Making Disciples – Part 2

-by Tim Bias

Read Part 1

God Sent Jesus to Teach Us How to Live the Holy Life

Holiness is a major part of Matthew’s gospel.  Matthew calls it “righteousness” or “holiness.”  The word “holiness” comes from a Greek word which means “set apart” or “different.”  For Matthew, being a Christ follower means that you and I are “set apart” in our living.  We live differently because we see the world (our families, enemies, communities, etc.) and the people of the world differently. We love differently, relate differently, and interact differently than the world around us. As Christ followers we have been set apart to love as God has loved us in and through Jesus. That’s holiness. The question is, “I am set apart for what?”

Could it be that we are set apart for a holy life? Let’s explore Matthew 28:16-20 a little closer.

One way to view the word “therefore” in scripture is to ask “what is it there for?”  It refers back to something earlier.  In this case, Christ is our authority in regard to “holy living.” Matthew gives us instruction on what to do as Christ followers.  The instructions are as follows:

  1. “Go and make disciples of all nations”…
  • Go – The word “go” literally means “as you go.”  It carries with it both presence and movement. The idea here is that wherever you are at any particular time is the place and time.  As you go…to the office, to school, to the grocery story, on vacation, etc. These are the times and places for “making disciples” or living the Christ-like life.
  • Make Disciples – The word “disciple” means “student.” In the gospels and The Acts of the Apostles the word disciple occurs over 250 times. Every reference is connected to a person, and overwhelmingly that person is Jesus. Being a student of Jesus has both personal and community implications. A disciples is a person who engages in the means of grace, works of piety and works of mercy, and the disciplines of the Christian faith. As simple as it might sound, a disciple is a “grace-filled follower of Christ who puts faith into action.”  We practice the love of Jesus so we may become like Jesus. If we go further and look to the Gospel of John, we’ll see followers of Jesus are known by the way they love one another. So, to “make disciples” means to connect people to Jesus Christ so that we all learn how to love like Jesus and engage in that love in the places we live, work, and associate with people.
  • Nations – The word “nations” literally means “ethnic groups” or “people”.  It is an all-inclusive word.  It includes everyone.

As you go, wherever you are, include everyone in becoming students who practice loving as Jesus loves and invite everyone to join you in becoming “grace-filled” Christ followers who put Christian faith and love into action.

  1. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”…
  • Baptizing – The words “to baptize” carry with them something more than water baptism.  “To baptize” means to immerse or to saturate.  To baptize them or to baptize those who are becoming Christ followers means to immerse them or saturate them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – The words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit refers to the movement of God.

We are instructed to immerse those becoming Christ followers in the movement of God.  We are instructed to saturate them in God’s love as experienced in and through Jesus Christ.  So, wherever you are or whatever you are doing you have the opportunity to love everyone. You have the opportunity to invite everyone to learn of Jesus and to immerse them in God’s love in such a way they too will love everyone, invite everyone to learn of Jesus, and saturate them in God’s love.

  1. “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”
  • Teaching – The word “teaching” in this place refers to what Matthew wants us to know about “holiness”.  It is what we learn as Christ followers. It is what the movement of God is all about.  At the very heart of “holiness” or “righteousness” is being in relationship with God and with one another.
    • This “holy living” or different living means right relationship with family, friends, strangers, and enemies.  It includes being proactive in how we treat others.  We act on behalf of others not because they have acted on our behalf but because, holy living calls for loving others as we have been loved by God.
    • This “holy living” means having respect for oneself in such a way that our “yes” means “yes” and our “no” means “no”.  It means that we are not conflicted but integrated in our living.  What we are living on the outside in our relationships grows from the convictions of our hearts.
    • This “holy living” means not getting tripped up on things, but to seeking first the kingdom of God or the “holiness” of God.
    • This “holy living” means caring for others in such a way that you are caring for Jesus himself.  The catch is that caring for others becomes so natural that we don’t even know that we are caring for Jesus.  We care because that is who we are or who we have become.  We care not to become “holy” but because we are “holy, because we are different.
    • This “holy living” means being proactive in forgiveness.  It actually means to forgive as many times as it takes to restore the relationships that are being broken.  It is the relationship that is important.
  • To obey – The words “to obey” mean “to observe” or to “pay attention to.”  To obey “these things” refers to the teaching on “holy living.”  To obey these things means to observe or pay attention to this holy living.  It is easy to talk about this “holy living” but it is not so easy to live it.  To “obey” or “pay attention” means to do or to live these things.  It means to make these “holy living” habits a part of our daily living.
  1. “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
  • The greatest part of this “holy living” is that we are not left alone to do these things on our own.  The Risen Christ is with us.  “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” God does not leave us alone to fend for ourselves.  The very birth of Jesus is announced as “and they shall name him Emmanuel which means, ‘God is with us.’” The mission of making disciples is God’s mission. We have been invited to participate in God’s mission.  If God calls us, God will equip us.  If God calls us and equips us, God will be with us to see us through, even to the end.
So, “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
As you go, wherever you go, be a student of Jesus. With every person you encounter, be a grace-filled Christ follower who puts faith into action. Immerse your life in the ways of Jesus so you are a reminder of the love of Jesus. Be in a right relationship with God and each other. Pay attention to the people and circumstances around you. And, remember, God is with you. So let it be.
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