“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20)
In Acts 1:8, Jesus promises His disciples that they would be His witnesses even to the “remotest part of the earth.” Here at the close of the gospel of Matthew, He says “all nations” to refer to the same trajectory of mission. This geographical parameter is referred to alongside a chronological one: the end of the age. The completion of the Great Commission will be dramatic. And the stage God has ordained for this drama to unfold is the last days. The end of the age may be the great omission in the modern discussions of the Great Commission. We enthusiastically speak of “finishing the task” without any mention of the fact that Jesus Himself bound this inseparably to the subject of eschatology – the knowledge of the end.
The coming of the Son of Man is our great hope. Within the history of missiology, the prospect of the return of Jesus has been a powerful catalyst for renewing zeal for sending and going. We must also soberly reckon with all the things that Jesus said must come before His glorious appearing. The missionaries charged with the task of running the last leg of the race will do so in the midst of unprecedented global upheaval. Wars, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes will abound. Deception and persecution will assail those who proclaim Jesus with an intensity and fierceness never before seen in history. We might ask “who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16) Yet the real question is “what is Jesus worthy of?” As we allow this question to shape our horizons, may God, by His grace, make us adequate for the call.