Bible Insights

The Great Commission

Go and Make Disciples

Today’s passage: Matthew 28:18–20

Focus verse: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)

As Jesus prepares to return to heaven, he has one final bit of instruction for his disciples. He commissions them to continue what he started and tell others the good news about how he died in their place to save them from their sins.

The Bible records these final instructions in three places—here in Matthew, as well as in Mark and Acts. Each differs from the others. We’ll cover each one in turn in our next three readings.

The most common one occurs in Matthew’s biography of Jesus. Over the years I’ve heard many preachers speak on this passage. It’s often called the Great Commission.

It’s great because no other commissioning charge is more important than telling the world about Jesus.

Jesus begins by saying that all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to him. Implicitly he imparts this authority to his followers. Based on this he tells them to go and make disciples—everywhere.

He doesn’t tell them to make converts. He tells them to make disciples. Contrary to how most churches behave today, converts—or new members—isn’t the goal.

Disciples are what matters to Jesus. If it matters to Jesus, it should matter to us.

Jesus also tells them to go to all nations. Two thousand years ago most Jews assumed the promised Savior was coming for their nation only and no others.

Yet a careful reading of the Old Testament reveals that God planned all along that Jesus would save Gentiles, too, not just the Jews. The Scriptures allude to this multiple times.

As Jesus’s followers go and make disciples, they’re to do two things: baptize and teach.

Baptism is a public testimony of aligning with Jesus. Most of his followers today make much about baptism, arguing over how it should occur and what it means.

In considering these issues, we must remember the rebel crucified next to Jesus. Jesus promised him salvation based on his verbal assent, and he was never baptized.

Though baptism is important, the meaning behind it is even more important. Hold on to this truth.

The other thing the disciples are to do is teach. Jesus wants them to teach people to obey everything he commanded them to do.

But the people are supposed to obey Jesus’s commands, not the Old Testament ones. This is a key distinction.

Jesus commanded little of us. We’re supposed to follow and believe in him (Matthew 16:24 and John 11:25).

Next, we are to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37–40, Luke 10:27, and 1 John 3:23). If we do these things, we’ll be in great shape.

Jesus concludes by saying that he’ll be with us always, even to the end of time. And he’ll do this through the Holy Spirit who will arrive in a few days.


  • What should our response be to Jesus’s final instructions to his followers?
  • What are we doing to obey Jesus’s essential command to make disciples?

Prayer: Jesus, wherever we go may we tell others about you and make disciples.

Celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and his return to heaven in The Victory of Jesus. The Victory of Jesus is another book in Peter DeHaan’s beloved Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.