While many come to the Great Commission with a focus on “Go,” the load-bearing concept in the passage is “make disciples.” Jesus was not creating a 1st century guide for international tourism, like a scroll-bound Fodor’s. He was preparing His disciples for a mission that would impact the people of the world for centuries.
The crux of this mission is to make people into learners of Christ (disciple = learner). Everywhere His followers go there already exists the charge to make disciples, mark disciples (baptism), and mature disciples (teach them all that He taught).
Below are three good quotes on disciple making I’ve recently read. They are followed by links to the quoted books and several others on the subject.
From 4 Chair Discipling: Growing a Movement of Disciple-Makers, by Dann Spader:
[A] wrong view of Jesus will lead to a misunderstanding of disciple-making. I’m convinced that you can’t get to know that real Jesus until you understand both His deity and His humanity. His deity is profound. Jesus is God Himself. But the reality that Jesus “became flesh and made his dwelling with us,” adding humanity to His deity, adds a whole new dimension to the real Jesus (John 1:14)…In order to “walk as He walked” (1 John 2:6) and “do what Jesus did” (John 14:12) we must understand the real Jesus who walked on this planet over 2,000 years ago. (p 17)
Also from 4 Chair Discipling:
Jesus poured His life into a few disciples and taught them to make other disciples. Seventeen times we find Jesus with the masses, but forty-six times we see Him with Him disciples. These few disciples, within two years after the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, went out and “filled Jerusalem” with Jesus’s teaching (Acts 5:28). Within four and a half years they had planted multiplying churches and equiped multiplying disciples (Acts 9:31). Within eighteen years it was said of them that “they turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6 ESV). And in twenty-eight years it was said that “the gospel is bearing fruit and growing through the whole world” (Colossians 1:6). (p 36)
From Contagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Journey of Discovery, by David L. Watson and Paul D. Watson:
The church belongs to Christ, and He determines how the church grows and what it looks like. The body of believers certainly does its part, but Christ is the Head of the church. Different segments of society and different cultures put church together differently as they obey the Word and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their own context….Identifying our own personal cultures–including our religious and nationalistic traditions–and keeping them from permeating [a] new work is the single biggest hurdle we face. (p 19, 20)
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