And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in
heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching
them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you
always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
We know this Scripture passage well. We quote it all the time. But do we truly
It doesn’t say, “Go and make converts to your way of thinking”. It doesn’t say,
“Go and invite people to your church”. It doesn’t say, “Go hand out tracts on the
street”. Jesus says, “Go and make disciples.” What is a disciple?
There are many ways to describe a disciple. Many books have been written on
discipleship. Jesus described a disciple in this way: “A disciple is not above his
teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like
his teacher, and a servant like his master.” (Matthew 10:24-25a) That’s pretty
clear: a disciple of Jesus will be like Jesus. Easily said, but who can achieve it?
In a single paragraph in the Gospel of Luke Jesus sets out a few basic
requirements for a disciple. He is very specific; He says, “if you don’t do these
things you cannot be my disciple”:
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and
children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Then, after a few verses describing the need to evaluate the cost of any task
before you start it, He sums up the cost of being a disciple:
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Each of these statements are worthy of hours of teaching, but for this
introduction let us simplify. Jesus’ first statement says that our love for Jesus
must be so great, so deep, that our love for our family and even our selves looks
like hate in comparison. His second statement says we must bear all manner of
lies about us, injustice done to us, and humiliation in front of others. His last
statement says we must be willing to give up everything: not just fame and
fortune, but popularity, friends, the comforts of life, even life itself in order to be
This is Christian maturity, but who has seen it in real life? Far too many Christians
aren’t interested in becoming disciples, but merely fulfilling the absolute
minimum requirements for getting into heaven. We hear it in questions like, “Can
I lose my salvation?” (or, to state it differently, “How much sin am I allowed
before losing my salvation? I want to sin, but not too much.”) We hear it in
statements like, “There’s no tithing in the new covenant; that’s part of the law,
and we are not under the law.”
Jesus didn’t some to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). The law said
the first ten percent belonged to God, and Jesus says to forsake all we have –
everything belongs to God. We try to live at the very boundary between “saved”
and “lost”, always staying on the “saved” side, but Jesus is calling us to live and
laugh and love in union with Him at the very center of the kingdom of God.
Disciples live in this heartland, and the thought of losing their salvation never
comes to mind.
Does this mean that inviting people to our church is wrong, or handing out tracts
on the street is wrong? Not at all! But if our goal is only to get people inside the
door of our church – even as members – that’s not a goal, but just an initial step
in a life-changing journey. That step supplies the necessary raw material, but the
hardest and most rewarding part comes next: Make disciples!
Word of God: speak!
Non nobis Domine+
by Fr. Dana Jackson