Digging Deep Into The Great Commission: Part 2

Are all Christians called to be disciples?

Posted by David Wyatt on April 13, 2023 · 4 mins read
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore 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 observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

When Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, He gave the Great Commission to His disciples: to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But does this commission apply solely to the original disciples, or to all Christians throughout history?

The Call to Discipleship in the Gospels

The concept of discipleship is central to the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels. At its core, discipleship involves following Jesus Christ and learning from His teachings, even when they challenge our assumptions and comfort zones. In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus calls His first disciples, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John, by the Sea of Galilee. He tells them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This call is not just an invitation to become Jesus’ followers, but also a mission to spread His message to others. Similarly, in Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This call to self-denial and daily following is not exclusive to the original disciples but extends to all those who wish to follow Jesus and be His disciples.

That leaves only one question: are you a Christian? If so, then the answer is clear: you are called to be a disciple. It’s not a choice, it’s a commandment.

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” - C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. This commandment wasn’t just for the original 12, it’s for all of us who call ourselves followers of Christ. We are to go out into the world and share the Gospel, making disciples of everyone we meet.

But what does it mean to be a disciple? In Mark 8:34-38, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” To be a disciple means to follow Jesus, even if it means denying ourselves and taking up our cross.

“The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Luke 14:27 echoes this sentiment, saying, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Being a disciple requires sacrifice, putting Jesus before our own desires and wants.

And in John 8:31-32, Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Discipleship requires devotion to Jesus and His teachings. It requires us to study and abide in His word so that we can truly know the truth.

So, are Christians called to be disciples? Yes, absolutely. We are commanded to go out into the world and make disciples, following Jesus and His teachings along the way. It’s not always an easy path, but it’s the path that leads to eternal life with our Lord and Savior. Will you answer the call to discipleship?

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