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encouragement theology

Go Make Disciples!

Thoughts from Matthew 28…

Matthew 28:16-20
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This is a well-known and beloved passage. This conclusion of Matthew 28, known as the “Great Commission”, serves as an epilogue of the life of Jesus Christ. Matthew has followed the ministry of Jesus Christ from His birth, through His great sermons, through His ministry in Galilee, to the commissioning of His disciples, to the people’s rejection, to the training of His closest followers, to His journey to Jerusalem, and ultimately culminating in His death on the cross. But the account doesn’t end there, as three days later — much to the surprise and amazement of his followers — Jesus rose from the dead and met with them. Matthew then recorded this final scene as followers gathered on a mountain in Galilee.a They had left Jerusalem to travel north to this meeting place when Jesus came to them.b

The gathering is small and the message is simple, but Jesus was leaving them with one command: go make disciples! As you go into the world, make disciples and stay with them, baptizing and teaching them. But you are not alone. He will be with you until the end of the world!

This is the only command in this scene — make disciples! These men had learned firsthand what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. They traveled with Him, lived with Him, and absorbed His teaching for over three years. They had times of wisdom and times of foolishness, times when they were faithful and times when they ran away. But through it all, they learned what it meant to be a disciple. They listened to His instruction, and obeyed His commands. They followed Him when He was popular and when He was an outcast. They suffered with Him and endured hardship with Him, and when they didn’t understand, they learned to trust in Him.

And now Jesus sent them out to make new disciples. And as these new disciples follow the Lord Jesus Christ, so they themselves are to make new disciples of our Lord. As they learned to listen, obey and follow Him, so they are to teach others to listen, obey and follow Him.

As this command was passed to others, so it passes to us. We are to make disciples as we go into the world. We need to reflect Jesus Christ to others wherever we go, whether it be in worship or in the marketplace. Whether we are in our hometown or in a foreign land. Wherever we are, we are to make disciples.

We are to baptize and teach the new disciples. It’s not enough to look for a decision to accept Jesus Christ, but we also need to help these new followers grow. It starts with baptism. They show their faith publicly as they take the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. They identify with the holy God who sent us. We also need to teach them all of Jesus’ commands. We need to follow and teach everything that Jesus taught His first disciples. We obey all of His commands — the easy as well as the difficult, and we trust Him in comfort as well as hardship. The true disciple does not concern himself with his personal comfort or safety, but rather follows the Lord with a whole heart.

And why should we make disciples? Jesus started out His instruction by showing who He is. Get a glimpse of Jesus Christ and all His glory and all His authority, and follow that vision to lead others. Jesus was more than just a great teacher or a noble healer. He was God himself! He has all authority in heaven and all authority on earth — He is in charge of everything! He is equal to God the Father and the Holy Spirit! He is nothing less than God himself! This is why you need to bring others to follow Him!

And finally, know that we are not alone. Jesus Christ, and all His authority and power as God, will be with us every step of the way. He will never leave us nor turn away from us. He will be with us to the very end!

“Christianity is a missionary faith. The very nature of God demands this, for God is love, and God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).” – Warren Wiersbe3

“The world is to be evangelized, not by men invested with ecclesiastical dignities and with parti-colored garments, but by men who have experienced the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and who are visibly endued with the divine power of wisdom, and love, and zeal.” – A.B. Bruce11

“…we are called to represent Him in this world, going to rebels against the authority of the God of heaven and earth, and pleading with them to be reconciled to Him who sent His Son in grace that all men might have life and peace through Him.” – H.A. Ironside2

“Let us embrace this truth reverently and cling to it firmly. Christ is He who has the keys of death and hell. Christ is the anointed High Priest who alone can absolve sinners. Christ is the fountain of living waters in whom alone we can be cleansed. Christ is the Prince and Savior who alone can give repentance and remission of sins. In Him all fullness dwells. He is the Way, the Door, the Light, the life, the Shepherd, and the altar of refuge. He that has the Son has life, and he that has not the Son has not life.” – J.C. Ryle12

“It isn’t a question of emotion – it is a question of submission.” – John MacArthur8

Previous post: He is Risen!


References

[1] Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold The King, Kregel Publications, 1980, Matthew 28:16-20, pages 316-320

[2] H.A. Ironside, Ironside Expository Commentaries, Matthew 28, The Risen King and the Royal Commission

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament, David C. Cook, 2007, Matthew 28:16-20, pages 86-87

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament, David C. Cook, 2007, Mark 16:1-18, pages 134-135

[5] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XVII: ‘ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD: HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN’ (St. Matt. 28: 1-10; St. Mark 16: 1-11; St. Luke 24: 1-12; St. John 20: 1-18; St. Matt. 28: 11-15; St. Mark 16: 12, 13; St. Luke 24: 13-35; 1 Cor. 15: 5; St. Mark 16: 14; St. Luke 24: 36-43; St. John 20: 19-25; St. John 20: 26-29; St. Matt. 28: 16; St. John 21: 1-24; St. Matt. 28: 17-20; St. Mark xvi. 15-28; 1 Cor. 15: 6; St. Luke 24: 44-53; St. Mark 16: 19, 20; Acts 1: 3-12.), https://www.ccel.org/ccel/edersheim/lifetimes.x.xvii.html

[6] Doug Bookman, Life of Christ, Audio Series, Lecture 14, https://www.christianity.com/jesus/life-of-jesus/harmony-of-the-gospels/39-forty-days-until-the-ascension.html

[7] John MacArthur, The Making Disciples of All Nations, Part 1, Matthew 28:16-18a, Jun 2, 1985

[8] John MacArthur, The Making Disciples of All Nations, Part 2, Matthew 28:18b-20, Jun 9, 1985

[9] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson, 2005, Matthew 28:11-20, pages 1185-1186

[10] D.A. Carson, Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Zondervan, 2010, Matthew 28:11-20

[11] A.B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, T. & T. Clark, 1871, pages 379-384

[12] J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on The Gospel of Matthew, Ankeo Press, pages 344-348

[13] John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, SP Publications, 1983, Matthew 28:11-20, pages 93-94


Notes

[a] This was the final scene in Matthew’s Gospel account but not Jesus’ final scene with His disciples. This scene in Matthew 28 was on a mountain in Galilee, while Jesus’ final scene on earth was with His disciples in Bethany (see Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:8-11).

[b] Matthew 28:16 indicates that the eleven disciples were at this scene, but there may have been many other disciples of Jesus also present.3 9 The “some doubted” in Matthew 28:17 could have been from other disciples who were not yet convinced of the resurrection. In addition, many commentators believe this was the time that Jesus appeared to more than 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6).2 3 6

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