There are several aspects to the task (“The Great Commission”) Jesus gave us. Matthew 24:14 is often cited by those passionate about finishing the task – “This Gospel shall be preached in all the world, as a witness to all the nations.”
The term “preaching” when spoken in English contains more of the “proclamation” aspect (above) – and some of the “witness” aspect above – but it does little to communicate the “making disciples” aspect.
The Great Commission itself is given in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, and Acts 1. Each of these verses focuses on different aspects.
- Matthew 28: Go, Make Disciples, Baptize, Teach-to-obey
- Mark 16: Go, Preach, Baptize, (and some mss, the miracles portion)
- Luke 24: Proclaim (passive, would-be-proclaimed), witness, (be-filled-with-power)
- John 20: (be-sent), Receive (the Spirit), Forgive (or not)
- Acts 1: Receive, Witness, Tell
We focus a lot on Receive-the-Spirit, Forgive-Others, Do-Miracles, Proclaim-with-Power, Baptize, and Teach. We seem to focus less on making disciples (although this is shifting, thankfully).
But we cannot forget that simply preaching the Gospel is not enough to call ourselves obedient to the Commission we have been given. What is said in one verse (Matt. 24:14) does not negate what is said in other verses. To call the task complete, we must offer the opportunity of community, of discipleship, of following Jesus together, to everyone.
This is not an easily measured or easily accomplished task, but it is the task we must be about.