Little words carry big weight. In the Great Commission, after asserting His unbounded authority, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19a, ESV). The main verb and imperative in the command is “make disciples.” “Go” is a participle, but one that carries the force of an imperative. In other words, “go” is not optional. Very early in Matthew we see the same construction with the angel telling Joseph to “Rise . . . and flee to Egypt” (2:13). The next verse reads, “And he rose . . . and departed to Egypt.” Greek grammarians identify these participles (“go,” “rise”) as attendant circumstance. The action reflected in that participle is integral to carrying out the main verb.
What does “go” mean? Here’s a simple definition: Change your present location by exerting the necessary effort to arrive at a different location.
Matthew uses a similar formula eleven times throughout the book. Normally, the response is recorded. But not here. However, we do have a record of the response in the book of Acts.
- Acts 5:20 – The apostles go from the prison to the temple to preach the gospel
- Acts 8:26-27 – God instructs Philip to go to a certain road and leads him to give the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch
- Acts 16:7 – Paul went, but the Holy Spirit redirected
- Acts 18:6 – The Jews rejected the message of Christ, so Paul kept going – to the Gentiles
These examples demonstrate the apostles’ obedience. Every disciple of Christ carries the same responsibility. The list below provides some points to consider about how we can do this . . . today!
How to go
Look for opportunities to go – the store, the gym, community events, neighborhood activities, parks, etc.
Crucify your flesh when you want to stay
Pray for divine appointments as you go – it heightens your awareness to opportunities and God delights to answer prayers according to His will
Start simple conversations with people – show a genuine interest in their lives
Assume people have burdens and problems and seek to be a friend who listens
Hold things loosely
Use things wisely
Hindrances to going
Going to many other things that wear us out for going to make disciples – Western culture is notorious for “busyness”
Being so narrow-minded about my “to-do” list that I miss the needs of those around me
Loving things so much that I spend all my time gathering them and maintaining them
James 4:13 points out that those who “go” primarily to acquire stuff do not go thinking about the Lord. Second Timothy 4:10 reminds us about Demas, a man who “went” from Paul – because he loved the world.
We will all go today. We will change locations to do certain things. What will be your motive for going? Will you obey Christ’s command to be make disciple-making the purpose of going?