Sunday, May 10
What if it was this simple?
Scripture: 2 Samuel 19-20, Psalm 55, Matthew 28
Matthew 28:18–20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 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.”
The resurrected Jesus commissions His disciples. This is one of the most important texts for Christians and the church—these are our marching orders, our assignment, our mission. Make disciples of all nations. We have a global commission—we are to reach the world, all nations, all ethnicities. Wherever we go, we make disciples.
How do we do that? Jesus gave us two ways to do this: baptize and teach. The baptism marks the starting point of conversion; we share the gospel and help someone believe in Jesus and be baptized to mark the change. Teaching is the ongoing process of spiritual formation. To be a disciple is to be a learner; to be a learner implies teaching. We make disciples by baptizing and teaching. Baptizing moves them in; teaching moves them on.
But notice the content of the teaching. “Teach them to obey all the commands I’ve given you.” Teach them to obey. Obviously, we have to teach what Jesus said—His words, His commands—because you can’t obey what you don’t know. But Jesus didn’t just say “teach them my commands”—He said, “teach them to obey my commands.” We tend to teach ideas, doctrines, theology, truth—all of it important, valuable, necessary. But a disciple isn’t just someone who knows what Jesus said; a disciple is someone who obeys what Jesus said.
Teach them to obey.
I wonder sometimes if we have made the process of discipleship far more complex than it needs to be. What if it is as simple as sitting down with someone, reading the words of Jesus, and then doing them together? What if our discipleship program was going through the gospels, focusing on the red letters (the words of Jesus), and then obeying what He said. Teach them to obey.
If we did that, we’d make strong disciples.
Obviously we can do more than that. The gospel narrative is essential, especially the passion of Jesus. We can teach from the rest of the Bible, the New Testament in particular. We can draw from church history and the rich heritage of spiritual disciplines, doctrine and theology. There’s more! But…if we don’t at least do this—teach them to obey Jesus—we’ll have failed to do what Jesus commissioned us to do.
Let’s start here: “teach them to obey all the commands I have given you.”
Prayer: Lord, help us keep it simple, reproducible, and effective. Help us to teach people to obey what you said!