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.”
Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
The Great Commission. We’ve heard about it. We’ve read about it. We’ve committed to do it. Yet as my pastor read this passage to us in his message on discipleship, I noticed something I hadn’t focused on before. It’s always been there, but I guess I never really paid attention to it.
What is it? The reason Jesus gives that we are to “go therefore.” As I’ve shared before, the purpose of a “therefore” is to tie what is about to be spoken to what was just stated, for what was just stated is the reason for what is about to be spoken.
In the passage above, before Jesus commanded the disciples (and ultimately us) to go, He gave the reason they could and should go: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. In other words, because all authority is His–because God is powerful–because God is sovereign–because God is more than able–we are to go. We are not to go because we can; we are to go because He can. It’s by His authority and His presence we can go and we can grow. He even reminds us at the end of the commission He will always be with us. This means we can go and make disciples because He is God and He is always with us.
As my pastor shared, making disciples does not happen by simply standing on a street corner preaching Jesus; that’s evangelism. And evangelism is necessary, for evangelism brings people to Jesus. Discipleship, however, is the next step; discipleship helps believers grow in their relationship with God. As followers of Christ, we are to preach the Word; yet we must not neglect discipleship. We must allow God-with-us (Immanuel) to disciple through us.
How, you ask? How are you supposed to make disciples when you feel so unqualified? When your life seems so imperfect? Well, we make disciples when we walk this journey called life arm in arm with each other. The “older” children of God walk alongside the “younger,” growing and learning together. Neither is perfect, but the God they both aspire to serve is. We make disciples when we are the hands and feet of Jesus reaching out and walking alongside our fellow followers.
But we must remember an important point: none of us is qualified. Seriously, no one in and of themselves is truly qualified to disciple. Think about it. Hands and feet cannot act without the brain telling them what to do. Likewise, we in and of ourselves are not qualified to disciple. To try to lead others on our own equates to a blind man trying to lead another blind man through a room neither has ever been; both will stumble.
The only way to make disciples is to be a disciple of the One who controls it all–to be a follower of Jesus and allowing God in you to guide you in your walk with Him and in your walk with others.
I am not sure where you are today in your walk with Jesus. Nevertheless, whether you are new to the faith or “an old-timer,” God calls you to go and make disciples. But you are not to go in your own strength; you are to go in His.
I urge you then, my friend, go. Go therefore into the world today and make disciples as you walk hand-in-hand with your fellow believers. Do not go thinking you can or cannot based on your own qualifications, for none of us is qualified on our own. God is the one who qualifies the called. And He has called you. So go. Go knowing God can–knowing God is more than able. Go therefore knowing “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given” to Jesus and Jesus is “with you always, to the end of the age.”