Discipleship

As we continue with our text from Matthew 28:16-20, we move from the command of making disciples to the attendant activities attached to the command: going, baptizing and teaching to obey:

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [1]

Two of the means of making disciples is baptizing and teaching new followers to obey.  There is much more to discipleship than these two elements because the grammar in the text will not allow us to conclude they are the only elements.  In other words, baptizing and teaching are not the means of making disciples, but they characterize it. What is being proclaimed here by Christ is a proclamation of the gospel that will result in repentance and faith. The response of discipleship is baptism and instruction. A person who claims to be a follower of the Lord, yet refuses this basic ordinance of the church to be baptized and so symbolically become enjoined into the body of Christ is not taking open confession of Christ as Lord of their lives seriously.

 The New Testament can scarcely conceive of a disciple who is not baptized or is not instructed. So, the force of this command is to make Jesus’ disciples responsible for making disciples of others, a task characterized by baptism and instruction.

Finally, making disciples includes teaching them to obey all the things that Jesus commanded.  What did Jesus command?  He commanded us to preach the gospel of the kingdom.  However, it means more than showing up in a pulpit on a Sunday morning and preaching; it means proclaiming the good news.  One person put it like this, “Preach the gospel at all times.  If necessary, use words”.  Obedient lives, yield obedient disciples.  Memorizing scripture and being able to argue the finer points of theology are not enough. 

However, doing all of these things, we will not be sitting in a pew, waiting for people to come to us, we will be going.  Tomorrow, we will look at what it means that Jesus said he would be with us.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 28:16–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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