Matthew 28:18-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the 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 have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
These are some of the last recorded words of Jesus before He ascended to Heaven. Read the passage again, and make a special note of what stands out for you. What is Jesus really saying in this passage?
These were important enough for His followers to record because they are instructions which stand for us today. In Acts we see the Jesus followers following Him by being obedient to the Great Commission. Verse 19 is especially important, it says, “Go you therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Some translations say, “teach all nations.” This causes a problem for us because when Jesus says “go teach” we are understanding something else. The Greek word from which we get “teach” is MATHETEUO which is better translated as “disciple” and means much more than mere teaching or giving of information. We tend to read this passage with a Greek mindset because our cultures are mostly influenced by the Greek whereas we should read it with a Hebrew mindset. In the Hebrews understanding of “making a disciple” there was not just lectures but engaging conversations in a family environment. The Hebrew mindset is more family orientated whereas the Greek is more organizational. The one is more impersonal and the other more personal. Many people’s views of God and the church, and their relationship with God and the church, are determined by either a Greek way of thinking or a Hebrew one. Which do you think you have?
A disciple is a pupil or a learner. Someone who learns not only through instruction but through doing. A disciple is made primarily through intentional relationship and not a transfer of information. The true test of a disciple is them being able to transfer (or impart) what they receive onto others.
Because our culture is dominated by Greek mindsets a lot of Christians read the Great Commission and think it’s all about going and teaching. Many feel that they have a great revelation which they need to go out and teach. We are not called to simply go and teach but to go and make disciples. This involves building relationships and spending time with people. God is a relational God and He desires that His church be a relational church, a family not an institution!
A disciple isn’t someone who has a lot of deeply profound revelations… a disciple is someone who is living out the what they’ve learnt and are sharing it with others so that they can pass on what they have received. Many people are looking for a great marketing campaign for their church – designs, slogans and all of that – this is the world way of marketing. And while there may be some room for some of it, the churches number one means of marketing is discipleship! Believers who are experiencing the life-transforming power of God going out and sharing it with others, who share it with others, who share it with others, and so on and so forth.
Are you a Christian or a disciple? Has the Great Commission become the “Great Omission” for you?
We read the commission to “go into all the world…” and somehow we’ve interpreted it to mean, “tell all the world to come to our worship services.” We are telling all the world to come to church when Jesus’ instruction were for us to go make disciples. Don’t mishear me; we need to gather as believers but with regard to reaching the world for Jesus, we don’t do that through worship services. We shouldn’t be telling the world to come to our gatherings and expecting that to cover our missions and outreach program, we should gather to be equipped and then go out and make disciples of our world.
Based on Matthew 28, the way we do church in the West, by-and-large, is very different to the way that Jesus instructed the believers to do church and it’s very different to the way that the early believers did church in the book of Acts. Much of church is about teaching. I have asked gifted teachers what the purpose of teaching is, and many of them talk about their gift to teach and their revelation which they are “called” to share, few of them talk about the purpose of teaching as having someone learn something that is going to produce fruit in their life. The aim of Bible teaching must be discipleship.
I believe that the enemy is helping to get us as believers focused on trying to make converts instead of making disciples, and trying to have great worship services that the lost can attend instead of equipping and mobilising believers to go into their world and change it.
Read through the following verses and take note of the following:
Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Acts 1:8.
- What stands out for me? What is Jesus saying to me?
- What is different from what Jesus is saying and how I am living?
- Do I need to make a course correction? What?
- Is there a believer that I can share this with, today?