Updated: May 27, 2019
“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.” Matt 28:18-20
The last command that Jesus gives His disciples before He ascends into heaven is called the Great Commission, as seen above in Matthew 28. Here Jesus tells His disciples to go and make more disciples. Notice that this command is enclosed in the acknowledgement of God’s authority and His promised presence. Given who God is then, this command is not optional, and it is accomplishable. This command was not just for the eleven disciples, but is for all believers.
To make a disciple, one must first understand what it means to be a disciple. The standard definition of a disciple, is someone who adheres to the teachings of another. In Jesus’ day, a disciple, or a follower, would go everywhere their teacher went and do everything their teacher did. The goal would be to become just like that teacher. Being a disciple of Jesus, likewise, is obeying His call to follow Him and then becoming like Him in the process. It is to increasingly know Jesus such that He shapes every aspect of your life. As Jesus says in John 8:31, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Discipleship is the process of making disciples. It is individuals investing in other individuals, teaching them and walking with them as they mature in their faith. As Francis Chan describes, “It’s a simple as going to people, encouraging them to follow Jesus, and then teaching them to obey Jesus’ commands.” This must be done; however, lovingly and humbly, remembering that it is only the Holy Spirit that can truly transform a life.
The key to discipleship is love. As we love others, that love motivates us to bring people to Jesus where He can set them free and transform them. There are then two practical aspects of discipleship - modeling and teaching. The mentor must teach first by example and model Christ-like behavior that can be imitated. Matthew 5:16 instructs us to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” See also Hebrews 13:7. The second aspect of discipleship is teaching. The Word of God and the doctrines of the faith must be taught. We see this modeled by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” As we love, model, and teach others the Holy Spirit will transform us all into the image of the Son.
We at The Open Room take the command in Matthew 28 literally and seriously. In fact, making disciples is at the heart of everything we do - it is our mission. We believe that for discipleship to be effective it must be intentional and relational. If you would like to enter into a discipleship relationship, please speak with one of The Open Room staff. We would be happy to assist in arranging one-on-one discipleship using Multiply by Francis Chan or the Design for Discipleship material by The Navigators .
For further reflection, meditate on John 15:8, Luke 14:27, and Matthew 13:34-35