Why Should We Be Committed to Making Disciples?
September 17, 2023

Why Should We Be Committed to Making Disciples?

Passage: Matthew 28:16-20

Following Jesus

If you have your Bibles with you, please turn to Matthew 28.  Jesus has recently died in the place of sinners on the cross, to pay the penalty for their wrongdoing. He has just risen from the dead to show his victory over death and the devil. And here at the very end of Matthew’s Gospel account, we hear from the mouth of Jesus what He wants His followers to do about it.

Tonight as we think about who Fellowship Reformed Church is, I want to spend a few minutes digging into Jesus’s command, because these verses give us important insight into who He is, what He’s calling us as a church to do, and why we can carry out His mission with confidence.

Jesus’s Identity

In verse 16, Jesus’s disciples climb up to meet him on a mountain, and verse 17 tells us, when they arrived, they did something that might sound unusual: “when they saw him, they worshiped him.” They bowed down and adored Him as divine. And this gives us important insight into Jesus’s identity. [If you like taking notes, this is my first point – this passage first tells us about Jesus’s identity.]

Jesus was not merely a man. Was he a man? Absolutely. Was he a Jewish rabbi who taught about God’s law? Of course. Was he, perhaps, even a special prophet of God who revealed heavenly wisdom, who performed miracles to prove his message was authentic? – Yes, the Bible affirms this is also true. But Jesus was not just a man, just a teacher, just a prophet. Jesus Christ was – and is, also truly divine.

This is why, when his followers fall down to worship him, Jesus doesn’t turn them away. He doesn’t say, “Whoa, guys – I’m just a man like you – you need to be worshipping God.” No, Jesus receives their worship, because the Historic Nicene Creed of the early church rightly affirms that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of Gods, Light of Light, very God of very God, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Jesus is truly human – he truly died in the place of sinful humanity, and rose from death with a new, immortal human body. And Jesus is also truly divine.

He deserves our worship. He deserves our lifelong loyalty and obedience to his instructions.

Jesus’s Instructions

And in verse 19, Jesus gives important instructions to his followers – to his disciples. [This is my second point: Jesus’s Instructions]. He says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”

The main command here is actually Make disciples. “When you go – as you’re going – there’s something I want you to do,” Jesus says. “I want you to make disciples.” I want you to train people to be followers of God, by teaching them to follow me.

This command may strike you as being unpleasant – maybe even offensive. It’s been offensive in every season of human history, but this pill is especially hard for Americans to swallow: Jesus wants us to follow Him – and to teach others to be followers.

The world says, “Be a trailblazer! Abandon the old paths of your parents! Don’t listen to what anyone else tells you! Be self-governed, self-defining, self-reliant – that’s the way to freedom! That’s the way to happiness!” But Jesus indicates the exact opposite is true. His people find their strength, their joy, and their everlasting wellness, not by rejecting God, but by receiving Him – not by trying to lead themselves, but through following Him.

Will you follow Jesus? Will you encourage others to follow Him? Jesus wants people of every nation to hear about what He’s done! Not just people who look like us, or already think like us – but he wants His light to shine in dark places – in the Northern mountains of India, in the furnace of the Somalian desert, even in little Old Mount Pleasant, MI – and this task is bigger than one person. It’s a task that God has given to his assembled followers – this is the great mission of His Church.

But how will our church, or any other faithful church, do this disciple-making task that Jesus has asked us to do? We can’t discuss every detail, but I’ll give you two essential things from our text.

First, Jesus says, “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Baptism is a Christian ceremony where people are washed with water in the Triune Name of God [Father, Son, Holy Spirit]. And that water reminds them that anyone who trusts in the cleansing work of Jesus is completely washed of their guilt and shame. That water shows they’ve been set apart from the unbelieving world to belong to God and to make his covenant promises their own through faith.

But those who are set apart by baptism – they don’t just become disassociated with the unbelieving world – they also become associated with God and with His assembled people – with His Church. We want to raise up followers of Jesus who understand – we don’t follow Him alone, but in the context and community of a bible-believing local church.

And the second essential part of making disciples here is this: We should be teaching them to observe all Jesus has commanded. As a church, this means we can’t pick and choose some parts of the Bible to talk about and care about, and other parts of the Bible to ignore. No, we want to work through the full counsel of Scripture – the hard passages, the difficult questions, the unpopular positions – as well as the passages that seem easier and more attractive – none of it should be neglected.

So here at Fellowship Reformed Church, the Bible will be preached a section at a time, unpacking verse by verse, with the goal of being faithful to God. And my hope is that, in time, it will help you to understand God’s Word, to love God’s Word, and to apply the God’s Word. My hope is that you and I will be equipped to discern the difference between truth and error – to better study the Bible on our own – to explain the good news of the Bible to others, and to live it out. Those who understand the authority and goodness of Christ will want to faithfully follow Jesus, and will want to teach others to do the same.

Jesus’s Encouragement

But let me close with two closing encouragements that Jesus gives. [This is my 3rd and Final Point: Jesus’s Encouragement]. First, in verse 18: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” Jesus’s power and influence spoken about here – it’s not just a warning for those who neglect to take His word seriously – it’s intended to be a comfort to us. News companies and colleges and governments and nations – all these might oppose our message. But the great King who rules the universe will not permit His plan to fail, or his people to be put to shame on the Final Day. Those who are right with Christ are on the right side of History.

Another encouragement appears at the end of verse 20, “And behold” [Jesus says] I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Will he leave us? No. Will he forget about us? Negative. Will he give his sheep over to the wolves and abandon them? Never. He is with us – with us in the fiery furnace – with us as we’re surrounded by the armies of Egypt, or the hordes of Assyria – with us as we travel from this life across the Jordan River into the Promised Land – with us by His Spirit, as a guarantee of the good things to come. So lean into His vast power and his near presence – and follow him. Teach others to follow him. This is what we’re called to as the Church of Christ. So let’s pray and ask him for His help.

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