“The Greatest”

Matthew 28:16-20


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"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God!" William Carey, (1761-1864), missionary and considered the father of modern Protestant missions.

water cooler conversation: 

  • Pick a category – athletes, world rulers, chefs, musicians - who do you think is the G.O.A.T. - Greatest of All Time? 

  • C. S. Lewis popularized the argument that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. What do you think? 

did you know…

Secular history corroborates Biblical accounts of Jesus’ life and death. 

  • Within a few decades of his lifetime, Jesus was mentioned by Jewish and Roman historians in passages that corroborate portions of the New Testament describing the life and death of Jesus.

  • “I don’t know any mainstream scholar who doubts the historicity of Jesus. The details have been debated for centuries, but no one who is serious doubts that he’s a historical figure.”Eric Meyers, archaeologist and professor emeritus in Judaic studies at Duke University.

  • First-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who according to Bart D. Ehrman “is far and away our best source of information about first-century Palestine,” mentions Jesus twice in his 20-volume history of the Jewish people, Jewish Antiquities, which was written around 93 A.D. 

  • Another account of Jesus appears in Annals of Imperial Rome, a first-century history of the Roman Empire written around 116 A.D. by Roman senator and historian Tacitus. In recording the events surrounding the burning of Rome in 64 A.D., Tacitus mentions that Emperor Nero falsely blamed “the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius.” 

dig deeper:


unpack the message: 

  • In light of the Great Commission, consider the life and death of American missionary John Chau. Was he a visionary or a crazy religious zealot?

  • Prior to Matthew 28, Jesus had sent word to the eleven remaining disciples via Mary and Mary Magdalene - the first to see Him after His resurrection - to go to Galilee where he would meet them. Remember, the last time they had been with Jesus, some had betrayed Him, others had walked away. The Message records their reunion this way: “The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back…” The disciples were hesitant because they were ashamed. Have there been times in your life you’ve felt a distance between you and God? How did you respond? How long did it take to restore that relationship?

  • The Great Commission is all about Jesus. One of our core values at here at Expectation Church is that “It’s only ever always about Jesus.” How does that tie in with the Great Commission? Are the two in conflict or are they the same message?

  • The Great Commission is to make disciples. Our Patriot Pantry donation initiative is an example of The Great Commission. How? By ministering to those in need, we are demonstrating the love of Christ so they may become disciples, and by going and serving those in need, we become disciples ourselves. What other practical ways can we live out the Great Commission in our everyday lives?

  • The Great Commission means it’s never too late. In the final chapters of the book of Matthew, we read about the last days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, including his interactions with the twelve disciples. Contrast the actions of Judas and Peter during those last days. Both betrayed Jesus, but their attitude and actions after their betrayals could not be more different. 

  • Verse 16 says, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go,” then in verse 18 we read, “Then Jesus came to them.” There’s a significant gap between these two verses, as seen in verse 17. “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” Because of their behavior, they were ashamed, and even though they worshipped, they were unsure of themselves. Would Jesus be angry? Would He forgive them? Was their sin too great to be forgiven? No! Scripture tells us that Jesus comes to them. No matter how far you’ve fallen, no matter how far you’ve strayed, you’re never beyond His reach nor does your sin drown out his forgiveness and grace. The thief on the cross may not have the same reward, but he has the same salvation as the heroes of our faith, including men like William Carey. 

  • The Great Commission eclipses failure.Whatever your past, whatever your story, God has a purpose for you - The Great Commission. God can redeem your story to reach those who otherwise would not listen. He can take the broken pieces of your life, your failures, your shame, and use it both as a tool to share the gospel and as a weapon against Satan’s attack. Everything depends on how you choose to respond to your mistakes. Do you try to fix it yourself like Judas or do you repent and recognize that only God can redeem and restore like Peter?

  • The Great Commission proves and fuels great expectation. In Matthew 28, the disciples have come to Galilee expecting to see Jesus. He appears, and gives them more than a simple message, He gives them a mandate - The Great Commission. It is a great commission not just because of who is issuing it, but because it is a seemingly impossible task. How can eleven men reach the four corners of the earth with the good news of the gospel? Through the power of the Holy Spirit. A supernatural mission demands supernatural power.

make a move:

Choose an action step based on what you’ve learned this week.

  • Food insecurity is a growing problem on college campuses. Give generously to the Patriot Pantry initiative our church is sponsoring. See details here

  • If you haven’t decided to follow Christ, what’s holding you back? Salvation is as simple as acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Right now, you can pray this simple prayer, believing the words not only in your mind but in your heart, and be saved. “Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, and there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I recognize that I can I ever be good enough to work my way into heaven on my own. I believe that there’s only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ who died to save me from my sins and give me a home in heaven with Him. Right now, in this moment, I repent of my sins and ask you to forgive me. My faith now is small, but I ask You to help it grow. Thank you that your promises are true, and especially for the assurance that I am now your child. I thank you that no matter what lies ahead, you will walk with me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

  • If you prayed that prayer, share your decision with one of the pastors or staff who can help you with resources and encourage your newfound faith. 

  • Talk to one of our pastors or Sarah and Nikko Custodio, leaders of our college student ministry, about ways to continue our outreach to George Mason students. 

  • Identify someone in your life who is spiritually hungry and be intentional about inviting them to church. If they’re not ready for church, ask them to go for coffee, and use the Water Cooler suggestions to start a deeper conversation.  

  • The Great Commission begins at home. Are you discipling your family? Set aside time to pray with your partner, your children, and especially on your own. You can’t fill someone else’s spiritual tank if yours is empty. 

  • If you're a believer in Jesus Christ, where has He called you to go? Across the world or simply across the street to a neighbor? With whom has God put on your heart to share the gift of salvation? What steps can you take, knowing Jesus is with you, "to make disciples of all the nations"?

Prayer Prompts:

  • This week, ask God to show you someone who needs spiritual mentoring or discipleship. 

  • Pray that God places someone in your path this week with whom you can share His plan of salvation. 

  • Ask God to lay the Great Commission on your heart in such a way you feel it’s weight and your eyes are opened to the spiritual needs of those around you. 

  • Thank God for the faithfulness of the eleven disciples that took the gospel to every corner of the earth. Thank Him for the person who introduced you to Christ. 

  • Pray for the George Mason students who have been impacted by the efforts of our College and Career eGroup. Pray that God will continue to open doors for us to minister to those students and that those efforts will translate into meeting their needs on both spiritual and practical levels. 

  • Pray for each of our pastors by name. Ask God to fill them with His power and His vision as we prepare to move to our Braddock Road location. 

  • Pray for Travis Younger, our Facilities Manager as he oversees the move and opening of the new building. 

  • Pray for ministry leaders and staff who are preparing to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who will walk through the doors of our new property seeking a church home. 

  • Pray for the architects, engineers, tradespeople, Fairfax County employees, inspectors, and any others who were part of the building and permitting process for the new property. Ask God to bless them for their work, and place a desire in their hearts to come and see why this property is more than just a building.

  • Pray about your role as we launch our ministry in the new building. Ask God to show you where you can serve, what eGroup you should connect with, and who in the congregation is looking for a friend or a mentor like you. 

  • Ask for a list of missionaries we support. Begin to pray for them by name and for God to meet their spiritual and physical needs as they live out the Great Commission overseas.

  • Pray for 7SF and Exponential Church, our church plants in Port St. Lucie and San Francisco, that they will continue to live out the Great Commission in their communities. 

  • Pray for Exponential Church as they seek their new pastor.

worship set:

Open the Heavens - Gateway Worship

Great Are You Lord - All Sons and Daughters 

Sinking Deep - Hillsong Young and Free

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Pastor Christian Gaffney “The Greatest”

Pastor Christian Gaffney “The Greatest”