Centuries before Christ came into the world, the Lord foretold of the universal mission of His Servant, “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). Jehovah’s servant would not only raise and restore the faithful remnant of Israel, but would be a light to all the nations of the earth, bringing salvation to all people. The scope of Jesus’ mission is universal. When He arose from the dead, He explained this universal scope to His disciples: “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:45-47).
Isaiah identified Jerusalem as the starting point, and perhaps from the figurative language one could think that all people would travel to Jerusalem, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3). While certainly Jews from all nations were gathered at Pentecost to hear the first proclamation of the Gospel (Acts 2:5), the Lord’s intention was not for His disciples to stay in Jerusalem so the Gentiles could come and get the good news. No, He wanted His followers to go out into every nation and bring the good news to them. Echoing the sentiments of the prophecy in Isaiah 49:6, Jesus told the apostles, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Jesus’ commission to preach to all nations is not only recorded in the aforementioned Luke 24:47, but also in Matthew 28:19 where—after Jesus proclaimed His universal authority—He commanded, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The Gentiles, here translated “nations,” are included in those whom Jesus came to save. Mark’s account includes “all the world” and “every creature” (Mark 16:15).
The Gospel went into all the world in the first century; it was preached to every creature (Colossians 1:6, 23). Today the commission is still required of Christians. The final part of Jesus’ commission regards what must be done with those who have been made disciples through baptism, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:20). A disciple is to follow all things Jesus has commanded. The command to go teach all nations that Jesus had just given in verse 19 is no doubt included in “all things” that disciples are to observe. Are you, as a disciple of Jesus, trying to teach others about him? To teach and baptize to make more disciples is part of what being a disciple of Jesus is all about. Will you help the world to know about the salvation Jesus Christ provides?