The term discipleship is probably familiar to most Christians. We know about the disciples who followed Jesus. We often hear about discipleship classes and programs. And we have probably heard on numerous occasions about the Great Commission that calls us to make disciples. Since the word is so common and the theme is addressed throughout Scripture, you would think we would be very clear in our minds what it looks like to be a disciple and what it means to be discipled. Nevertheless, it seems that discipleship means a lot of different things to different people.
Over the next several weeks, our articles will be focused on discipleship. Today we will consider the mandate to make disciples. This responsibility falls upon every person who is in Christ. It is not an optional assignment. It is, in part, what it means to be a Christian.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
These are the instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples after His resurrection. It is the mission of the church. On one hand it requires world evangelism. But evangelism is only the beginning. Once a person responds to the gospel message, we are to make them disciples. Part of being a disciple is to be baptized and to learn and observe all that God has commanded. The clue that the Lord is speaking both to the disciples at that time as well as all who would come after them is the last phrase: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
In Jesus’s High Priestly prayer, he prays for the believers who were with Him as well as for those who would come to believe at a later time.
“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; …”
Jesus’ life provides a perfect picture of what discipleship looks like. On one hand, Jesus gave very clear instructions concerning discipleship. On the other hand, He modeled discipleship throughout the course of His ministry.
As we begin this series, ask yourself some questions. Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? What do you believe constitutes being a disciple? Are you investing your life discipling others? What specifically are you doing to make disciples?