In Matthew 28:18-20, we read of the disciples going to Galilee to meet with the resurrected Christ. We read beginning with verse 18 — “Then Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the earth.’”
Note: God gave us the Scriptures (Bible) so that we might know Him and make Him known. Making God known is what discipleship is about.
At the very heart of this charge that Jesus gave His disciples is — The Great Commission – They were told that as they were going to different people, they were to win them to Christ, baptize them and teach them all that He had commanded. (Matt. 28:18-20)
Next, we have the Great Commandments in Matthew 22:33-40. Here we see His followers (that’s us) that they were to love God and their neighbors. Do we really love God? If we do, we will delight to do His will, obey His commandments, and seek to motivate all mankind to worship Him. We are called to love our neighbor. If we do, we will want him to be born again through faith in Christ. We will want him to have eternal life and to follow Christ.
Lastly, we see in Christ the Great Compassion.
Compassion is love in action. Love is never passive. It is always active. Jesus had compassion for people. In Mark 6:34 we read, “So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them because they were little sheep without a shepherd. Then, He began to teach them many things.” In Luke 19:10 Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the last.”
How do we view family and friends who do not know Christ? Are we concerned that they are lost? Are our hearts moved with compassion that moves us to find ways to connect with them and influence them to Christ?
Many years ago, when our son Sheldon was young and became involved in Little League, he had a coach by the name of Ron Spence. Ron was a lawyer who worked for Conoco Oil. He was an excellent coach. You could tell he loved the kids, loved the sport, taught them to love it, teaching them sportsmanship, etc. etc. I made it a point to meet Ron and told him how much I appreciated the investment he was making in Sheldon’s life. He was an example to the team. After each game, I would connect with him and encourage him. He developed a great team.
One day, I asked if we could have lunch and he said, “sure.” When we met, I asked him about his family, his career, and even his faith. At that time, he was not a Christian, but he had questions. Our friendship grew. His mother was a Christian and he loved her. She started attending our church along with son Ron and his family. They felt at home, were accepted by the people and the day came when the whole family accepted Christ and I baptized them. What a joy it was to watch them grow and become concerned about others. I loved them and they loved me. That’s the way it works. They became more than believers. They became committed followers of Christ. Every Christian should be a disciple-maker.
In Luke 9:23 Jesus set forth what is expected of a disciple – “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’”
· What does ‘deny himself’ mean? – The term in Greek means to “say no to something” and it could also mean to “refuse someone.” (Examples of its use: John 13:38; Hebrews 11:24)
· Jesus also said that a “disciple must take up his cross daily.” In those days the cross was synonymous with death. Self is always seeking personal satisfaction and many times what it seeks is not what God wants for us. It will not in any way enrich our lives. So, Jesus is saying that a true disciple will daily need to die to self so that they can be committed to building His kingdom.
· Jesus also said a disciple will “Follow Me.” To follow Christ calls for a life of surrender and obedience. Our love for Christ calls for a life of obedience. The last part of Luke 9:23, in the Amplified Bible, reads – “follow Me” (cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example, in living and if need be, in dying also.)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was ultimately put to death by Hitler, said “When Christ calls a man/woman/anyone to follow Him, He bids him ‘Come and die.’”
In the weeks ahead, I will share more about what it means to make disciples and to be a disciple. Bottom line: a disciple is one who loves Jesus and wants to become more and more like Him.
Does that describe you and me? I pray that it does.
For His glory,