Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This passage, which concludes the Gospel of Matthew, is special to me. As many of you probably know, I returned to the faith twenty years ago after twenty-five years away from God. As I read the Gospel of Matthew and came to this passage that we just read — I heard Jesus say clearly: “Aneel, go make disciples of all nations.” And that began my journey as an evangelist.
These reflections are one of the fruits of my mission, and I hope they have blessed you. As this series ends, may I urge you to fulfill this mission too. It is not an invitation; it is a commission given to all believers and one we must fulfill because we will be called to account for it. “Go,” Jesus commands, “and make disciples of all nations.”
However, we cannot make disciples of anyone unless we are first disciples ourselves. What are the qualifications? There are six instances in Scripture where Jesus specifically speaks about what is expected of a disciple.
One. Jesus says: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). The implication is Jesus has to be numero uno — number one — ahead and before everyone else.
Two. Jesus says, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:33). Just as we don’t put anyone over Jesus, we mustn’t put anything over him.
Three. Jesus says, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). In Jesus’ time, carrying a cross meant only one thing: death. He is asking us to die to ourselves and to the things of the world.
Four. Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31). We can’t hold to his teaching, meaning obey it unless we know his teaching, which implies we need to know Scripture.
Five. Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 157-8). If we are to bear fruit, the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, we need to remain in Christ as branches remain on the vine.
Six. Jesus says, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Jesus loves us with an accepting, forgiving, and self-sacrificing love and asks us to love each other the same way.
None of it is easy if we try to do this using our own effort and will. However, every one among us who has been born again has received the Holy Spirit, who will make it possible. Let him lead you as you set about fulfilling God’s great commission.
Thank you for journeying with me through this series. I hope to start a new one on the Gospel of John soon, and I hope we will travel together again.
Until then, may the Spirit be with you.