Thursday, January 6, 2011

Go and Make Disciples

Matt. 28:16-20 NLT  
     16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! 
     18 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.”

Of all the things Jesus taught his disciples this last instruction is most paramount. It was not to the masses that Jesus said this, but to his closest friends-- his disciples. Jesus had promised that, while departing from the earth in physical form he would soon return in the Holy Spirit to fill them, empower and equip them and remain with them always, never again departing from them. This was the first part of that event, his Ascension, back to the Right Hand of God, from where He had come in the incarnation and immaculate conception with Mary. Note his directives.

First he tells them that he has been "given all authority." All means ALL. There is nothing in the earth, nor in all creation that is outside of the authority of God. In effect, Jesus was announcing yet once again that He is God. No other religious leader of the world's great religions ever claimed such a thing. None of the other religions teach about their respective founders in the same way that this teaches about Jesus Christ. He was and IS God.

Next, he announces that, since he has ultimate authority, they are commanded to do something. This want not a nice suggestion. It was not a request. It was what they had been prepared for. And, upon the entering within us of God's Holy Spirit, it is what you and I have been prepared for as well. We are commanded to go-- wherever it is that our feet might take us in this world, and 'make disciples. How does one make a disciple? How were you made into a disciple? Someone shared good news with you, prayed for you, remained an example for  you, and then was there to teach you when you were ready. That is what we are directed to do for others.

After making disciples we are directed to baptise them.  Some churches only permit their ordained clergy to conduct a rite of Baptism. However, I believe this passage authorizes YOU to conduct the rite of Baptism when it is you who has,  through the power of the Holy Spirit, produced a disciple. And it is not in your own name that you baptize the disciple-- they are not YOUR disciple. They are another disciple of the Lord. Thus we are to conduct this baptism in the "name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  Discipling does not end at the baptism. Next we are to continue to nurture these disciples with the truths of Christ that we, ourselves have been taught.  Sounds pretty clear to me. How about you?

Are you ready? God is ready for you to begin.
Your servant in Christ's love

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