What Does it Say?
Matt. 28:19–20 (ESV) “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.”
What Does it Mean?
These are some of the concluding words Jesus shared with His disciples and maybe other followers before His ascension. He used the word “therefore” at the start of this sentence. A wise young man reminded us recently that whenever we see “therefore” we need to see what it is there for. In verse 27 of Matthew 28, Jesus said to the eleven and maybe others, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” Jesus had won back the full authority that Adam and Eve compromised by acting on the half-truths of the devil, disobeying God. One of the first things Jesus does now that He has that authority is to tell His group of disciples to go and set other captives free by making them disciples, or disciplined followers of Jesus in word and deed. He tells His disciples to go and set the captives in all nations free and to do it by “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” This sounds like an impossible task particularly, for the eleven, but Jesus adds, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” As one minister said, the difficulty of a job is measured by the capacity of the doer, and in this case Jesus with the Holy Spirit that enabled Him while He ministered in this earthly realm is the doer.
What Does it Mean to Us?
Jesus’ disciples were not only disciples or followers of Jesus, but He called them to also be disciple-makers like He was. Jesus even modeled the process for them as He, led by the Holy Spirit, ministered to the woman at the well and brought salvation not only to her but through her to a town in Samaria, a place most respected Jews looked down on. Or what about the example of Zacchaeus, a tax collector, who most Jews hated? Jesus saw him though he was short of stature and in a sycamore tree. Jesus brought salvation to his house, for Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
New disciples are to be taught by their disciple-maker to observe how Jesus and the apostles were disciple-makers. Then to take that same model and –by prayer and the Holy Spirit – make disciples who will become disciple-makers as well. If we are Spirit-led and diligent to do this, we can exponentially reach people from all nations with the gospel and with the love of Christ.
Let’s be honest, many of us have known about the Great Commission for a long time but we have avoided the uncomfortableness of it. Well, any disobedience is sin, and we discussed in the first week of our 40 Days of Preparation, all sin needs to be confessed and repented of as we walk forward in obedience to the Word of God.
For many of us, this must be our first response. We need to fall to our knees and ask God to give us compassion for the lost and boldness to do what is right, though uncomfortable. Then we need to remind ourselves of the times when the Lord asked us to do things that seemed so overwhelming but, once we acted in obedience, we found that the Lord had ways that had not crossed our mind. Remember Jesus said, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Just before this reminder of Jesus’ presence, Jesus said “… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Let’s pray that we grab this opportunity. The end of the age is surely coming and these days are our last opportunities.
* Note: to help equip you, some great disciple-making resources are currently available on the BFAM (be fruitful and multiply) app, and more are being developed for release in the coming months!