Summary: The command of discipleship is found in what we call the great commission. It is the command for all disciples of Jesus to make disciples who will make disciples.
A. I like the story told about a truck driver who was hauling a load of 500 penguins to the zoo.
1. Unfortunately, his truck broke down.
2. He eventually waved down another truck and offered the driver $500 to take the penguins to the zoo.
3. Later that day the first truck driver got his truck fixed and drove into town and couldn’t believe his eyes!
4. Just ahead of him he saw the second truck driver crossing the street with the 500 penguins waddling single file behind him.
5. He jumped out of his truck, ran up to the guy and said, “What’s going on? I gave you $500 to take these penguins to the zoo!”
6. The man responded, “I did take them to the zoo, but I had enough money left over so now we’re going to the movies.”
7. See, that guy didn’t fully understand his assignment - he didn’t understand the command he had received.
8. Likewise, many of us who are disciples of Jesus are fuzzy about the command Jesus gave to His disciples.
B. Today, as we continue our series on discipleship, we are going to explore the command of discipleship – in other words, what is the mission and commission for disciples of Jesus?
1. Before we get into this important subject, let’s review what we have learned so far in our series on discipleship.
2. We have learned that being a disciple of Jesus involves a lot more than church membership and church attendance.
3. We have learned that a disciple is someone who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and is committed to the mission of Jesus.
4. And we have learned that although the call of discipleship is open to everyone, not everyone answers that call because the cost of discipleship is everything we are and have.
C. So, what is the mission and commission for disciples of Jesus?
1. As we begin to answer that question, consider this illustration (borrowed from Tommy South).
a. Many of you know how much I enjoyed playing basketball over the years, and I still enjoy watching the SU basketball team.
b. But can you imagine how dull basketball would be if there wasn’t a goal at each end of the court?
c. Imagine 10 guys just running around the court playing keep away, but with no way to score a goal.
d. What makes basketball interesting and exciting is scoring more points than your opponent.
e. Without the goal of scoring, the game would not be nearly as interesting, and has no way to measure who wins.
2. I wonder if basketball without a goal isn’t something like what God sees when disciples of Jesus don’t know and obey the command of discipleship.
a. Do we as a church know what our goal and mission is?
b. Do we know what we are supposed to be accomplishing for Christ?
c. If we don’t know what the command and mission is, then we just end up with a lot of spiritual activity that may be good, but doesn’t necessarily move us toward fulfilling the real mission of Jesus.
D. When we study our Bibles, it isn’t hard to discover what the real command of discipleship is.
1. Jesus declared that the reason He came was “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
2. Jesus hinted at the mission for disciples of Jesus when He first called those fisherman, Peter, Andrew, James and John, and told them He was going to make them fishers of people.
3. But it is in Jesus’ final words in Matthew 28 that He clearly states the command of discipleship: 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Mt. 28:19-20).
4. It is interesting to note that the imperative is the verb “make disciples,” not the verb “go.”
a. A better translation might be “as you are going, make disciples” or “wherever you go, make disciples.”
b. So what is the command for disciples of Jesus? It is to make other disciples of Jesus from people of all nations.
c. That is what we are commanded to do – that is our mission.
5. Notice that the command to make disciples in this verse involves two things: baptizing them and teaching them to obey all things.
a. “Baptizing them” represents the work involved in bringing them into a relationship with Jesus, and “teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” represents the work involved in helping disciples grow and live faithful lives in Jesus.