“Go therefore into all the world and make disciples.” This is the version of the Great Commission that many of us memorized. However, it leaves out a great deal. To begin with, it leaves out the whole rationale for the commission in the first place. Although it sounds a little corny, a good rule of thumb in reading the Scriptures is that whenever you find a “therefore” you need to stop and ask “what it’s there for.”
When we see an imperative such as “Go therefore,” we need to go back and look at what has already been said leading up to it. There is no reason for us to go into all the world as Christ’s ambassadors apart from the work that he has already accomplished.
The Great Commission actually begins with the declaration, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). This is the rationale for everything the church is called to do and to be. The church’s commission is indeed directed by a purpose (“making disciples of all nations”), but it is driven by a promise ……………….
The church’s mission is grounded in God’s mission, which he fulfilled objectively in his Son and whose subjective effects he is bringing about in the world through his Spirit. Because the Father sent the Son and then the Spirit, we are sent into all the world with his gospel…..
And God is the original missionary. He was a missionary in creation: speaking the world into being by his Word, in the power of his Spirit. Adam was commissioned to bring the whole earth under submission to God’s righteous rule, but he forfeited this calling. Israel too was called out by God as “a light to the Gentiles.” Yet, “like Adam, Israel transgressed the covenant” (Hos. 6:7). In the fullness of time, however, the Father sent the Son into the world to save sinners. In his post-resurrection appearances to the disciples, Jesus not only preached himself as the center of Scripture (Luke 24:27, 44), he made their proclamation of him part of that mission as well: “‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem'” (vv. 45-47). And after his ascension, the Son together with the Father sent the Spirit at Pentecost. God’s mission, of course, is qualitatively distinct from ours. The triune God is the Redeemer; we are the redeemed. But the redeemed are given the privilege of participating in God’s mission to the world by proclaiming the gospel, administering the sacraments, and caring for the expanding flock of Christ.