So how did the first week go for you? Did you learn anything new about what a disciple is? Are you renewing your efforts to be like the Rabbi? We learned that we are commanded to be a follower of Christ. This week we learn about another command. Not only are we commanded to BE a disciple, we are also commanded to disciple others. Don’t forget to follow along: https://www.multiplymovement.com/material.
Part 1: Living as a Disciple Maker: 2: The Command to Make Disciples
Imagine you had been waiting all your life for a promised Messiah who would rescue your people from affliction and rule forever. You had so many expectations of the power and wonder and strength of this Messiah, the Savior of the Jews. And then… you met Jesus. “But He never quite fit anyone’s expectations of what the Messiah would do or say” (27).
The disciples followed Jesus day after day to place after place, through hardships and ridicule. They followed him to the end. And then… he died. Along with all their hopes, all their dreams. Can you imagine the grief? The loss? Not only did they lose a beloved friend, they lost the Savior of their people, the hope of deliverance by God.
And suddenly and few days later, He was alive! In their midst once again. His instruction to them wasn’t quite finished. He had one more command. “Go. Go and make disciples.” If someone came back from the dead to give you one more instruction, one more warning, how would you react?
Discussion Question #1
Stop for a minute and read Matthew 28. Try to place yourself in the disciples’ shoes as they witnessed these things and heard these words from Jesus. How do you think you would have reacted?
The Great Commission and the Church
“Many read [Jesus’s command] as if they were meant to inspire pastors or missionaries on their way out to the mission field… But have you ever considered that maybe Jesus’s command is meant for you?” (29). When we read the rest of the New Testament we see much evidence of the early church carrying out this very command, bring Jesus to the nations, disciples making disciples. So why does there seem to be so little disciple making within today’s church? “Do we really believe that Jesus told His early followers to make disciples but wants the twenty-first century church to do something different?” (30).
Discussion Question #2
Assess your church experience in the light of Jesus’s command to make disciples. Would you say that your church is characterized by disciple making? Why or why not?
More Than a Program
So if we are commanded to make disciples, what does that look like? It’s not just a program that you can sign up at church, attend a couple of weeks and then check it off your list. “A disciple is a disciple maker” (31, emphasis added). There are three parts to the “Great Commission”.
This implies action. You can’t sit still and expect people to just come to you. You have to live Christ. Follow Christ. Teach others to do the same.
2) Baptize People
There are differing opinions today about whether or not baptism is necessary. “But in the early days of the church, baptism was huge. Baptism was an unmistakable act that marked a person as a follower of Jesus Christ. As Jesus died and was buried in earth, so a Christian is plunged beneath the surface of the water. As Jesus emerged from the tomb in a resurrected body, so a Christian comes out of the waters of baptism a a new creation. When first-century Christians took this step of identifying themselves with the death and resurrection of Jesus, they were publicly declaring their allegiance to Christ” (31, emphasis added).
Discussion Question #3
Have you identified yourself with Jesus through being baptized? If so, why do you think this was an important step for you to take? If not, what is holding you back from being baptized?
3) Teach People to Obey Everything Jesus Commanded
Teaching people to become disciples is an enormous task. “Realistically, this will require a lifetime of devotion to studying the Scriptures and investing in the people around us” (32). While this may sound daunting, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. I love bible study and I hope you do to, because it is an occupation that will last you a lifetime. The more we study, the more we draw closer to God, and the more we will want to share with others the amazingness of the gospel. I love to tell people about God. It’s a natural outpouring of a close, intimate relationship with God. And we are never really “done”. There is always more to learn, and more to share. We also never “finish” the disciple-making process. Even when you feel the one your are discipling is ready to go make disciples themselves, the relationship between you does not end there. You can continue to strengthen one another for years to come.
Even though making disciples isn’t a difficult task to understand, it can cost us much. Jesus said:
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, butI chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18-20 NASB).
By sharing Jesus’ message, sometimes we are rejected right along with it.
Discussion Question #4
Would you say that you are ready to commit yourself to studying the Scriptures and investing in the people around you? Why or why not?
Equipped to Do the Work of Ministry
Did you know that it isn’t just your evangelist/pastor/elders/etc’s job to make disciples? Biblically, it is their job to equip the saints to make disciples:
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children,tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:11-16 NASB).
The ESV says “to equip the saints for the work of ministry”. “Paul saw the church as a community of redeemed people in which each person is actively involved in doing the work of ministry… the pastor is the equipper, and every member of the church is a minister” (34).
Sound like a scary task? Don’t worry, God has provided for you. We all have gifts that God has given to us to do the work He has prepared for us. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10 NASB).
Discussion Question #5
What excuses ten to keep you from following Jesus’s command to make disciples? What do you need to do in order to move past these excuses?
Taking the First Step
As you take your first step as a disciple maker, you start to look at the people in your life differently. God has placed each and every person in your life for a reason. Maybe there is someone in your life right now that you can approach in the effort to make a disciple for Jesus.
Discussion Question #6
Whom has God placed in your life right now that you can begin making into a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Working Together to Make Disciples
Even though you have been called to make disciples for Christ and it seems like this big huge task, you don’t have to do it alone. “God wants you to view the other Christians in your life as partners in ministry” (37). Now it’s time to look at the people in your life again, but in a different lens. Instead of looking for who you might disciple, it’s time to look at who might help you disciple others as well as who you might help as they, in turn, disciple others. We were all made to help each other.
Discussion Question #7
Whom has God placed in your life for you to partner with in making disciples?
Discussion Question #8
Spend some time praying that God will make you into a committed and effective disciple maker. Confess any feelings of unpreparedness and insecurity. Ask Him to empower you for the ministry He is calling you to. Ask Him to lead you to the right people to partner with and the right people to begin discipling.
Thanks for joining me this week! I pray that God will bless you this week and guide you to the people you may disciple as well as those who will strengthen you on your journey. 🙂