Together in Christ: 'Make Disciples!' — Matthew 28:18-20

Tuesday, December 10, 2024

Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
— Matthew 28:18-20 NLT

Key Thought

These verses are known as Jesus' Great Commission. They are the Lord's last words for His closest disciples before He ascended back to the Father. This message is one clear command with three related actions: [1]

Command: Make disciples of all nations!

  • Action 1: By going.
  • Action 2: By baptizing.
  • Action 3: By teaching new disciples to obey all Jesus taught and demonstrated by example.

Today, I fear that we often substitute our definition of a disciple for Jesus' description. We invite folks to COME to church and don't GO into all the world. We tell people to invite Jesus into their hearts but often don't BAPTIZE. Much of the time, we don't train or TEACH folks TO OBEY Jesus' teaching. [2] We have opted for the easy form of calling people to follow Jesus, which is a form of disciple-making foreign to Jesus or the practice of the New Testament. Then we wonder why so many people claiming to be Christians don't obey God and live godly lives while remaining lukewarm in the faith.

Going to other places, peoples, and cultures is hard and sometimes dangerous. Baptizing people involves a more public response, including a confession. This requires us to go personally rather than tell them from a distance. Training people to obey means investing time and significant chunks of our lives in maturing others in Christ, so we settle for teaching them online or in a Bible class. Jesus, however, reminded us that His plan was rooted in the authority that God gave Him "in heaven and on earth." The Lord wants us to know that this isn't His' "Great Suggestion." We are commanded to obey Jesus. His call was for us to GO on mission to those here, near, and far away with the Good News, BAPTIZE them, and TRAIN them to obey. [3]

You may think, "I'm not a pastor, evangelist, or preacher, so how does this pertain to me? Why is this so important?" As we have seen over the last few days, Jesus wanted us to make a difference in people's lives. He cares about those who do not believe wherever they are, whatever their race, and whenever we are given the opportunity. [4] The Lord longs to see those who are opposed to Him and His people repent, turn to Him, and find salvation. [5] He has sent us to continue His work and follow His example. [6] Our relationship with unbelievers is essential! We are God's salt placed in the world to inhibit its decay, and we are His light sent to drive away Satan's darkness. [7]

We must not underestimate the importance of Jesus' mission for each of us. We must not dilute Jesus' method of accomplishing that mission. Gloriously, however, when we embrace Jesus' love for the lost people in our world, God will bless us with all sorts of people who share eternal life with us and would not have been saved without us! [8]

[1] In Greek, the language of the original New Testament, there is one imperative verb ("make disciples") with three participles that emphasize how we are to make disciples: "going" and "baptizing" and "teaching to obey."
[2] For over three decades, I spoke in churches all over the world and misquoted the Great Commission leaving out the words "to obey," and no one could tell me what I left out.
[3] Acts 1:8.
[4] John 3:16-17.
[5] 1 Peter 3:13-17; Matthew 5:44-48.
[6] John 20:21-23.
[7] Matthew 5:13-16.
[8] Revelation 7:9-14.

Today's Prayer

Father, I know you loved the world so much that You sent the Son to save us. Jesus, please quicken my heart to obey Your Great Commission. Holy Spirit, please empower me as I seek to fulfill it. Open my eyes to see those around me who are hungry for Your grace, O God, and use me to lead them to become disciples and grow in their faith and obedience to Jesus. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Acts 1:1-11
  • John 20:18-29

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Illustration

Illustration of Matthew 28:18-20 NLT — Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.