The second command of The Great Commission is to “Make Disciples.” It should probably go without saying that this seemingly small command is absolutely loaded with potential! Let’s get started.
Here is the complete command in context.
“Make disciples of all nations.” Short sentence, right?
The verb is “make.” The direct object… or what to make… is “disciples.” Make disciples. But we’re missing a subject. A complete sentence must have a noun which makes up the subject of the sentence. And believe it or not, “Make disciples,” is technically a complete sentence. So, where’s the noun? What is the subject of the sentence? Think back to 7th grade English. Remember, this was a fun one. The subject is the implied, “You.” If we were going to say the complete and full sentence it would be, “You make disciples.” The purpose of the sentence is an imperative. It is a command.
The plural “you,” Jesus is referring to, are the remaining eleven disciples… the apostles. It is to them exclusively he is saying, “You make.” We have no indication there is anyone else present. The commands are given to a very select group of men; the men he has been training for the last three years. The men who have walked closely with him daily. So, “You make,” would be the command in its simplest form. Let’s talk about this part of the full sentence before we get to the “what…” of the sentence.
The definition of “make”
Jesus command is directed to the apostles and he tells them to “make” something. Making something implies effort, it requires an activity. Noah Webster, in his 1828 dictionary, offers over 60 definitions for the word, “make.” Here are just a few.
To compel; to constrain. To create; to cause to exist; to form from nothing. To bring into any state or condition; to constitute.
The word “make” means the act of creating something new which did not previously exist. It also implies a deliberate effort is activated toward that goal. In order for this to happen, the person performing the effort must have a goal in mind and we should understand they have some sort of motivation to achieve the goal for which they are producing the effort. There is some driving force behind their desire to be productive.
This little word, “make.” It is packed full of activity. When we couple it with the first command, from our last podcast, to “go,” it becomes even more active. Remember, we are still talking about evangelism. A disciple is a “maker,” just as God is a maker. A disciple of Jesus does not sit in a lofty cathedral or busy themselves with mundane activities of the church. A disciple of Jesus is laser focused on a process of production. It’s the number one priority of their day. And exactly what does the disciple of Jesus produce?
A Disciple Makes Disciples
A disciple of Jesus produces other disciples of Jesus. Our sentence is, “You, make disciples.” “Disciples,” is the direct object… the “what” of the making. This speaks to the end result of the process, right? It clarifies and gives purpose to the rest of the things we already know. The Apostles were told to, “Go.” They were told to “make.” And the things they are told to make are, other disciples. There is nothing confusing here. The is nothing ambiguous. Jesus commands are clear and straight forward. The final part of the “make” command comes in the form of a little prepositional phrase which tells us where to go and make. We go to “all nations.”
This defines the target audience of our efforts. We are to make disciples of all nations! In essence, there is no limit to the process. Even as new nations are formed, those need to hear the Gospel message as well. And by the way, if we are to go to all nations, that kind of destroys the idea of racism and prejudice in the church, doesn’t it ?
The point of this lesson is to tightly focus on this word “make,” the second command of The Great Commission. It is a process very few people are involved with today. For the average person who calls themselves a Christian, they are content to go to church on Sunday, pay their respects to God for about an hour and then live any way they want for the rest of the week. They relegate the task of “making,” to a pastor, evangelist, a marketing department or anybody else. The deliberate activity of evangelizing the world is not something they really want to be involved in, and even if they do bring a friend to church, they would still hand off the conversion process to a worship team or some other church leader. This is not how a true disciple of Christ operates.
Your mission… reach and teach.
A disciple of Christ is deeply devoted to the activity for which the Master has redeemed him. He is about the Master’s business of making disciples. A disciple of Jesus has the ability to reach and teach… at least on some basic level. Think about it. If God did not intend for you to further His kingdom here on earth, why would he leave you here after you became a Christian?
Because Jesus told us (by extension) to “make disciples” in the proclamation of The Great Commission, we understand without confusion, the purpose of a disciple is to make other disciples . This is why we say, “There is no other kind of disciple than one who makes disciples.” If a person is not about the business of making other disciples, then they can not call them-self a disciple. But, what is a disciple?
What is a disciple?
In our next series, we will dive deeply into this subject in a lesson about “Discipleship.” For now, let’s just define the basic term. Once again, here’s what Webster says.
DISCIPLE, noun [Latin , to learn.]
- A learner; a scholar; one who receives or professes to receive instruction from another; as the disciples of Plato.
- A follower; an adherent to the doctrines of another. Hence the constant attendants of Christ were called his disciples; and hence all Christians are called his disciples, as they profess to learn and receive his doctrines and precepts.
So, a disciple is a student or a learner… but this word carries a much deeper meaning than a person simply sits in a classroom, doe isn’t it? A disciple is a close associate of the teacher. We might say, “They ‘walk’ with the teacher.” They spend time with the teacher and become very familiar with the teacher’s ways. When someone is that connected to a mentor, they tend to become “like” the teacher. They don’t just learn bits of information or clever ideas. They begin to “imitate” the teacher. In our modern world, I think the word “apprentice” comes close to how we might understand the word “disciple,” but it still lacks a certain depth and closeness in the relationship.
In college, I had many professors and sat in many classes but, I was a disciple of my photography teacher. He took the class out of the class room and into nature. He spent time hanging out with us. He had us over for cookouts and dinners. He introduced us to the beautiful works of art, he and others produced. In many ways, we were profoundly changed by his keen efforts to immerse us in the art of photography. We didn’t just learn the mechanics of photography. We learned the heart of the art. Still today, I find myself thinking about things the way I learned to think back then. I find myself using phrases we used in our common group speak. I even find myself using mannerisms my teacher possessed.
You know, we all think we are such independent individuals. We all think we arrived at the spot we are in by our clever abilities and astute thinking. But the truth is, we are all just composites of the people we have met and have allowed to influence our lives. Our parents, our grand parents, our brothers and sisters, close friends and teachers have all contributed to who we are. That laugh you laugh…. who do you know that laughs like that? Where did you pick up that “thing you do” when you’re washing the dishes? Who showed you how to tie your shoe? Why are you not patient with your kids? Where did you learn that?
You see, you are not the rugged, independent individual you think you are. You are a mixture of influences.
When you meet a disciple of Jesus and they ask you to meet the Master, understand this. They are under the influence of that master. They have been taught to act like the Master. They have the same heart, mind and Spirit of the Master. They are calling you to become like them, to potentially change anything in your character which your former masters have left behind which is not like Christ. This can be a painful experience.
Making disciples is not easy.
That’s right. The process of making disciples almost always produces conflict. Man’s tendency is to crave the things of this world. A disciple’s tendency is to shun the things of this world. The two are always in conflict.
It is not an easy task to make a disciple and it is not an easy task to be made a disciple. It takes effort from the teacher and great humility from the student. This stands in stark contrast to the easy methods of conversion offered in modern Christianity. Today, all you need to do is raise your hand in a church service and you’re good to go.
The work of making disciples requires that people are introduced to Jesus, understand who he is and what he has done for us. It requires that we allow the Bible to be the prime source of our knowledge and training, not a man made book of membership rules. In making a disciple, we help a person understand what life was like for the first century disciples and explain how they should be our role models.
The standard is the Bible, not traditions.
We often spend a good bit of time cleaning up old traditional views about religion by pointing people to the Biblical patterns. Sometimes there is conflict! But, when a person is committed to studying the scriptures, for themselves and allowing them to be the final authority, errors and traditions fall away and the truth can be seen fully. This all takes great patience and careful instruction. It takes time together and communication. It takes walking together, talking together, eating together and always opening the Bible together.
Let’s face it, anyone can claim anything about the Bible as long as we are unwilling to check it our for ourselves. This is another mark of a disciple. They open their Bible every day. They are constantly on the lookout for deeper understandings regarding their relationship with Christ. In the churches I know which practice discipleship, even outsiders make the claim, “Wow, those guys really know their Bibles!”
So, the second command of The Great Commission, “Make disciples,” carries quite a punch. Just like every other command in The Great Commission, it is an action. Every disciple of Jesus is involved in making disciples. It is your faith acting! It is not a human work. It is the glorious and exciting result of A Faith that Obeys!Enjoy!