The commission was a great challenge. But it was Jesus who had given them this challenge and as his disciples, they wanted to follow their Master. It was not a piece of advice neither a wish nor an expectation. Jesus gave his disciples a command, a mission and a goal to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:20)
It was not a matter of chance that Matthew chooses to finish his gospel with what we call “the Great Commission.” If you read this gospel of Matthew from beginning to end you will have a very exciting walk together with Jesus and his disciples. As a reader you may join in among the disciples and so you just follow at a distance but at the same time rather close. From birth to a grown-up life. Down at the cross but also into the empty grave. And finally to that mountain to which Jesus had told his disciples to go.
When they saw him there they fell on their knees and worshipped him. Then Jesus started to speak to them: ”All authority in heaven and on earth is given unto me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” The words echoed inside their minds. ”Therefore go to all nations.”
The apostles who themselves were disciples had for some years been trained by their Master. Soon he should not be among them in the same way as before. The sand had run through the hourglass and it was time for them to try their wings to fly out over the world with the gospel of liberation.
But none of the apostles could at the end of their lifes say that they had reached out to the whole world. They had not even as a group filled their commission.
Could it be said that the apostles had failed their task? To understand this we have to understand what happened on the mountain.
When the apostles got their commission it was as if Jesus had given them a baton, because they we going to run their part of a race but not the whole distance. But they should have the goal before their eyes even if they were not going to brake the finishing tape. If you run a relay race then you are in a team. Everyone runs to win the race and is fighting to reach the same goal. The apostles ran and took responsibility for their part of the race. Then a new generation took over the baton from the first disciples and ran their part of the race.
The same commission that Jesus gave to his disciples is now passed over to us who want to be Jesus’ disciples in our time. The commission is as great a challenge in our time as it was then. It has to do with Sweden but not only about Sweden but also about the whole world. You need to think about this so that you can get your priorities right in your life.
Something happened once when several thousand people had gathered around Jesus. They were very hungry and needed something to eat. But they were far away from any shops. One of the disciples happened to see a boy who had five bread and two fishes. Then the disciple felt it was foolish to think that those bread and fish should be enough for five thousand. But Jesus blessed the bread and the fish and divided it among the people. Everyone got his share and quite a lot was left over. Let us keep this story in mind when we give of what we have to Jesus.
The apostles didn’t reach out to all nations. Did they fail their task? No but if we don´t take the baton and run our part of the race then you can say that they failed. They ran their part of the race, they did what they could. Now it´s our turn to hang on and continue to run.
Perhaps we are going to brake the finishing tape. Maybe it is our generation who is going to reach out to the rest of the nations and together with them may welcome Jesus when he comes back to the earth.