“Go therefore and teach (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.” (Matt. 28:18-20).
Jesus made the above statement to His apostles shortly before He ascended to heaven. It is commonly called “The Great Commission.”
Notice the main thought of Jesus’ command, “Go therefore and teach all the nations…” The word ‘teach’ in the Greek is literally “make disciples.” Almost every Bible version except KJV translates the phrase as “go and make disciples.” In order to follow that command, our first GOAL must be that of evangelizing the world for Christ.
Are you a disciple of Jesus? More than likely you believe in Jesus. No doubt you believe that one should attend church services regularly. But is that what Jesus means when he commands us to be His disciple? It is vital that we understand what is involved in obeying the great commission and thus becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ ourselves.
What is the definition of a disciple? The word “disciple” literally means a learner. We also see that the goal of being a disciple is stated by Jesus Himself: to be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). In order to be Christ’s disciple, we must strive to be like Him (Matt. 10:24-25). According to the apostle Paul in Rom. 8:28-29, being like Christ coincides with God’s goal in the redemption of mankind. He wants us all to be conformed to the image of His Son.
What are other marks of a disciple? A disciple is “one who abides in Jesus’ words” (John 8:31). This would imply being a diligent student of the teachings of Christ as well as being a ‘doer’ of the Word (Luke 6:40; Jas 1:23-25). In view of this, a true disciple would not fail to study the Bible diligently. He will willingly seek opportunities to study with others in Bible classes, and privately.
A disciple is also one who seeks to love the brethren (John 13:34-35). A disciple is one who bears much fruit (John 15:5-8). Notice the word “much” in verses 8 and 5. Jesus is not talking about an occasional good deed. He is speaking of a life, which prompts people to glorify God (Matt. 5:16)!
The point should be clear: to be a disciple of Jesus Christ means more than just being a casual church member. It requires fruit, especially with regard to: the teachings of Christ, the love of brethren and bearing fruit to the glory of God.
We are to be taught (that is, to be learners). We are to observe whatever Christ has commanded us (that is, to be adherents or doers). In this way we embark on a life devoted to learning and doing all that Jesus has commanded us to do. Only those baptized scripturally, who demonstrate the marks of discipleship, despite the costs, can truly be called disciples of Jesus! Only they can realistically look forward to the rewards of discipleship, and take consolation in the promise of Jesus.
“…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).