This is day 27 of 31 Days of Missionary Sunday School
Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. — Matthew 10:6-7 “The Message”
As Christians, we hear a lot about “The Great Commission” (Matthew 28:16-20). Churches and denominations often base their missionary focus and organization around these final words of Jesus as he commissions his followers to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” This article is in no way discounting the vital importance of those words and the weight that they have on the missionary movements of the past and of today. I just think we miss something, as believers, if we think this is the ONLY time Christ told his followers to GO after the people.
Earlier in Matthew (Chapter 10), we read about a more personal commissioning of Jesus’ closest followers. You might call this passage “The Lesser Commission” (but that is in no way minimizing its importance). In this case, the “lesser” refers to the number of people whom this commission was intended; the disciples. Matthew 10 (the entire chapter) gives step-by-step instructions to this rag-tag group of disciples who left everything and followed Him. He warns them of setbacks they will face and challenges them to overcome expected persecution because of the name of Jesus, whom they are about to bear witness of, to an unbelieving world. These disciples are commissioned to go after the people, unashamed and unhindered by the burdens of this world, knowing that Christ will go before them and that, no matter the outcome, Christ has assured His followers an eternal reward.
As Sunday School leaders we, too, have been given this same commission. While “The Great Commission” still applies to all of us, we have the added responsibility of partnering in the disciple making process for those whom we have been called to teach. This added responsibility puts us under the challenge of “The Lesser Commission”, as well. I encourage you, as Sunday school leaders, to take a few minutes and pull out your Bible (or pull up the Bible app on your phone or tablet). Read Matthew 10:1-42 with an eye toward how these verses apply to your given call to go after the people in your assigned people group. What is He commissioning you to do? Go after the people.
Jason McNair serves as the Religious Education Consultant for the Utah Idaho Southern Baptist Convention. He also enjoys teaching an adult Sunday school class at First Baptist Church in West Valley City, UT.