“Go therefore and make disciples…and lo, I am with you always.” Matt.28:19, 20
This past Sunday we were visitors at another local church to witness the baptism of five of our family members. It was a joyful time as we stood with the congregation singing songs of praise to the Lord while these and others followed the Lord into the water.
Jesus’ last recorded words in Matthew’s gospel are concerning discipleship. As His disciples were worshiping Him, Jesus gave them what has been called “the great commission”. He told them that, “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 the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt.28:18-20). The task given the church rests upon His authority as the One who conquered death and was soon to be seated at the right hand of the Father in glory, the One who will come again to establish His kingdom. We are the King’s ambassadors going in His name and authority to do the King’s work. The call to discipleship goes out not only to the Jew but to all of the Gentile nations as well, for there is salvation in no other name.
Go and make disciples–but what is a disciple? A disciple is a follower or a pupil, an apprentice. Think of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus or the twelve who lived closely with Him, listening and observing all that He said and did. Paul commends those disciples at Thessalonica who “became imitators of us and of the Lord,”(I Thess.1:6). As we go and make disciples we need to be able to say as Paul said to those in Corinth, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (I Cor 2:1). As we make disciples, they are to be baptized. Watching our children and grandchildren enter the baptismal waters, we knew that they were identifying with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. They understood that having been buried with Christ, they were now raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6). Baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things passed away, behold, new things have come.”…buried with Christ, raised to walk in newness of life! But there is more. “Teaching them to do all that I commanded you.” As we make disciples, it is our responsibility to teach them. We come alongside those we disciple in order to instruct them in the word of God while being an example that they can follow. In Peter’s first letter, he instructs the believers concerning the use of spiritual gifts as good stewards of God’s grace. The end result is that “in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” As we become and make disciples that live obedient, faithful and fruitful lives, God is glorified. His worth and value are lifted high for all to see! What is more, He has given us a glorious promise: As we do the work that He has called us to, He will be with us! We all felt His presence on Sunday as we participated in Believer’s Baptism, watching those disciples proclaim publicly that they are followers of Jesus Christ.
The work of the church goes on, but for how long? Until the end of the age. There is coming a day when our work will be complete and the King will return to set up His glorious Kingdom. What a future we have ahead of us!! Until that day, we watch and we wait and we fulfill the task that He has given to His church, to go and make disciples. Remember, He is with us! Amen.