Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
The great commission to evangelize the world is not given as a whole in any one of the Gospels, but we need to take all related passages in the three Synoptics and in Acts 1 to get it in its entirety. There are different aspects of the commission which are emphasized in each place. Then, in addition, we have the Lord’s command to the eleven as given in John 20. These all agree in this: that it is our responsibility to carry the message of grace to all men everywhere, while we wait for our Lord to return, according to His promise. Matthew puts the emphasis on the kingdom—calling all men to become disciples of the Lord Jesus and proclaim their allegiance by baptism into the name of the holy trinity. Mark stresses the importance of faith on the part of those who carry the message, which was to be authenticated by “signs following.” Luke, both in the Gospel and the Acts, links the subjective with the objective—repentance on the part of the sinner, forgiveness on the part of God. John dwells on the authority of the risen Christ who commissions His servants to proclaim remission of sins to all who believe, and retention of sins to those who spurn the message.
But all alike declare the urgency and the importance of carrying the witness-testimony, the proclamation of the gospel, into all the nations of the world in the shortest possible time.
I hear the footfalls of God’s mighty hosts
Whom He is sending all the earth abroad;
Like them let me be busy for His cause,
Always and all for God.
Full soon will come to us the harvest-time,
The reaping of the seed that here we strawed;
Oh, then we’ll not regret we spent earth’s spring,
Always and all for God!
—A. B. Simpson
H. A. Ironside, The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1994), 177.