Reading: Matthew 28
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
Jesus had come to the end of three years with those who had followed him. He had taught them, discipled them, modelled behaviour for them, and brought about in them the gradual transformation of their hearts and minds. Now, Jesus reveals his master plan for all the people who were yet to come: Disciples who make disciples who make disciples.
We are the plan! But not just us standing alone. We go with and under the authority of Jesus, the highest authority of all. We go with the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. We go in the power of the Holy Spirit who is with us and in us. We are to make disciples of every kind of person, from all walks of life. The word used in verse 19 for nations, ethnos, is also translated 'Gentiles'. Jesus is giving instructions that this new covenant is not just for the Jews, but for everyone.
“Go and make disciples“, from the Greek 'matheteuo': to become a pupil; to disciple; enrol as scholar; instruct, teach. Jesus instructs me not to “convert” people but to teach them and instruct them. Baptism may be an event, but to make disciples is a process that begins even before a conscious decision has been made to make Jesus lord.
As a teacher therefore, I can start teaching people who are not yet committed Christians. Discipleship is incremental; even small packets of “teaching”, in whatever form that comes, may help people to come closer to obeying everything Jesus has commanded us. No matter what my gifting, my life can provide opportunities for others to learn about what it means to obey the commands of Jesus. I can disciple people by the way I live.
Thank you Lord for calling me to yourself, for choosing me, and for those people who discipled me, especially my parents. Holy Spirit, please guide me into every opportunity to disciple others, whether by word or deed, whether formal or informal. Use me and my gifts to bring people closer in their everyday walk with you.