The Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20) is one of the last things Jesus says that shapes our perception of Missional Jesus.
1. Missional Jesus asserts authority at the level of divinity, even if it is co-regency.
2. Since missional Jesus has “all” authority, his commission is for “all” people.
3. “Go and make” are not two separable acts; this is a pleonasm (two words used to say one thing). You might italicize or bolden “make disciples” and read it like this: “Go make disciples.”
4. Disciples of the missional Jesus are made through baptism (a conversional act) and instruction (catechism act).
5. Missional Jesus’ disciples are instructed to “obey” his teachings — all of his teachings. Not some; all.
6. Missional Jesus is with missional disciple-making disciples.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 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.”
It is not impossible to historicize this text. Jesus’ vision of a Gentile mission is at best rarely in view in the Gospels. It is possible then to understand “end of the age” as 70 AD’s destruction of Jerusalem as the ending of national privilege; it is possible to read “disciple all nations” as “to the Jew first” throughout the diaspora. Possible. Against the grain, to be sure. Why think of it? Because “age” is an epoch not the end of history; because Jesus’ missional vision focused on Israel.
Please don’t get bent out of shape on this one. I put it forward as a view I have at times entertained.