“The Great Commission”
The commandment that we often hear referred to as the “Great Commandment” is found in the four gospels (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; & John 20:21), and repeated in Acts (1:8). Each gospel writer records it a little differently, but it always boils down to the same message; Mark 16:15, “And He said unto them, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’”
What was so important about this commandment that it was repeated so many times? What can we learn from it? Was it a command meant just for the ones spoken to, or is it meant for us, also?
Let’s start by looking at the commandment and to whom it was spoken. It is a short and very straightforward command. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Sometimes though, we can find more in a verse than what a surface level reading gives us.
To me, the greatest part of the command is stated in the second half of the sentence; “preach the gospel”. What were they to do? They were to preach the gospel. That is, they were to go about spreading the good news of Jesus Christ!
The first part might not have been the “greatest” part of the command, but it had the greatest effect on us. What was this part of the commandment? “Go ye into all the world” and “to every creature.” Why was this part of the commandment? Why did it have the greatest effect on us?
Until this time, the disciples were limited in their preaching. They were to focus on the Jews, to start with. Romans 1:16 tells us that salvation was for “the Jew first.” Acts 26:20 says, “But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea.” There are other verses that tell us the gospel was first taught to the Jews, and if you would like to know more of them please feel free to ask!
Therefore, other commandments in the New Law, before this command, are seen as “limited’, and this one is seen as “great”, because this commandment opens the scope of preaching the gospel to the entire world. Jews and Gentiles! Before this command, the gospel had only been taught in Judaea. That is why I said the first part of the commandment had the greatest effect on us. This is where Christ opened the Gentile world so that the disciples could spread the gospel to it. No “Great Commission” and we do not have the gospel taught to us, in our lands.
Now, was the “Great Commission” a onetime command meant just for those disciples, or is it still meant for us today? Just looking at it logically, those disciples could not have gone into all the known world and preached to every creature, themselves. Therefore, it stands to reason they were to lead others to Christ, creating other disciples, who would also join in “The Great Commission.”
As the population spread, there would be continued need for the spreading of the gospel. Add to that population spread, the never-ending addition of new people being born every year, and we have a never-ending need of disciples to continue “The Great Commission.” So, it falls to us to continue to “preach the gospel to every creature,” sharing with them the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.