Matthew 20 is famous for a couple of things:
- The women going to the tomb
- The guards account of what happened at the tomb
- The Great Commission
Today I want to focus on the Great Commission. This was the time and place when Jesus instructed his disciples on what they were to do after he was gone. Now, I don’t particularly like how Matthew ends his gospel, because he doesn’t include the fact that Jesus stayed with the disciples for 40 days after his resurrection. Not only do we know that Jesus told them to “go and make disciples,” he also taught them how! But before we get into all that, the first thing we need to do is answer the question, what is a disciple?
The biblical understanding of a disciple is someone:
- Professes to receive instruction from another
- Adheres to the doctrine of another (in this case, Jesus)
- A follower or someone who follows his or her master
Following your master was something that the disciples took quite seriously. In fact, there was a sage in the Mishna that read, “may you be covered by the dust of the Rabbi”…may you follow so close that you would be covered by the dust that would come up off the road.
That’s what a disciple is, but that’s not the only thing a disciple does.
It’s important that we realize that discipleship is not a program, or a class, and it’s not education. Discipleship is an attitude, a philosophy, a way of thinking, and especially a way of life. Discipleship is following so close to your Rabbi that you become covered in the dust that comes up off his feet.
While we understand that Jesus’ words here is the Great COmission, in many churches it ends up being the Great Omission!
It’s amazing to me how many churches are filled with Christians but lack Disciples. You’re thinking, “What’s the difference?” You see, Jesus had disciples that he taught, they were believers, they were followers, Jesus taught them, encouraged them, sent them out on missionary journeys. But then something happened…Jesus left. He spent 40 days with them to teach them one last time about what they were supposed to do after he was gone. What did he say for them to do right before he ascended?
To break it down:
- Make disciples.
- Teach them to obey
- Oh, and while you’re doing that, I will always be with you.
Here’s the main difference that I found between a Christian and a Disciple: A CHRISTIAN HEARS THE WORD AND DOES WHAT IT SAYS… A DISCIPLE HEARS THE WORD AND TEACHES IT TO OTHERS!
Remember the words found in Colossians 3:17 (NLT) 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
I know I’m talking to two different audiences today. I’m talking to those who are at a further point down the road in their spiritual maturity…to you I say, we need you to become disciples and begin to teach others.
Now, to those who are new in your walk and are just starting out. Don’t beat yourself up if it takes time and you struggle to fully grasp it right away. Every person who’s accepted Christ has gone through a growing process in their relationship with Christ. Your goal is to walk so close to Christ you become a disciple… THEN TEACH IT TO SOMEONE ELSE!
Think about this: What if the 11 disciples that Jesus entrusted with His mission said NO? Would we be standing here today? NO! The Great Commission is about Planting Churches and Discipling Christians! It’s clear through His instructions that Jesus desires every Christian to be a disciple maker.
Praise the Lord the disciples didn’t say no! Now it’s your job to not say no! So stop reading, get out there, and make disciples of all the nations… baptize them, teach them to obey God’s words, and oh, by the way, Jesus will be with you as you go.