Summary: Discipleship is the mission of the people of God.
Today, we begin a new series on discipleship. Our goal is to gain an better understanding of what discipleship is so that each of us might answer the call to be a disciple who makes disciples for Christ. We know this because of what Jesus commanded His followers in what is commonly referred to as “The Great Commission.” (READ TEXT)
According to our Lord’s command here, discipleship is our mission as the people of God. Let’s dig into the passage a little deeper to see what we can learn about this mission given to us by our Savior.
1. The purpose of our mission – v. 18
The purpose of our mission to go and make disciples has to do with the expansion of the kingdom of God. You see, when God first created His kingdom, He created it in two spheres:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” - Genesis 1:1 (NIV)
God made angels to serve Him in the heavenly sphere of His kingdom and the human race to serve Him in the earthly sphere of His kingdom. But Scripture says a rebellion that had its beginning in heaven led to the usurping of God’s authority on earth.
An archangel named Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15) chose to serve himself rather than God and declared himself worthy of taking God’s place. The Bible indicates one third of the angels joined him in his rebellion (Revelation 12:4), leaving two thirds of the angels loyal to God. Thus, the heavenly sphere of God’s kingdom remained under His authority. But, Lucifer, also called “Satan” which means “adversary” succeeded in persuading 100% of the human race to join his rebellion, leading the earthly sphere of God’s kingdom to rebel against Him. Lucifer usurped God’s authority on earth.
Jesus came to undo the effects of Lucifer’s rebellion by redeeming mankind. He purchased us from enslavement to sin and rebellion that we were trapped in because of our ancestor’s choice to join Lucifer’s rebellion against God’s authority. Through His sacrifice for the sins of the world, Jesus Christ, who was God come in human flesh, provided forgiveness for all mankind through paying the penalty for our sin in our place. And because of this forgiveness that has been provided to all, all can now choose to enter into a relationship with God through faith the One who died for us and was raised from the dead for us.
The nature of our relationship with God is then one of Father and child; but also of Master and servant, as Paul explains:
“You have been purchased at a great price, so use your body to bring glory to God!” - 1 Corinthians 6:20 (The Voice)
“A high price has been paid for your freedom, so don’t devalue God’s investment by becoming a slave to people.” - 1 Corinthians 7:23 (The Voice)
This is what Jesus is talking about in verse 18. Note the emphasis that all authority has been given to Him in heaven AND earth. As people come to Christ, God re-establishes His authority on earth, one person at a time. And as God’s children “do His will on earth, even as it is done in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), God’s kingdom comes to earth. Through the work of making disciples, heaven is invading earth!
There are three things involved in a kingdom.
A. There must be a sovereign. Our king is Jesus!
B. There must be subjects. All who have accepted Christ are subjects in His kingdom.
C. There must be submission. The subjects of the kingdom must willingly submit to the king’s rule over their lives.
The purpose of discipleship is to see the kingdom of God established through-out the earth as people choose to accept Jesus Christ as their sovereign King; are born again into God’s kingdom; and then willingly submit their lives to allowing Him to rule over their lives.
We were not saved to go from earth to heaven one day; but we were saved to bring heaven to the earth today.
2. The practice of our mission – v. 19-20a
Three elements are associated with obeying Christ’s command.
A. Connection – “go”
Many point out that this is more correctly be translated, “as you go.” In other words, we are to seek to make connections with folks who do not yet know Jesus, in the effort to introduce them to Him.
A certain donkey was filled with self-importance. special. He was also prideful that he was called in for difficult assignments. He was strong and could carry a lot. He also knew how to give comfortable rides to passengers. So he wasn’t surprised to be called to give a ride to a person going into the capital city one day. But he was surprised at the greeting he was given by the crowds. People laid down palm branches and coats on the ground before him. “Wow! I really am something,” he thought. “People really appreciate all I am doing, that’s for sure.” But the truth was, the celebration wasn’t for him or about him. It had nothing to do with him. He was carrying Jesus. He was simply carrying the Message.