27 April 2024

The great co-mission

Cadet Elizabeth Kitchenside

Cadet Elizabeth Kitchenside reminds us that Jesus instructs his followers to be involved in his mission.

Key text

Do you ever help your parents with chores around the house? Once, there was a young boy who felt such joy whenever his dad asked him to help wash the car. He would put on his wellies and scrub away with a soapy sponge. It was the highlight of his week.

Years later, the boy, now an adult, walked past a father attempting to wash a car with the help of his son, and memories came flooding back. However, this time, he saw the smears, scratches and soapy marks left by the child. He soon realised that all that time he spent ‘helping’ his dad as a youngster was no help at all! His heart sank. Later, he asked his father why he had let him help. The truth was his dad enjoyed the company of his much-loved son.

The same is true of our heavenly Father. Although God doesn’t need our help, he invites us to join in with his mission. Although we will make mistakes – and, sometimes, an absolute mess – God still chooses to work with us to show the world what fullness of life with him can look like.

In our study passage, Jesus shares that invitation to be involved in mission with his followers.

Before this, Jesus confirms his divine identity within the Trinity as he declares his lordship over all creation. These verses echo the prophetic words of Daniel 7:14, which speaks of a ruler given all power and authority, whose kingdom will never be destroyed. Throughout the Gospels we see this revelation of Jesus’ identity.

Jesus – the promised Messiah, and Lord of all creation – invites us to join in co-mission, hand in hand with our heavenly Father.

Pause and reflect

  • What does it mean for Jesus to be Lord in our lives and over all our circumstances?
  • Where do we see God’s mission at work in our world today?

It would be far more straightforward without our childlike mistakes. And yet, Jesus commands his disciples to: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (vv19 and 20).

A photo shows someone washing a car with a bright yellow sponge.

Matthew 28:20

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Read Matthew 28

I love the inclusive nature of this calling. Although it begins with a small group of disciples, they are called to go to ‘all nations’ – people of all ages, races and identities – and make disciples who will disciple others.

In these verses, one of Matthew’s favourite terms, ‘disciple’, is turned into a verb. Jesus teaches that being a disciple is not just a way of describing ourselves but is a way of living that will bring others closer to Christ.

Pause and reflect

  • How do we partner God in mission?
  • Where is God calling us to go and make disciples?
  • How can we ensure that all feel welcomed to become disciples and join in with God’s mission?

In Matthew’s Gospel, doubt is sometimes viewed negatively (see Matthew 8:26). In verse 17 of our study passage, however, Jesus makes room for those who doubt. His reassurance comes from the nature of who God is and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus reassures his disciples – and each of us as we seek to follow him – of God’s presence as he declares: ‘Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (v20). In doing so, Jesus reaffirms the promise made by the angel of the Lord to Joseph in Matthew 1:23 – that he is Immanuel, God with us.

Jesus’ model of discipleship emphasises the importance of spiritual baptism, teaching and reliance on the Holy Spirit. This threefold approach reminds us of our continuous journey as followers of Jesus.

We must encourage each other to make a conscious decision to follow him and experience the cleansing and life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. We also need to continually invest in our discipleship by teaching and learning from one another.

Pause and reflect

  • Can you identify moments of spiritual baptism in your journey of discipleship?
  • To what extent do you try to lead and disciple from your own strength, rather than relying on the power of the Holy Spirit?
  • How can you change this?

Perhaps we need to reflect on our need to receive a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our own lives. What do we need to allow him to do so that we might be better equipped for mission?

The Great Commission is an invitation from Jesus to join in the mission of God taking place all over the world. Despite being Lord of all creation, our loving Father’s inclusive call invites all people to join in with his great co-mission. He chooses to partner us, his children, and blesses us to bless those around us.

Although this passage brings Matthew’s Gospel to a climactic end, it is only the beginning of the story.

God’s mission continues to take place in our midst – in us and through us – by the promised power of the Holy Spirit.

Pause and reflect

  • Take time to meditate on the study passage and marvel at Jesus’ invitation.
  • How do you invest in your discipleship?
  • How can you invest in others’ discipleship?

Wherever we find ourselves this week, let us ensure that we are making space for everyone to join in with God’s mission. Let’s make praying, listening and responding to God a priority.

Bible study by

Elizabeth Kitchenside

Elizabeth Kitchenside

Cadet, William Booth College

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