iven over 2,000 years ago to a group of Jewish disciples, the commandment of Jesus found in Matthew 28:19-20 known as the “Great Commission” has affected the entire face of the globe as we know it. It has altered the life directions of hundreds of thousands of men and women who have themselves been sent in response to this command, and changed the eternal destinies of countless millions who have as a result heard the good news of the gospel from these Kingdom messengers.
While this edict alone is enough of a reason for Bible-believing Christians to direct their time, energy and efforts towards its fulfillment, there is an underlying motivator for world evangelization that goes back to the very one who gave the command—Jesus, the one who claimed, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matt. 28:18). This supremacy of Christ, which scripture says of Him being “the firstborn over all of creation” and that “all things were created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:15-18), adds validity not just to the outward obedience of the saints to His commands, but the very rightness of people ordering the entirety of their lives around Him.
The supremacy of Jesus is tied directly to the worthiness of Jesus to be made much of.
John Piper in his book “Let the Nations Be Glad” states as one of his core premises that missions, quite simply, “exists because worship doesn’t.” This worship he refers to is not an absence of ubiquity of Sunday morning praise services, but rather the fact that millions around the world do not glorify, magnify and make much of with their lives the very God of the universe. The first and greatest commandment—to love God above all else—is the same both on this side of eternity, and the next. Even the saving of souls from hell through the sharing of the gospel and of the love of God is not with man as the ultimate end, but rather God. John described a scene in Revelation 7:9-11 of “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” This great multitude worshipping before the throne of God is a picture of the truly eternal purpose of humankind, which is to worship and glorify God forever.
This worship, however, is not just a logical or mental assent, but rather a joy-filled and passion-fueled glorification of God from the lives of men and women. Psalm 67:3-4 says, “Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.” There is a heartfelt joy in praising God that comes the acknowledgement and experiential knowledge of who God is, and what He has done.
Even the outworking of the second greatest commandment (Matt. 22:39) through the context of world missions is something that Piper, as well as many missionaries throughout the history of Christianity would also say is ultimately fueled by the desire for Jesus to receive the glory that is due His name. A famous example of this is a story told of Moravian missionaries who were gripped to travel to the West Indies to share the gospel with slaves who were working plantations there. As they were, it was said that they called out back to those on shore: “May the Lamb of God receive the reward of His suffering!” These missionaries who were sent as the result of a 100 year prayer movement forsook family, comfort, belongings, and friends; sacrificing everything to see their lives expended for the reward of the suffering of Christ, and the glorification of His name.
As we likewise give ourselves to prayer, and to the endeavoring of ourselves to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in our day, let us remind ourselves of the great “why.” May we be reminded of and inspired onward by what Philippians 2:10-11 says:
“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”