train others.

Francis Chan illustrates the difference between intellectual knowledge and being a disciple: “When I was young we played Simon Says. All of us have played it. Someone would say, ‘Simon says’ and we did it. But when ‘Jesus says,’ in church, we act like ‘You don’t have to do it… you just have to study it and memorize it.’ If I tell my daughter to clean her room, she doesn’t come back in an hour and say, ‘Okay Dad, I memorized what you told me to do. I can even quote it in the Greek.’ She does it! If we just read the Scripture and follow what it says, we would make disciples. We would obey.”

Many people have the impression that a mature Christian is the one who has the most biblical or theological knowledge. However, a mature disciple is the one who simply does what Christ says. Personally, my problem is not that I do not know enough of God’s word. I already know far more than I obey. While knowledge is important, what’s even more essential is for a follower of Jesus is to obey!

Often Christians also think of discipleship as a regular meeting or a course of study. They might offer this explanation: “Discipleship is when older Christians meet with younger Christians, teaching them and investing in their lives.” While this is a valuable experience, unless a person is growing in obedience to Christ’s commands, he or she is not really participating in discipleship. Discipleship is not a program of information; it is a lifestyle of learning that results in obedience to Christ.

But don’t take my words or Francis Chan’s words for it; let’s look at what Jesus himself said about being a disciple.

John 13:35 - By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 8:31 - To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said,

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

John 15:8 - This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,

showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Luke 14:27 - And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Here at BSFBC we have an intentional Discipleship program. After the staff, pastors and deacons, we have roughly 80 men and women who have completed the discipleship process, and in the past month we have had over 90 people enroll in the next round of discipleship training. The expectation is that after completing the discipleship course, each person who has been discipled will disciple someone else, and continue to do so. Take a look at the chart to the right,

Today = 80

1 year = 160

2 years = 320

5 years = 2,560

10 years = 81,920

15 years = 2,621,440

20 years = 83,886,080

30 years = 10,737,418,240

and keep in mind the population of the world is about 7 billion. (7,000,000,000) If we were to continue to do this and disciple one person per year, if they and we continue we could disciple more people than the entire population of the world in less than 30 years; that’s shorter than a standard mortgage.

People give weight to a person’s last words, and these verses are exactly that. Jesus was telling us this, as He prepared to ascend to the Father, and these were the most important “last words” ever spoken in history!

1: Every Christian is called to be a disciple making disciple.

Application Question: Have I ever been intentionally discipled? Have I ever intentionally disciple another believer? What steps can I take to be active in this?

Division #2: We are to go “On Mission” to every nation.

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Another point of these verses is that we are to go to all nations. It is a good exercise to trace this word “nations” back to its Greek origin. The word used is ethnos (pronounced eth’-nos) and it means a race of people or people from the same habitat. This tells us that we should not be thinking about missions by what country we go to, but by the individual tribes or habitats. (Boy that opens it up, huh?) Instead of our target being the 196 known “Nations” of the world today, our target, given the correct translation of the word, is roughly the 16,765 known people groups identified by the Joshua Project. Wow, that’s a lot of groups of people.

But are we sure that’s what we are supposed to do? Jesus also is very clear in His command to go. Let’s look at something that was not said. Jesus did not say, “Therefore, if you don’t know the language or the culture, just give money so others can go.” This sentence is nowhere in the Bible, but so many Christians live and act like it is. While we are commanded to tithe, and while the early church did collect offerings for missions, the early church and its members went too. If we are fluent in a language, completely understand the culture, have that culture as our native one, that is helpful, but we could possibly operate under our own power while we do missions. But that is not usually how the Holy Spirit works, He asks that we allow Him to put us in positions were we are weak but He is strong. Sure He gives us our spiritual gifts, but He works in our weakness. Romans 8:26a says In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. He is specifically talking about prayer here, but it applies to other parts of our lives as well. God proves how big He is when He uses us in our weakness.

Sometimes God even makes us wait until we are weak before He uses us. Look at Moses. When we get to the point that we wonder what we would do when His promise is fulfilled, that is when He works. That was where Moses was when the Lord could use him. He was eighty years old and saw the task was more difficult than he could bear. He argued and argued with the Lord. He had all sorts of excuses. When the Lord had Moses at his weakest, he was prepared; Moses was not able in his own strength to perform any part of what God wanted him to do. Moses did it according to the will of God. So too is our work with missions. Going where we don’t speak the language and don’t understand the culture is where God shows His power. That is when God uses us, so that nobody but God gets the glory!

So what does God tell us about going to all the nations? In Acts 1, after Jesus had risen from the grave, He was talking with the disciples and He told them “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He first said that we are not to go in our own power, but go in the power of the Holy Spirit. How important is it for us to do that first? Missions would mean nothing if we went in our own power. Everything we do, we do in Jesus’ name, because it is by His power we do everything. He is the only life changing power there is. Jesus also broke down specifically where we were to go, while we carry his message of Salvation. We are to go to our hometown, our region, our continent, and our entire world.

Too many people also falsely believe that we are not to go outside of our Jerusalem until it is completely reached, and then go to our Judea. To these people I might ask “OK, what have you done to go “On Mission” in your Jerusalem, or are you just using that as an excuse?” Too many times people say this just as an excuse to deny or sidestep Jesus command to “go”. This argument could not be farther from the truth. Jesus meant that the church was to reach all of these areas at the same time. We should be doing missions in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost simultaneously.

2: Christians are called to be a missionary, at the Holy Spirit’s leading, to all peoples of the world.

Application Question: How can I support or prepare to go “On Mission” to more than just my Jerusalem?

Division #3: Jesus is saddened by the need versus the size of the work force.

Matthew 9:35-38

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their Synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

If you look back at how the church has expanded since Jesus’ ascension into heaven, you will see a mixture of faithful individuals (and churches) and political and military might. In Europe, North Africa and Asia, the armies of Constantine spread Christianity by the spear. The political power of the Catholic Church went hand-in-hand with the colonizing might of various governments from the 1500’s. As a result, the Gospel spread around the world, but not necessarily through pure means. It is not always a pretty history, but God has used both the sacrificial and the selfish motives of man to make His name famous in the world.

Going back to the Greek word from our second division ethnos, God told Abram that his descendants would be a blessing to the ethnos. A term used a lot these days among mission strategists is “people group”. Joshua Project, a great resource for information about reaching the world for Christ, defines a people group as “a significantly large sociological grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have a common affinity with one another.”

Why should we be interested in people groups? Two reasons, primarily. First, if you want to get an idea of the spread of the Gospel, looking at people groups can be helpful. Joshua Project’s web site gives a great graphical view of how effectively the Gospel has spread among people groups around the world. The second reason is that mission strategists realize that information is transmitted most effectively when it is communicated in a way that is best understood by the people within these social clusters. In other words, even if a Hindu in India came across a Bible in English or entered a Christian church, the way the Gospel is presented might not make sense to him.

It is important that people in all ethne have access to the saving news of Jesus in a way that is accessible, understandable and attractive to them. Again, from Joshua Project: “For evangelization purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.”

As Jesus traveled, He saw first-hand the needs of the people around him. The words used to describe these people in the New International Version are harassed and helpless. We will take a quick look at these two words. The word harassed also has the meaning fatigued, faint or troubled. The attempts of the Jews to find Salvation through the laws, regulations, sacrifices and ceremonies instituted by their religious leaders, especially the Pharisees and Sadducees, had left them exhausted and mistreated. Helpless is also translated as scattered with the implication that the religious leaders of the time had abandoned the needs of the people and had left them on their own. As Matthew tells us, they were like “sheep without a shepherd.” In other words, the Jews were desperate for the life that only Jesus could offer. In response, Jesus had compassion on them. We see this response over and over in the Gospels.

The final picture to take from this lesson is that of Jesus’ heart. In verse 36, when Jesus saw the crowds, when He saw the “lostness”, it broke His heart. These were people who were made in His image, and He wants all men and women to come to faith in Him. When He sees lost people, it breaks His heart. Does it break ours? And when we see lost people of India, or lost people in Boiling Springs, do we genuinely want to let them know about the Jesus we know?

Jesus finishes this thought with a sad but accurate statement. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. That should convict us all that we are really not willing to follow His commands and reach the lost people. Jesus knows there are a lot of people who mean well, but when the rubber meets the road of going “On Mission” for Him, few people step forward. In Matthew 8:21 Jesus told of a disciple who said he wanted to follow Jesus, but when Jesus asked him to go, he made excuses. I can’t go “On Mission” for you because I have to go bury my father or I have to take care of things at work or I have to be here for my business. Jesus is not interested in excuses. When Jesus told Matthew to follow Him, Matthew stood up, left his business and his success behind, and followed Jesus regardless of the cost. Matthew knew the rewards of being obedient to Jesus commands far outweighed the human costs.

Jesus commanded us to make disciples, to go to all nations, and to have a heart for the “lostness” of the world. Will we let this command pass us by, or will we act on it, in blind faith and obedience to Jesus commands, and let Jesus work out the details?

3: People “On Mission” are part of the few, the happy few, living in obedience to Christ’s commands and in harmony to His heart.

Application Question: What is our church doing, and what am I doing to reach the lost people of Boiling Springs and around the world?


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