Begetting Disciples of Christ Mat. 28:18-20
Take now your Bible and make your way to Mat. 28. It’s the final chapter of Matthew’s gospel.
We are in a special series on one of the most significant issues for us individually and for us as a church- biblical discipleship.
Last week we dealt with the starting point, what it means to truly be a disciple of Christ. It’s one who is a learner of Christ and follows Him. In a nutshell, if you don’t truly love to learn from and follow Christ, you aren’t saved.
But if you follow Christ by faith shown in obedience to His Word, then you are a true disciple.
From the way Christ sees it, that’s the starting point. Because it’s not enough just to BE a disciple. Christ calls you to BEGET disciples.
Not far from here in Dearborn, Ford has a plant for manufacturing pickups.
Some of you may have toured that facility.
Imagine if on a visit there you see all kinds of machines, automized robots, spray booths, and lots of workers busily manning every station. Yet strangely you didn’t see any pickups in production.
And when the tour guide takes you to the end of the assembly line, to your surprise, you don’t see a fleet of freshly painted trucks ready for new car lots.
So you say: “That’s an amazing plan. But where are the new trucks that have been made?
And she tells you, “O, we like the idea of making trucks. But our workers are busy doing lots of things; that’s what matters, isn’t it?”
Well, friends, it depends on the goal, doesn’t it? And by the way, every 54 seconds, a Ford F-150 comes off the line at the Dearborn plant. That total over 3,000 new trucks that roll out of that plant every week! Their mission is to make trucks, and that’s what they are doing! But what about us as Christians? What about us as a church? How are we doing in our mission of making disciples?
I read this week that on average, in a given year it takes 100 church attendees and a pastor to win 1.7 converts.
Well one person looking at the failure of the church to fulfill its God-given mission remarked,
“Any other business would have gone bankrupt long ago!”
Friends as it’s been said, “When all else fails we need to read the directions!”
So, let’s look to God’s Word where He shows us what is to be our mission in this world.
What’s to be the driving purpose to fulfill as God’s people this side of heaven?
What big goal has He called each of us as His children to pursue every day of our lives?
We find the answer in Mat. 28:16-20.
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
These glorious word of Christ conclude this first gospel with a blaze of glory!
And here Matthew, the writer, clinches his argument of the entire book: Jesus Christ shines forth as the long-awaited Messiah!
And that produces great 1. Adoration 16-17
We know where Christ spoke these unforgettable words.
Our text says it was on a mountain in Galilee, which tells us those present walked 70 miles north from Jerusalem to get there.
In the Bible, we find that mountains are significant in God communicating with man.
God gave Moses the 10 commandments from atop Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19).
Christ revealed His radiant shekinah glory from the mount of transfiguration (Mt. 17).
And here it’s at a mountain in Galilee where Christ gathers His followers to impart these momentous words. Jesus, as recorded in Mat. 26:32, while in the Upper Room with His disciples, promised them He would meet them in Galilee.
And look at verse 7 of our chapter where the angel at the tomb tells the two Marys: “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”
Their hearts are beating with joy as they run to tell that to the disciples.
And on the way, whom do they run into? Jesus! After they fall before His feet and worship Him, note what Jesus says to them. Verse 10: “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
Now when Christ says “My brethren” that term isn’t limited to the apostles.
It would have included them plus all other true believers there in Jerusalem.
For that reason, the “more than 500 brethren” mentioned in I Cor. 15:6 who saw the risen Christ, they would have most likely also come to see Christ’s here in Galilee.
And look at how that dovetails perfectly with the mixed response to Christ in verse 17.
We are told that “they” (that’s the 11 disciples) worshipped Him. But some (a small minority from the large crowd) were doubtful.”
Why the doubting? Well the term for doubting here (distazo), it’s the same word Christ uses of the disciples in the storm-tossed boat on Galilee (Mat. 8:26) when they thought they were going to die.
It’s not intellectual unbelief but hesitation and fear in an impossible situation.
So, some who saw Jesus there on the mount in Galilee are stunned by what seems to good to be true!
They know Jesus has risen from the dead. For Christ had already proved that to the disciples (including Thomas) in Jerusalem after His resurrection.
Their doubting may well have been over whether the one they see approaching is the risen Christ.
Well, most there see Christ for whom He is. And they respond as did the 2 Marys in verse 9. They fall down and worship Him!
That’s so significant. So keep this in mind- the right heart attitude for hearing the Great Commission is worship. For that’s what Christ followers here do even before He speaks to them.
And that’s what the redeemed of Rev. 5 will do when they gather before the worthy Lamb; that’s the exalted Christ on His throne. They fall down before Him in worship! (Rev. 5:8, 14).
I pray that’s the posture of your heart before the Lord as He speaks to us about this matter of the great commission. “God, I just want to worship You in my life. I submit myself to what You want for me!”
For these are the words and will of Christ for all His true disciples- then and now.
From the adoration of worship to the 2. Authority v. 18
We dare not miss the foundation upon which Christ’s Great Commission is built- it is His personal authority.
These are the first words that flow from Jesus’ lips and break the silence: “All authority has been given to Me.”
That authority (exousia) speaks of ruling power. It’ both the right and ability to reign.
It’s the lordship one wields over a certain domain.
In Christ’s ministry He showed His authority in multiple ways:
He had authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10).
Christ had authority to expel demons (Luke 4:36).
And Christ teaching was marked by authority (Mat. 7:29).
Even the Sanhedrin noted Christ’s authority in cleansing the Temple (Mk. 11:28).
Christ, John 10:18, tells us even had authority to lay down and take up his life
And John in the opening chapter of his gospel declares, “But as many as received Him (Christ), to them He gave the right (authority) to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12
Wow, Christ has and gives authority to those He calls to be God’s children!
All that is supernatural power that does what no mere man could ever do.
But friends, all Christ showed in His incarnation (before the cross), He as God becoming man, gave only a limited display of His divine power and greatness.
Yet, now as Christ speaks to His followers, there’s a world of a difference. For He exclaims, “ALL authority has been given to me.”
And Christ emphasizes how far that supernatural power extends- “in heaven and on earth.”
That’s a merism (of 2 extremes and everything in between) meaning everywhere!
Now watch how big Christ’s authority really is.
Everything that happens in heaven is under that absolute sovereign power of Christ.
Christ is the judge of the living and the dead. Christ is the one who will sentence you and me to either heaven or hell.
And Christ is the One who from His throne will reward each of us for every good work done in His strength.
Thus, when we speak of heavenly authority- Christ possesses it all.
People now and then claim to have had vision of Christ in heaven. And they describe him in so many different ways.
I came across an interesting website entitled “Dreams and Visions of Jesus.” There are over 50 pages of people from all over the world describing how they saw Jesus in a dream or vision.
I read dozens of them. Here’s one sample. A girl named Sharma wrote: “I was standing at the bank of a river, and I saw Jesus lying under the water as if sleeping. I was afraid that He might drown because he was just like when he walked the earth as a man. I started crying out to him, Father, Father, and each time he raised his head and looked up at me as if saying, I am alright.”
Here’s what was so clear. That with the rest of the many visions recounted picture a weak and soft view of Jesus Christ. Great authority and power is missing.
Beloved, how should you picture Christ in His heavenly reign?
The way John does in Revelation 1:14–17. He writes, “His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like
a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”
And one more description of the absolute authority of the exalted Christ:
Daniel 7:14 tells us, “And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”
Christ not only possesses all authority in heaven but also all authority on earth.
That means at this very moment, Christ wields universal sovereignty over everything in the universe.
He has authority over every nation, king, prime minister, and president. Spurgeon insightfully stated, “Power in the hands of some people is dangerous, but power in the hands of Christ is blessed. Oh, let him have all power! Let him do what he will with it, for he cannot will anything but that which is right, and just, and true, and good.”
Christ’s all-inclusive authority also reigns over nature. He has authority over earthquakes, droughts and floods. He has authority over the rain and snow and sunshine. Christ has authority over the wildfires that still burn in Australia. He has authority over every planet and star and galaxy. Christ’s authority even extends over every unseen molecule and bacteria and virus including the 30,000 people who have contracted the Corunavirus.
He has authority over criminals and terrorists. Christ possesses authority over the violence and casualties in the Middle East.
And Christ has authority every vicious demon and over Satan the God of this world!
Friends, Christ’s sovereign authority is absolutely comprehensive- for He rules over all.
Where did Christ get absolute authority over all? It was given Him by the Father following His resurrection.
In Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers, (Eph. 1:19–22) He describes how God “raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church!”
So the absolute authority of Christ over all was delegated to Him by His Father.
Christ left heaven to earth, lived a sinless, laid down His life on the cross and rose as He said He would.
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:9-11
Why will every tongue one day confess Jesus as Lord?
Because to Christ belongs unrestricted and unstoppable authority over all! Now watch where this drives.
Based on all authority given to Him by the Father Christ now instructs the disciples to do something. The authority points us to the 3. Aim v. 19
Our Lord commands: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”
Beloved, here we gaze at the Mt. Everest in the Alps of the Great Commission.
For Christ calls these as well as all true followers of His to make disciples.
That command would have leaped out to the original hearers that day and as well as to the first century readers of Matthew’s gospel. Here’s why:
There’s only one main active verb in Christ’s commission that day: it’s not the going but the “making disciples.”
We could translate it like this, “In your going or as you go, make disciples.”
No, it doesn’t mean we can take the Go out of the Great Commission and just hunker down and adopt a fortress mentality. You know the holy huddle, “us 4 no more, bar the door?”
Not for a second! Christ’s call here, “Go therefore,” anticipates His followers will be in motion going out to where the lost are.
It shows us our focus as lights for Christ must not only be about coming to be with the church but also going to bring Christ to the world.
Remember, that was the call Christ had made clear to his disciples from the start: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Mat. 4:19
So, the heart and soul of Christ’s commission to His followers then and now can be summarized in 2 words.
It’s not “make money”, it’s not “make memories.” It’s to “make disciples.”
Church, we must be absolutely clear on what Christ meant, since this is our life calling as His followers.
Friends, our Lord is not talking about what only some Christians are to do.
Making disciples is Christ’s command He expects every true believer, every one of us to faithfully fulfill.
Christian, that includes you and me.
For these are the marching orders left by Christ, who possesses all authority, for us to obey.
No, Jesus is not talking about a complicated process or program.
He’s calling for a passionate pursuit of one thing: proclaiming the gospel so that others become learners or followers of Christ.
We see this so wonderfully illustrated by Paul and his co-worker Barnabas when they leave Derbe on their first missionary tour.
Acts 14:21–22 After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
You see Paul and Barnabas fulfilled Christ’s call by going to those cities and proclaiming Christ.
In the power of the gospel, they made converts!
And they circled back again we are told to strengthen the lives of these new disciples in God’s Word.
Mark it well, making disciples is first and foremost about gospel proclamation to those who aren’t yet saved.
And don’t miss the massive scope of making disciples. Jesus says “make disciples of all the nations.”
Wow, that means the Great Commission through us as Christ’s followers is to extend to the entire world of lost people!
In other words, Christ makes it clear He came not only to save the Jews but also Gentiles.
In Mat. 10:5 when Christ first sent out the 12, He told them “Don’t go in the way of the Gentiles.” That’s the same word he used for “nations” (ethne) in verse 19 where he says, “Go and make disciples of all the nations.”
To the unsaved here in your neighborhood, YES, and in turn to the most distant countries in the world.
Some days later when Christ ascended to heaven He detailed how the gospel was to go out.
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
That’s the ripple effect you get from tossing a pebble into the center of a lake. The impact keeps going farther and farther out.
And that’s what Christ the Lord of the harvest has called us to- speaking up as His witnesses beginning here and moving outwards!
That means every nation from Albania to Zimbabwe and people of every false religion (Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics and Atheists) near and far must hear the gospel of message from faithful disciples of Christ.
Beloved, no individual and no nation is without need of hearing of Christ or beyond His saving power.
You see, the Great Commission is Christ’s call to all of the church to passionately pursue taking the gospel to all of the world.
Tragically, many in the evangelical church today have lost sight of the fact of this all-embracing commission left by Christ.
And instead, we have settled into a comfortable and myopic type of Christianity.
The fact of the matter is that most of us, unless there’s a work move, we tend to stay close to the area where we were born. And we become absorbed in so many things that take us from the main thing- making disciples.
We have forgotten the mission Christ has given us in this world- to go and take the light of the gospel to those in darkness.
There’s a modern parable of a lifesaving station that warns of this.
“On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was a once a simple little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost.
Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort to support its work. So new boats were bought, and new crews were trained. And the little lifesaving station grew.
Yet some of the new members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so simple. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided for those saved from the sea.
So, they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in a bigger building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering
place for its members, and they redecorated it and made it a sort of club.
Since fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.
The goal of rescuing others was still given lip-service, but most were too busy to take part in the lifesaving activities.
About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.
They were dirty and sick, and the beautiful new club was considerably messed up.
At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the social life pattern of the club.
But some members insisted that lifesaving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. They were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the life of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast which they did.
As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club, and another lifesaving station had to be founded.
History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that coast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.”
You see, it’s easy for the church to lose sight of what’s most important. It’s easy for us to drop the ball in the rescue operation of making disciples for Christ’s sake.
Well, what does it look like to make disciples practically? Look at how Christ gives specific
4. Application v. 19b-20a
Hand-in-hand with making disciples, our Lord mentions two commitments: baptizing and teaching.
Of the first He says. (v. 19): “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Baptizing symbolizes how a convert has been brought into new union with the triune God.
He or she has been adopted by the Father, redeemed by the Son and indwelt by the H.S.
It’s a visual way of a disciple of Christ saying, “I’m all in. I’ve turned from sin and trusted in Christ alone!”
It’s putting on display the miracle God has performed of Romans 6:4. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death (that’s seen in the disciple being immersed in water) so that as Christ was raised from the dead (the coming out of the water) through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
No, we don’t believe for a second that baptism saves a person. But it’s a beautiful external sign that one has already been saved.
After Philip (Acts 8) explained to the Ethiopian official seated in his chariot the good news of Jesus’ death for lost sinners, that man surrendered his life to Christ.
And not far down that dessert road that Ethiopian blurts out, “Look! Water!”
No, he didn’t want to stop to get a drink of water. And he didn’t want to go for a swim.
And continues, “What prevents me from being baptized?”
Nothing prevented him, for he now belonged to Christ. So Philip takes him out into the water and baptizes him! And that man goes on his way rejoicing. For he had come to Christ in repentant faith. And he obeyed His new Lord and Savior in being baptized!
Just 4 years ago, the church in Syria was virtually nonexistent. Civil war and invasion by ISIS threatened the existence of Christianity.
Yet obedient men and women have gone to bring them the gospel. And in spite of war, many Muslims have come to know Christ.
I read of a retreat for Syrian churches in the Lebanese mountains in which 16 men and women were baptized. Each of them knows their decision to follow Jesus comes with great cost.
If their conversion is discovered, these new disciples could lose their family, friends, their job, even their life. Yet with all 16 baptisms finished, the group sang out with deep joy, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back!”
So Christ says, making disciples calls us to baptizing them as well as v. 20 teaching them.
Notice what Christ’s disciples are called to teach other new disciples whom they have won to Him:
Christ emphasizes, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you!”
This shows us something essential in the Great Commission.
It doesn’t stop with mere professions. These people must be taught so they will know and obey all Christ has commanded. Nothing added, nothing taken out. Nothings watered down and nothing is given a new meaning. So when a new convert comes with a question, our response must never be, isn’t “Well, I think that…, or I’ve heard that, or I’ve seen that…” but “Thus says the Lord!” Next week, by God’s grace, we will see biblically how that process must actually work out- how we are to take the commands of Christ and investing them in the lives of other followers of Christ. But right here in the context of Christ words, here’s the most obvious one: Christ has just commanded His followers to make disciples. And that’s the very command of Christ we must faithfully pass on to those new converts: you too must go and make disciples as well. It’s the divine domino effect. Those who have been made disciples are to do the same and make more disciples. This, friends, is the ministry not of addition but multiplication! That’s the way Christ wants to use us to build His kingdom! The adoration, authority, aim, application culminate in the great 5. Assurance v. 20b Christ declares to those whom He has called to the nations with the gospel the great words of consolation: “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The idea of “Lo” is, “look, note well, don’t miss this. Christ wants those disciples and each of us as His obedient followers to be assured of this soul-
strengthening reality- His personal presence is ALWAYS with us.
It’s this fantastic fact, friends, that fortifies faith in His followers forever.
And Christ’s presence with us in our mission is so personal and practical.
The word “always” literally means “all the days.”
Christian, in your days of joys, Jesus is with you.
In your days of pain, Jesus is with you
In your days of sorrow, He is with you
In your days of fighting fears, failure and sin, count on it, Jesus is with you.
We have the assurance of His constant being there with us and for us “for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.” Heb. 13:5
And Paul, after living a life abandoned to making disciples held to this truth.
In his final farewell of II Timothy 4:16–17 he explains, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished.”
Fellow ambassadors of Christ, never forget as you obey the Lord in making disciples, “You are not alone.” God is with you and strengthens you at every point.
A chief of the noble House of McGregor fell wounded at the battle of Prestonpans.
Seeing their chief go down, his army wavered, which gave the enemy an advantage. The old chief, seeing the effects of being shot down on the battlefield, raised himself up on his elbow, while the blood gushing from his wounds.
He then cried out, “I am not dead, my children; I am looking at you, to see you do your duty.”
Those words revived the sinking courage of his Highlanders. They took courage in the fact that they still fought under the eye of their chief.
It roused them to press on against the enemy which turned the tide of battle and brought victory.
Christian, our leader in chief Jesus Christ lives forever. And He is with us.
And He calls us to go forth confident in His presence and make disciples!
Begetting Disciples of Christ Mat. 28:16-20
1. Adoration 16-17 Mat. 26:32; Mat. 8:26; Rev. 5:8,14
2. Authority 18 Mark 2:10; Luke 4:36; Mat. 7:29; Mk.11:28; John 1:12; Rev. 1:14–17; Daniel 7:14; Eph. 1:19–22; Phil. 2:9-11
3. Aim 19a Mat. 4:19; Acts 14:21–22; Mat. 10:5; Acts 1:8
4. Application 19b-20a Rom. 6:4
5. Assurance 20b Heb. 13:5; II Tim. 4:16–17
Being a doer of the Word: God, in obedience to Christ’s command, how do You want me to make disciples?