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The Church’s Great Omission

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Matthew 28:16–20; Mark 16:15–20; Luke 24:44–53

The Lord has called us to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to our world. He has given us the message and the strategy and provided the strength to carry it out. The only thing we need to do is accept the commission and obey His command.


For followers of Christ, missions must never be just a passing thought but rather our passion in life. We are on a search-and-rescue mission, joining with Jesus, who came to seek and to save those who were lost (Luke 19:10). In missions we are joining our heavenly Father as He seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). As long as there are people who are not worshiping the Lord, the work of missions is to continue. This is why one author wrote, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”[1]

So, as we complete our Wisdom Journey through the Gospels, it really should not surprise us to find a concluding emphasis on a universal missionary command, which we call the “The Great Commission.” Sadly, today, it is more like “The Great Omission.”

In the last paragraph of Matthew 28, Jesus not only presents the Great Commission but also outlines the strategy for the Great Commission:

And Jesus came and said to them [the disciples], “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.” (verses 18-20)

Do these closing words sound like a suggestion? Does it sound like Jesus is leaving this up for a vote?

This is not The Great Suggestion; this is The Great Commission. And it is not complicated, beloved. Here is a rather simple strategy: evangelize, baptize, and teach. That is our mission!

One of the best indicators of a healthy church is not how many people it seats but how many it sends. The financial strength of a church today is not how much it saves in the bank but how much it invests in the mission. I happen to believe that a church either gives away or passes away.

Now let’s turn over to the last few verses in Mark’s Gospel, at chapter 16. Mark records in verse 15 these words of the Lord: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Matthew provided the strategy for our mission; Mark provides the scope of the Great Commission. Our mission is worldwide.

Mark goes on to record the supernatural signs that will accompany this apostolic community and authenticate their message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

The New Testament had not yet been written. Christians could not gather and study the book of Romans or even read these Gospel accounts until later. Prior to the completion of the Bible, God gave these temporary, supernatural, undeniable signs to accompany the early apostolic community. Whether it was speaking in a language they had never learned in school, surviving snake bites or poisoning by enemies of the church, or casting out demons, God miraculously established their ministry with signs that only God could produce.

Today, if anyone wants to know if I represent the truth of God’s Word, they do not have to hear me speak in Mandarin or watch me raise somebody from the dead or heal some terminal disease. All they have to do is test what I say against the completed Word of God.

Next, in Luke chapter 24, we are given the substance of the Great Commission. Look here at verses 45-47:

Then [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

The substance of the Great Commission is the simple gospel message. But this is the challenge, isn’t it? The reason the gospel is not readily believed by everybody you talk to is because of the content. People might believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but they are not going to immediately admit they are sinners and repent of their sin.

Many churches today try to get people to accept the gospel, while continuing in their sinful lifestyles. Let me tell you, Jesus is not interested in adapting to your lifestyle; He is going to change everything about you from the inside out.

Jesus has one final thing to say here in Luke 24:

“Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (verse 49)

Here Jesus speaks of the strength for carrying out the Great Commission—namely, the Holy Spirit, who will come to indwell the disciples. The importance of this truth is emphasized by the fact that these are the last recorded words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, which concludes with a brief description of Jesus’ ascension into heaven (verses 50-53).

Now keep in mind the Holy Spirit will descend on the Day of Pentecost, a little later, as the New Testament church is created. And from that moment on, every believer is immediately and permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon receiving Christ.

But as we saw previously in our Wisdom Journey in John 20, Jesus also provided the spiritual strength the disciples would need until the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost. There we read in verse 22, “[Jesus] breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”

Jesus gives the disciples a unique foretaste of the Spirit’s power that is going to enable them to stand up under intense pressure and opposition until they are permanently empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the Gospels clearly give us the source of the Great Commission—Jesus Christ Himself. He is the one who gives this mission directly to His followers, telling them—and us—to take the gospel into all the world, making disciples of all nations. Indeed, as He says in John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

By the way, this Great Commission is not delivered to ordained professionals here; there are no graduate degrees represented among these disciples. They are fishermen and perhaps businessmen and craftsmen.

Part of our failure today is we seem to believe this Great Commission is given to somebody else—a pastor or some vocational missionary. Jesus delivered this command—this commission—to people like us, to every believer. We are to take the gospel out into the public square where we work and live—where we swing a hammer or teach a class or draw up a business plan.

Maybe you are thinking, Well, I don’t have much to offer the cause of Christ. Perhaps you remember Aesop’s fable about the crow who was dying of thirst. He came across a long-necked jar, and he could see water down in the jar, but he could not reach it. So, he got a little pebble and dropped it into the jar. Over and over, one by one, he dropped pebbles down the neck of that jar, and he raised the water level until he finally was able to drink.

Beloved, you and I are just little pebbles, working together to bring the water of life to our world. We don’t have to wait till we earn an advanced degree. We don’t have to wonder where to begin or what to say. The Lord Himself is the source of our commission, and He has clearly set forth the strategy, scope, and substance of it, and He has provided the strength to accomplish it. We just need to follow Him and do His will, one little pebble at a time.

[1] John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! 3d ed. (Baker Academic, 2010), 15.

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