Something Bigger Than Ourselves
2 min read
Something Bigger Than Ourselves
Following Jesus as disciples is not primarily about our holiness or growth. It’s about Jesus and his mission. Jesus calls us to himself and to his purposes, and in doing so he invites us out of our puny personal ambitions and into something bigger than ourselves.
After Jesus rose from the dead, he gathered his disciples to give them his definitive statement on the mission of the church:
Making disciples of Jesus means showing and teaching people who are far from Jesus how to follow Jesus in every area of life.
This passage is often referred to as “the great commission.” But what, exactly, is Jesus commissioning his disciples to do? It’s actually easier to see the focus of this passage in its original language—Greek. There are four verbs: “go,” “make disciples,” “baptize,” and “teach.” But in Greek, only one verb is an imperative (a command), while the other three are participles (supporting verbs). Most people assume the command is “go.” That’s the great commission, right? To go to the nations?
The central command in this passage is actually “make disciples.” That is the great commission. Jesus’ primary command is to “make disciples” and to do this as we go by baptizing and teaching.
So if the church’s primary purpose is “making disciples,” then what, exactly, does that phrase mean?
Mission and Maturity
Making disciples of Jesus means showing and teaching people who are far from Jesus how to follow Jesus in every area of life. This process encompasses both meeting Jesus and maturing in Jesus. It’s important to point this out because some people assume “make disciples” refers only to sharing the gospel, or only to growing in faith. Making disciples, however, refers both to becoming a disciple and growing as one. The call is to be on mission with Christ and to be maturing in Christ.
This dual approach is evident in Jesus’ commission to his disciples. He tells them to make disciples, then gives two other commands that define what making a disciple means: baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that he commanded. Baptism is a picture of conversion: dying to self and being raised again to life with Christ. And Jesus’ commission to teach people to observe all he commanded shows the comprehensive nature of being and growing as a disciple of Jesus. It takes a lifetime.
Of course, it is ultimately the power of the gospel that transforms lives and makes people followers of Jesus. Our part is to witness to the life-changing power of Jesus and allow God to use us in his process of doing in others what he has done in our lives.
This excerpt was taken from Follow Me, an accessibly written book which explains what discipleship is all about in a way that anyone can understand.
Follow Me by Jeremy Treat
This short, clear and visual book unpacks what it means to be a disciple of Christ and guides Christians down the path of following their king.
About the Author
Jeremy Treat (PhD, Wheaton College) is Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Reality LA in Los Angeles, California, and Adjunct Professor of Theology at Biola University. He is also the author of The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology.