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April 19, 2011 / Daniel

The Great Commission, All Nations?

the Gospel of Matthew

Image by humberpike via Flickr

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands his apostles to make disciples of “all nations.”   This is a new development within the gospel of Matthew.  Prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, the proclamation of the gospel was focused on primarily on the nation of Israel.  In Matthew 10, when Jesus sent his twelve disciples out as missionaries to proclaim that the kingdom was at hand, he commands them, “Go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (10:6).   Jesus directed his ministry toward Israel.  After all, he was the king of the Jews.

And yet, here in Matthew 28, the focus is on the nations.  What accounts for this change?  It’s the resurrection.  The resurrection demonstrates Jesus’ authority as the true King of Israel, and therefore, people from every nation must submit to Him as the Sovereign Ruler over all creation.  Once again the allusion to Daniel 7:14 is helpful.  “To him [that is, the Son of Man] was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, so that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.” If the resurrection marks the inauguration of the kingdom, then this means that the nations must serve the King.

As Abraham Kuyper once said,   “There is not one square inch in all of creation over which Jesus cannot say, ‘That’s mine!'”   If Jesus is indeed the resurrected Lord of the cosmos, all nations must recognize his sovereignty.

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