Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Matthew 20:18-20
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. ~ Mark 16:15-16
In our last post we noted some things that Jesus said about baptism. Another time when Jesus talked about baptism was when he issued the ‘Great Commission’ to his band of disciples. These are Jesus’ instructions for them to follow when He was gone. It is found in both Matthew and Mark. I want us to notice just a few things about this short passage.
Jesus is the authority for what we believe and practice. The goal of a Christian is to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We are his disciples, his students, his learners. We submit our lives to him because he has all authority in heaven and earth! Although, we do acknowledge that we fall short and continually need his grace and mercy.
Jesus is concerned with saving the entire world. He said, “Go into all the world” and “make disciples in all nations“. Christianity is not an American religion but it is a global body of believers joined together in a common cause. The international nature of Christianity cannot be forgotten. We live in a lost world, which Jesus came to save.
Jesus is concerned with the gospel being preached. The gospel in brief is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. In addition, Christians believe in the reality of this truth that Jesus died for us, was resurrected, and will one day return for His people. This gospel motivates us to love Jesus and seek to live for him, to be his disciples. Wherever the gospel is preached, people have an open door into the glorious kingdom of God!
Jesus is concerned that the gospel be preached to all creation. There isn’t a person on earth who will be rejected if they will come to God in faith, believing in Jesus Christ as Lord. Whatever sins they have committed, they are not large enough to block the entrance into God’s House! You haven’t sinned too much for God to forgive. You haven’t gone too far. If you’re reading this, and you’re willing, God is waiting patiently for you to come His way.
Jesus desires that those who believe be baptized. In some of the last words of Jesus to his disciples as he directed them on their mission he mentioned being baptism! Some downplay the importance of baptism and suggest that it isn’t needed. Some tell new believers to just put off baptism for several months until a good number of people are ready to be baptized. It is neat to have a day when a lot of people are baptized, but we don’t read about delaying baptism in the New Testament. Jesus clearly said that when we believe and are baptized we will be saved. Jesus instructed “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. How important baptism must be to be conducted under the authority of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The goal of the gospel is to create saved people out of lost sinners by the power of God. Baptism is a part of that picture.
Jesus teaches that a life of obedience to follow baptism. Disciples of Jesus are obedient people. Though we are saved by the blood of Jesus and living under the power of HIs grace, we desire to grow in holiness and Christ-likeness. Seeking God’s will and yielding to the Holy Spirit is the lifelong journey of baptized believers.
Jesus warns that those who do not believe will be condemned. The instructions of God are very clear. In an upcoming post we will write about the crucial relationship of belief and baptism. In this text Jesus lets those who choose not to believe know that they are choosing to be condemned when He returns on that last great day of judgment. Sometimes people say, “See, he didn’t say ‘whoever does not believe and is not baptized'” … he only talked about belief.” What Jesus said makes sense to me. Why would an unbeliever go through the effort to be baptized?
In a time when Jesus was not to be with the disciples much longer he talked to them about spreading the gospel to every creature in the world. He mentions that those who believe the message and are baptized will be saved. Baptized believers will then live a life of holiness and discipleship. Those who do not have faith will be condemned. The Bible’s teaching about baptism is not really very complicated.
If you are reading Mark 16 in a newer translation you will see that it is either divided out from the rest of the text or placed in a footnote. This indicates that many scholars believe this was not originally a part of the book of Mark, but was added by some ancient scribe. I’ll let you decide what to do about that. As I see it, the account of the Great Commission in Matthew and Mark are nearly identical and both should be considered.
Thanks for reading. For the next few posts we will next look at the book of Acts. There are many examples of people being baptized there! JD