It is not unusual to hear the last few verses of Matthew’s Gospel referred to as the Jesus’ Marching Orders for the Church. Frost and Hirsch have a different take on these verses. I think they’ve got it right!
Many well-intentioned church leaders have simplistically presented the words of Jesus “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”, as some remote order barked by a stern sergeant-major. If Jesus said it, we should do it! But Bosch points out that missionary service that is motivated by blind obedience to an impersonal order from Jesus is built on a flimsy foundation. If our commitment to mission is only based on Jesus “order” in Matthew 28, it makes mission and obligation for us rather than an act of love and grace. It’s not unlike a woman who complains that her husband never brings her flowers. When the guilty husband rushes out and buys her a bouquet and presents it to her, she is still dissatisfied, because it wasn’t that she wanted flowers in particular. What she wanted was for him to be motivated by his devotion for her so as to buy a gift. When we engage in mission only because we feel guilty that we haven’t pleased Jesus and his order in the so-called Great Commission, we satisfy neither Jesus, nor our own sense of calling. Rather, says Bosch, mission emerges from a deep, rich relationship with Jesus. The woman whose husband never brings her flowers doesn’t want flowers. She wants him and his devotion. What Jesus is saying to his disciples in Matthew 28 is that little Jesuses will be naturally and normally about the business of making disciples, not to satisfy Jesus’ demands but out of complete devotion to him.
Mike Frost and Alan Hirsch from ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church p.50 (quoting Bosch: Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (American Society of Missiology))