What Makes the Great Commission So Great: The Assistance Christ Gives

Posted by R. Fowler White

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.” (Matt 28:18-20)

According to Matthew 28, the third of the truths that makes the Great Commission so great is the assistance Christ gives, the presence He provides. Look again at 28:20b, And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew tells us that Christ the King, as He executes His office and pursues His agenda, is God with us. He is our Immanuel. He is the ever-present help of His followers. Our King is also our Priest.

Knowing Christ as Immanuel is evidently vital to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. In Matthew 24-25 Jesus had taught that the spread of the gospel to the nations will bring the spread of tribulation and persecution to the nations. From His first coming to His second coming, there will be intensifying pressure on His church to apostatize as “the days of Noah” and “the days of Lot” return to the earth. Tribulation and persecution will bear the fruit of apostasy and betrayal. False prophecy will multiply in deception. Lawlessness will increase. Culture will suffer corruption. All of these developments are enough to instill fear in those to whom Christ has entrusted the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But He tells us, “Don’t be afraid. I am with you always, to the end of the age.

These words remind us of God’s words to Joshua before the conquest of the nations in the Promised Land. You remember the story. Moses was now dead. It was understandable that Joshua and the people would tremble, be afraid, be dismayed. But what were the Lord’s words to Joshua? Arise, go over this Jordan … No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. … Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Josh 1:2, 5, 9). Notice what the Lord does here. As He commands Joshua and the nation to obey His commission to take possession of the Promised Land, He recognizes that they may tremble, be afraid, be dismayed. But they are to recognize that He who had given them His commission is He who makes them a promise: He promises them His presence and His assistance to fulfill His commission. They could recall how, at the end of his life, a dying Moses had communicated this same commission to go into the land of foreign nations, to bring those nations under dominion of their God, and to observe all the commandments in the Law, with the promise of His presence and assistance. Even so, as we reflect on the end of His earthly ministry, we find that the living and resurrected Jesus, the one who is greater than Moses and Joshua, gave His commission to His apostles and His church to go into all the earth to bring all nations under His lordship, and to teach them to observe all His commandments, with the promise of His presence.

Jesus, the new Joshua, who commands our obedience to His Great Commission is at the same time the ever-gracious God who provides us His presence and assistance to fulfill it. He is the Commander of the hosts of heaven who defends us and restrains all of His and our enemies. He is the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls who preserves and supports us under all our temptations and sufferings. And at the end of this age He is the Judge who will deal with those who refuse to yield to Him and to obey His gospel.

What is it that makes the Great Commission so great? Not only the authority Christ exercises and the agenda Christ has set, but also the assistance Christ gives us. As we spread the gospel to the nations and tribulation and persecution spread with it, the Lord Jesus who has given us His commission has promised us His presence and His assistance to fulfill His commission. Echoing the gist of God’s words to Joshua and Israel, He says to us, Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

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