Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19, NASB1995).
Would you take 30 seconds and read the above verse several times?
Now, let’s be Bible scholars. Which of the following sentences best interprets the above statement of Jesus?
- I’m going to tell my pastor that he needs better discipleship in our church.
- We need to focus on our city.
- Discipleship includes “all nations.”
The command of Jesus is “all nations.”
While discussing the importance of discipleship, I’ve often heard this statement, “We must first start with our city.” Strategically, I understand starting locally and growing outward.
I discussed discipleship several times with a leading businessman in our community, and he would always say, “But what are we doing for our community? We can’t work around the world when we have such great need in our city.”
But Jesus said, “Make disciples of all the nations.” He didn’t say we were exempt if we had problems in our city.
The Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20 is a worldwide mandate. It includes discipling our co-workers; it includes our church discipling our city; and it includes the world.
All three – you can’t leave out “all nations.” We must do all three at the same time.
When Jesus says, “Make disciples of all the nations,” He means that we start small with a vision that includes the nations. Our planning for discipleship should have thoughts and prayers for our community and other countries.
The author C.S. Lewis said, “Aim at Heaven, and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth, and you will get neither.”
When I saw this quote, I thought, “Aim at your city, and you will get a neighborhood; aim at the world, and we will get the city.” A larger vision makes the smaller easier.
Small or local vision can focus on the inconsequential, while a larger calling makes the mundane seem meaningless. Short-term missionaries, after witnessing children scavenging for food on a garbage dump in another country, upon returning to the United States, felt their house payments and vacations were less important.
As small Christians (how we often consider ourselves), we may resist a worldwide vision because of our inadequacies, life busyness, or past mistakes.
Jesus still says, “Make disciples of all nations.”
Fortunately, Jesus also says, “I am with you always.” We can do this. We can do anything if Jesus is with us. Jesus may ask us to work at our church; He might ask us to become a tutor in a school; or He may ask us to travel overseas.
His calling will be unique to all of us. But let’s fully obey His commission. Let’s not be afraid or intimidated by our smallness.
I know of a few fishermen who had no education, had only traveled a few miles from their homes, and were extremely poor until they heard Jesus say …
Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).
Jesus says the same thing to us all right now, only He adds a few words …
To all nations!