Remember the assignment: “Go and make disciples”

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Remember the assignment: “Go and make disciples”

March 12, 2024 -

Two men bow their heads in prayer while sitting on a park bench. One man holds a closed Bible in his left hand while his right hand is on the other man's shoulder. By Lydia/stock.adobe.com

Two men bow their heads in prayer while sitting on a park bench. One man holds a closed Bible in his left hand while his right hand is on the other man's shoulder. By Lydia/stock.adobe.com

Two men bow their heads in prayer while sitting on a park bench. One man holds a closed Bible in his left hand while his right hand is on the other man's shoulder. By Lydia/stock.adobe.com

As a new believer in a Baptist church, I often heard messages on the Great Commission:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)

I heard such messages so often because that was our pastor’s driving passion in life.

He not only loved to make disciples, but by the number of people who had come to faith and their growth in maturity, he was actually good at it. The Holy Spirit was using him in an inspiring way to reach people, even the people who many believed could never be reached.

So yes, I learned this passage within the first few months of trusting Jesus as my Savior.

Two deep realizations

Truth be told, I felt the Great Commission before I ever learned it.

When a student minister shared the news of Jesus with me as a thirteen-year-old and I came to faith, a couple of things struck me as he spoke.

1. I was, in fact, a sinner.

Nothing prepared me for the astonishment that I was not prepared to stroll into eternity. There would be no “thou art with me” of Psalm 23 that I’d heard at every funeral because I wasn’t “with him,” that is, Jesus. Up until that time, I had assumed that. I went to church occasionally and had even been baptized (way up there in the baptistry) and was on the role as a certifiable member, but I didn’t have Jesus. I didn’t until the Spirit of God convicted me and I realized Jesus died for me because I needed him.

2. I needed to tell people I knew what had just happened to me.

Maybe it’s not that way for everyone, but, for me, it was only rational that information this big needed to be shared. So, it’s true: I felt the Great Commission, the need, even the drive, to share the gospel before I knew Jesus had told me to do it.

I recently stated as much in a sermon one Sunday at my church and asked our folks to remember their conversion and the weight of importance that a message this good needed to be given to everyone.

That’s what the command of Jesus tells us to do.

Do we understand the assignment?

It’s an assignment that presupposes we will obey Jesus. He’s a wonderful Savior, and he is no less a wonderful Lord to obey. At the heart of the commandment is that we make disciples, or learners.

A simple way to view it is that we are to be instructing others in the way of following Jesus. That means they have to start in the way of Jesus, believing him and accepting his gift of forgiveness and new life, which is possible because he died for our sins and rose as a victor over death.

But equally important in this command is the “Go” part.

The real matter

When I was in seminary, there was talk about interpreting “go” as “as you are going.” I think that telling the news of Jesus in our everyday life as we go about normal activities is great, and it would be amazing if every Christian did that.

But the real matter is we have to go.

We have to take Christ into our world of friendships and relationships and to people who haven’t heard or, like I was, had never heard and understood.

Your assignment

We never go alone.

One of the things I have loved as a Christian and obeying the assignment is the very real understanding of Christ’s presence as I prayerfully share the gospel. I say prayerfully because I continue to ask for wisdom and grace to love the person even as I share Christ. No one ever said it was easy, but the understanding that we are obeying and Jesus is with us is a difficult combination to beat.

The assignment is, to put it another way, to move yourself to share Jesus.

What was so natural for me as a brand-new believer can be dulled by ordinary daily life. Is it any wonder then that Jesus, knowing the way we are, didn’t just depend on our emotions, didn’t tell us to go make disciples when we feel like it, but made it a command?

Christendom has understood its importance for so long that we call it the Great Commission.

Share the best news

We must never lose our focus on the necessity of faith in Christ.

The New Testament heralds this from the earliest days of Jesus’ public ministry. Mark 1:14–15 records this summation of Jesus’ first sermons: “After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (CSB).

Acts 2 records Peter’s first post-resurrection sermon. When the people cried out from Holy Spirit conviction, Peter was clear about the urgent response needed: “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (v. 38).

As we head into this Easter season, let’s be bold in sharing this “best news” and urging people to both believe and respond with confession, repentance, faith, and commitment.

Let’s also equip our people to communicate this news of Jesus with intentional courage, clarity, and compassion.

Remember the assignment.

It’s a great one.

It will change others to hear it, and it will change us to obey it.

More by Gerald Griffin

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