Make Disciples

The Great Commission #3

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20 (WEB)

In the full power of His authority, Jesus tells His disciples to go. Giving specifics now, He instructs them to complete three primary tasks – the first of these being to make disciples. In subsequent posts, we will look at the other two instructions which are to baptise and to teach.

Firstly, what is a disciple? We cannot hope to “make” them if we are not clear what they are.

A disciple is simply a “follower.” A disciple of Jesus therefore, is one who follows Him.

Following someone is most commonly used in physical terms. We follow someone when they are showing us the right way to go. Perhaps you are going to a new place and you do not know the way, if you follow a friend then they go on ahead and you tag along behind.

We can follow in many more ways than just physical however. You may, for example, follow your favourite sports teams; keeping up with their scores, team news and key stats. Likewise, you might follow a singer or band, streaming their latest music and “following” them on the socials.

To follow Christ means something rather deeper. It implies a firm commitment to Him, and not to be a mere “fan” of His, but instead to devote your life in His service. Following Jesus is to follow in His footsteps, and again, I do not mean physically. We aspire to be more and more like Him; walking in love, being unselfish, caring for others, but most importantly, bringing people into a deeper relationship with the Father.

To be Christ’s disciple is to put aside all else, and follow Him with your whole heart.

To be Christ’s disciple is to put aside all else, and follow Him with your whole heart. #Bible #Christianity #Jesus

We learn about Him yes, but we learn with Him. We do what He asks of us, and we put Him first above all else. We follow Jesus into blessing, and we follow Him into troubles and trials. We sacrifice what this world has to offer and instead choose His glory. We put our trust in Him, relying on Him for our life in this world and the next. That is what it is to be a disciple.

So how do we “make” them?

Earlier on, I asked how you would sum up the Great Commission, and pointed out that many might answer by saying “Telling others about Jesus.” Sharing the Good News about Christ is the first step to making disciples.

For, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”Joel 2:32 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in him whom they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher? 15 And how will they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News of peace,

    who bring glad tidings of good things!”

Romans 10:13-15 (WEB)

They cannot call on the name of the Lord and begin to follow Him unless they are first told. To begin making disciples, we must tell them the truth. We tell them the Gospel, which is that Christ came, He lived and died, and on the third day He rose again to new life. Whoever believes in Him will live and have eternal life! Praise His Holy Name!

Is telling those who do not know Jesus enough to make disciples? For some it might be. They hear the word preached to them, and the Spirit of God stirs up their hearts to make a lifelong commitment to Him. For others, they may start to accept and believe the truth of the Gospel, but will then need love, support and guidance. For all of us, there is a substantial journey between the moment we give our lives to Jesus, and the time we reach maturity in the faith.

This is why God has given the church a variety of gifts and offices:

He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers;

Ephesians 4:11 (WEB)

Our goal in making disciples is not simply to get someone to mouth the words “I believe in Jesus,” but rather we want them to experience the changed life that comes from being a true follower of Christ. At times we need to be taught the truth, and at other times we need the care of the shepherd or pastor. There are times we may need the warning or encouragement of the prophet, and many begin our journeys responding to the call of the evangelist. All are involved in making disciples.

All Nations

Carefully reading Jesus’ words again shows us that “make disciples” is not the full command, instead He tells us to “make disciples of all nations.” This shows us that no one is excluded. God wants His Gospel preached everywhere, and to have disciples present in all places. You might consider the collective disciples as the global church, which is God’s hands and feet, reaching every corner of the globe.

No one person can do this. If you are worried you might have to travel far and wide to begin making disciples, then let me reassure you. There are plenty of opportunities on your doorstep. Perhaps God may call some of us to go to far off places and make disciples there, but for the most part we are to do it in our own backyard.

We can make disciples in our own family. We can make disciples of our work friends. We can make disciples of our neighbours. We can make disciples of our followers on social. And if we write, we can make disciples of Christ of our readers.

One of the great things about writing a blog is that the stats tell you where your readers come from. I live in the UK, and many of my readers come from there, but I also see readers from places I am never likely to go. It is humbling that my words, such as they are, reach such places. It remains my continued prayer that those who do read will become more and more like Christ. That is, surely, what making disciples is all about.

What will you do?

Some questions for you to think about:

  • How well are you following Jesus?
  • What is your role in making disciples, do you think?
  • Can you think of someone who may need encouraging in their walk with Jesus today?

Pray for your Pastor – Sunday Suggestion

Today’s Sunday Suggestion may seem an obvious one, but your pastor/minister/vicar needs your prayer support! I am not a pastor, but have been in church leadership for many years, and let me tell you it is no easy task! You know the phrase, “You can’t please everyone all of the time…”? Well that is sadly apt for church leaders!

If you have a faithful pastor or group of leaders over your church, then you ought to be eternally grateful. I know so many church leaders who have worked themselves sick for the sake of their flock, and now more than ever, pastors and leaders need our help and support.

The Bible encourages us to pray for those in authority over us. Scriptures such as Romans 13 and 1 Timothy 2 direct us to pray for kings and ruling governments, and I do not think it a stretch to include those in church leadership over us also.

A passage I return to when thinking of my own leaders is found in Exodus:

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Exodus 17:10-13 (NIV)

Now your pastor may not be facing a physical battle as the Israelites were (although I bet it feels like that sometimes!) but they need just as much support. Can you be an Aaron or a Hur for them, come alongside and hold up their hands for a time?

How can you pray for them right now? If you are not sure, why not ask them, or send them an email?

Most leaders or pastors would probably like the following to be prayed over them:

  • Prayers for strength, energy and good sleeping patterns
  • Prayers for protection for them and their family; physically, mentally and spiritually
  • Prayers for wisdom and discernment
  • Prayers to help them manage their workload and prioritise
  • Prayers for their own relationship with Jesus
  • Prayers for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their life and ministry

The list could go on and on. If you have other good ideas of how to pray for church leaders, do share them below.

One final suggestion – you might like to set aside a specific day or time to pray for them each week. If your life is like mine, then it can get rather hectic at times. Set a reminder or put a weekly appointment in your diary or calendar so it does not get missed.

Your pastor will be ever thankful for your prayers and support!