And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the 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.” Matthew 28:18-20
Disciple: a follower or student of a teacher
If you are a believer, Jesus calls you a disciple — one of His followers or students. That means at least two things.
You will be learning. That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus — you are a student of Jesus. I like to think of us as students because it is a more purposeful word. A follower can just tag along, but a student is learning, studying, taking notes, observing, asking questions, debating. A student is engaged in the learning process and the process is never over.
We have the idea in our culture that students are only students for a certain period of time. Eventually we will start doing what we’ve been training for in our studies, at which point we cease to be a student. We joke about how some people are “professional students” because it takes them so long to get through their studies, but in this case that’s just what we are. You don’t ever graduate from being a student of Jesus. It’s humbling, but true, and we should never think of ourselves as having arrived at any level of expertise as a Christian. Always a student of Christ; always learning.
You will be making disciples. Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples. It’s the process of multiplication by which the kingdom of God expands: disciples making disciples. Students of Christ turning out other students of Christ. It’s important to note that we are not talking about evangelism. This command is not carried out in an evangelistic crusade; it’s carried out in a lifetime of walking alongside others.
Robert Coleman in his classic book on discipleship, Master Plan of Evangelism, says that the real measure of evangelism is not the number of people who accept Christ at an altar call, but by the ongoing presence of the body of Christ in the next generation.
This is why we focus a lot on Millennials here at the Catch. We are looking to the future. We are looking to the next generation of leaders. We are not here to just make boomers fat on the truth, but to enlist older believers like some of us to pass the truth on to younger students of Christ.
Do you see yourself as a student? Are you teaching other students everything Christ has taught you? That’s the “curriculum” here — “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you,” is the way Jesus put it. The “curriculum” of this discipleship program here at the Catch is everything you know about Jesus, about the Gospel of Welcome and about Grace Turned Outward. We are making students of all ages, and class is always in session.
Am I a student of Christ? Am I teaching other students of Christ what He has taught me? These are the questions we need to be asking ourselves.
I think the most important part of the great commision is the final phrase which gets overlooked,”..and teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” It’s not enough to win converts to Christianity. Jesus wants a world of Red Letter people. Imagine if everyone turned the other cheek. There would be no one left to slap cheeks. Jesus wants all nations to learn to humble themselves, give without wanting a return, to be peacemakers and pure in heart. The good news is Jesus will get what he wants because all authority in Heaven and Earth has been granted him! We are blessed to be a part of the process.
Amen, brother Amen!
Well said, John!