Summary: Do you know the very first command God gave mankind right after He created them in His image? Be fruitful and multiply. The ultimate goal of Jesus when he came to the earth in the flesh was to save mankind who in a sense fell out of His image through sin.
Do you know the very first command God gave mankind right after He created them in His image? Be fruitful and multiply. The ultimate goal of Jesus when he came to the earth in the flesh was to save mankind who in a sense fell out of His image through sin. He had to be the perfect sacrifice. But what was his goal while he ministered on the earth? Did you ever think about that? Yeah he’s the saviour and his death and resurrection confirm that, but what about the three years between his baptism and his death. He was all about making disciples and in essence reproducing himself. He was very fruitful and He multiplied.
Last week we talked about making disciples in the Great Commission, but what does disciple-making really mean. Yes we are to baptise them and teach them to obey God, but if you really think about it, disciple-making is reproduction. Jesus spent three years reproducing himself in 12 men and (many women by the way), and the 12 then set out to reproduce themselves as Disciples of Christ in the world. So it seems to me that making disciples is essentially reproducing Christ or God’s image in the world.
Let me put it to you this way. How many of you saw the truth project a couple years ago. He spoke about this, let me show you Matthew 10:40, “Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me.”
Did you see that? Jesus is equating the Father, Himself and us. He has also made it very clear that he lives in us through the Holy Spirit, so I am going to be very blunt here. When Jesus ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to believers, in a very real sense he made believers participants in the Trinity. Now obviously we are imperfect members, but as adopted children we are fully empowered by the Holy Spirit.
But look at the verses before this in the NLT, “If you love your mother or father more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
What is he saying in all this? Well, first let me explain what I. taking up your cross means. In the most simplistic way, it means to publicly identify with Jesus, willing to experience what he experienced. This is also why baptism is so important in the Bible, often even being equated with salvation. Back a few verses Jesus says, “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven”.
Are you getting this? Very rarely does Jesus talk about accepting his salvation. He always talks about believing me, obeying me, and witnessing about me, or representing me. You see, his goal was to bring salvation to all people, to seek and save the lost.
Could he have done this by himself? Probably. But instead he did the work he had to do to offer the acceptable sacrifice, and then he left, only to send the Holy Spirit later.
He started the church empowered by the Holy Spirit to finish the work he began. Paul talks a lot about this. By doing this he reproduces himself in human beings with the Holy Spirit in them, just like Him in the flesh, in his image.
And though we plainly hear in Paul’s letters that we should strive for unity in the church, Jesus says straight up, I did not come to bring peace between people close to each other, even families, but a sword. What does the sword represent? Division, the sword according to Hebrews 4:12 divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow.
Jesus came to bring division even in families, because when someone in the family really becomes a believer and takes up their cross, and obeys all His commandments, they are now separated from those who do not, and are made one with Christ. You are either Christ’s or the world’s, you can’t be both. One or the other has ownership over you. Jesus brings division so that at the end, the wheat and the weeds are separated for their eternal destinies.
Let’s go back now a little further in Matthew 10 to verse 24, “Students (or disciples) are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called even worse names.” Again he equates himself with his believers.