Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
As a Christian, born-again believer and follower of Jesus Christ, we have one primary purpose that can be carried out any number of ways. We are to “go therefore and make disciples”. No really don’t laugh, shake your head or think that’s not me, because friend that is exactly the Call of Christ for each one of us. You don’t have to be a pastor, evangelist, priest, apostle, elder, deacon, teacher, usher, greeter or servant to apply. If you believe in Jesus Christ calling Him Savior AND Lord, it is your profound privilege to be a disciple and to disciple others as you have been.
The word “disciple” as a noun obviously points back to the original twelve who followed Jesus. In a broader sense, it means a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another. It means to be a follower. The word “disciple” as a verb means to teach or train. According to Barnhart and Klein, the word origin and history of disciple comes from the “discipere” meaning to grasp intellectually, analyze thoroughly or to take apart. I think this truly captures the difference between casual Christians and true disciples of Jesus Christ. Those who desire to tear about religion to get to the basis of a real and genuine relationship with Jesus. It does not stop there. We are to take this new and improved understanding of who Jesus is and share it with the world discipling others along the way.
The passage above is referred to as the Great Commission which means that it is not purely suggestive but a directive from Jesus after the Cross when He had assumed all authority over Heaven and earth. No longer in the flesh but fully in form of God – He commands us to “go therefore”. A commission is an authoritative order, charge or direction. He is granting us His Power for success if we fulfill His Direct Command. We must operate fully under the authority of Christ in order to live in alignment with Him and experience His Glory in our life.
Matthew 8:8-10 (NKJV) The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!
The very first paper I ever wrote in Bible college was about the centurion. I love this story. It tells of a man who had all earthly authority but recognized an even greater power in his midst. He heard the stories of Jesus who carried God’s Authority. Sickness could not remain in His Presence, darkness had to flee in the Light of His Love, death was powerless against His Word, many sought after His Miracles but this man, the centurion, understood the Man. He could see the power in Jesus Christ and His God-Given Authority. The centurion respected it. He feared it. He understood how it worked and chose to operate in it.
After His Death, Burial and Resurrection, God gave His Son all authority over Heaven and earth. Jesus had overcome. Greater is He who lives in me than any other power or driving force in the world. There is not a king or kingdom greater than our Savior and Lord. He has given us this same power that brought Him out of the grave to do but one thing – “Go therefore…” The centurion did not need Jesus to “come” to his house, make a big show and dramatically “heal” his servant. No, he said this, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Though not considered a disciple of Jesus Christ, this man understood God’s Authority. He was a man of earthly authority. His full understanding of authority made it possible for the soldier to take Jesus at His Word.
Do I take Jesus at His Word? Am I constantly seeking signs and wonders to supplement my weak faith? Do I understand, acknowledge and submit my life to Jesus Christ as Lord? See this is the very thing that allows us to be successful in accomplishing the Great Commission that Jesus has given us. I have been asked before how I find the time to write every single day. It really is simple. I set my alarm about two hours before I need to get ready for the day. It didn’t start out like that first it was thirty minutes but I began to run late so it was forty-five minutes and so on. I am now at a point where I am battling my flesh because truthfully I need a little more time. When I tell people what I do to make time, I have been told I could never do that. This breaks my heart. It reminds me of the kid who came to Christ asking what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus said first that he must obey all the commandments of the Law. He was religious and super excited to say that he had done that. Then Jesus asked him to sell all his possessions, give it to the poor, and follow Him. The young man left sad because he had so many things. What is keeping you where you are and locked in position? You know there is more and you want it, but have you decided the price of discipleship too high? Have you turned and walked away from Jesus unknowingly, selfishly saying, “Oh, I can’t do that.” To be a man or woman of faith and a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we must go therefore and make disciples.
Acts 2:36-39 (NKJV) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
We all have encountered the men and women who stand on the corner professing that “Jesus Saves” but seldom portraying the Lord as a Savior defined by love, mercy and grace but rather condemning each sinner as they pass by. Burdening them more with their sin than offering a solution. Jesus saves. He wants to be every man, woman and child’s Savior. He loves everyone even those with unimaginable and seemingly unpardonable sin. Sin is sin to God. It all required the life and blood of Jesus – His One and Only Precious Son. Our message to the world must never be that of condemnation or implication that their sin is any greater than our own. What I have to offer is a Savior and Lord because by His Grace I am saved! I have nothing to offer except Christ alone. Our message if of the Lord will “cut to the heart”. The Word of God is a two-edged sword. It is not our job or responsibility to save others just to go and disciple them.
What is the message of your life today? I am evaluating mine. Is the message of my mouth in alignment with God’s Heart? Do I speak words of love, grace and mercy to others? Am I a Light in the darkness or the one shoving them deeper? Our attitude and actions must affirm the Love that we have found and unearned grace that we are given in Jesus Christ. Baptism is nothing more than cold water and simple words unless a love worth changing for is found. You are God’s Ambassador to the earth. Are you truly representing His Kingdom or earthly religion? Does your message draw people to Christ or cause them to back away? Sobering. Defining. Cutting. To think about my representation of Christ every single day leaves much room for improvement, at least it does for me.
Matthew 5:18-20 (NKJV) For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
There are many men and women today in pulpits around the world hosting mega ministries that will not allow people into their hula-hoop or the perimeter of their personal space. They are escorted in by a security team and covered by so-called armor bearers. They do not participate or interact with the congregation. People send in piles of money to these so-called teachers. There are many who hang on their every word. Some may even call them idols but less I digress and mettle just a little too much… However, when these poor helpless and ill-equipped people are home trying to live out their salvation and make Jesus the Lord of their life – they flounder and fall short. God is not working for them like the big-shot told them so they continue to struggle with disbelief, doubt, depression, discouragement until finally they are dissuaded and dissolve in the nameless and faceless crowd. We are not called to be lord of anything – Jesus called us to be disciples, teachers, leaders and lovers of mankind. This is not an elevated status but a total commitment to serving others now until His Kingdom comes.
“But whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Are we teaching others? Are we instructing them properly? Is the message of our mouth consistent with the steps of our feet? Do we walk in God’s Love constantly aware of those around us and completely in the grace that we have been given? The Law has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. We do not have to be perfect but patient in the process of redemption daily giving the Holy Spirit more real estate in our life and claiming Kingdom territory on the earth. Unless our righteousness is from Christ and not a form of religion, we will by no means enter the Kingdom. It matters how we live. Our message matters. Our lifestyle matters. Our purpose matters. Our calling matters. What we do with the blessing that God has given us in His Son Jesus Christ is absolutely influential in our entrance into His Kingdom!
Matthew 25:34-46 (NKJV) Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
“Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to You?” The King answered, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” So what if…just what if? As we journey through life in an attempt to endure to the end and see Jesus face-to-face, perhaps indulge me but what it really isn’t all about me…what if it really is all about Jesus? Have I missed it? Have I walked right by the Lord in the hearts and minds of the hurting? Has the Holy Spirit nudged me to reach out and I have kept my arms folded? Have I missed my calling by ignoring all the people along the way? I can pray for those I love, like and even an enemy or two but if I do nothing to reach them am I really honoring Jesus, my Savior, Lord and soon coming King?
Discipleship is not a message from a pulpit, a teaching in a class or even a fancy production on television. It is a cup of coffee with someone who is struggling. It is holding the hand and hugging those who are hurting. It is telling them Jesus loves them when betrayal has broken them. It is consistently and committedly using our life and very existence to “go therefore” into the world to “make disciples”. In a world where texting replaces talking, communication is strictly on the computer, and all forms of interaction are being snipped and cut daily by the enemy, it is time to change all that.
Acts 2:44-47 (NKJV) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
I have been given authority by Jesus Christ. He is my Savior and I call Him Lord. What am I doing to follow His Command? I can find any number of righteous acts to follow in the Word of God beginning with the Ten Commandments. When Jesus died on the Cross, He stood in the gap for me and my inability to be perfect and sinless. I have been covered completely in His Grace with just one mandate – go therefore. Am I doing it? I want to be. I desire to live out the calling on my life as it leads to complete satisfaction. I must walk by faith and not by sight which means when others follow that they will find faith, too. The early church became filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 and what happened next was not by mistake. They sold everything. They shared everything they had and met the needs of all people. They continued in one accord. Church – one accord. Together not tearing each other apart. They fellowshipped and shared life including the ups and downs together. The lived in freedom from religion in a relationship bound together by Jesus Christ. The Lord added to their church daily. How is your church today? Don’t blame them if you are not growing. We are the church not the building or group that we attend. Until we believe the Word of God enough to live God’s Way, nothing will change. When we do decide to give our Savior our whole life, He becomes our Lord. Things change when we begin to take God at His Word. What it doesn’t say in this passage is just how persecuted the early church was. Christians were beaten, tortured, and murdered for professing Christ to others. It didn’t stop them. They had a job to do. They were on a mission. They had a mandate. It was worth their life. How much is your relationship with Jesus to you? What is that thing that is just too much to give up to follow Christ? We all have it. By choosing to surrender all to Jesus Christ, our lifeless existence becomes a limitless life. Perhaps if we chose to go therefore instead of asking Him to come hither, we might get somewhere. Revival might break out. Our message might just be listened to when genuinely wrapped in true love and devotion to those we encounter every day. Miracles would happen just because someone…anyone chose to take God at His Word again. Come on. Get up. Become aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Make today the day that you say, “Send me, Lord.” Or perhaps just realize He is waiting for us to “go therefore.”
Ephesians 4:11-16 (NKJV) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.