Summary: This third sermon in the Make Disciples series focuses on what they did in scripture to make disciples compared with how we try to do it now.
Let’s get to our passage. Turn over to Matthew 28. This passage might be pretty familiar to you, but that’s ok. When you get to Matthew 28, we’ll read verses 19-20. Pay attention to this passage…as it lays the foundation for what we’re studying today. Let’s read our passage for today…again, it’s Matthew 28:19-20.
It says: 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I know that we started with this same passage a couple of weeks ago…but as we go through this series on making disciples, we’re going to be constantly referencing Jesus’ words here…his Great Commission. The reason why we’ve started with Jesus’ instructions to his disciples this morning…is because we’re going to look at what disciple-making was like then…and what it tends to look like now.
Because…the reality is…we’ve come a long way from what disciple-making was back for Jesus and his disciples as they started the early church. And not necessarily in a good way. Why do we think that is? Well…maybe it’s because…for the disciples…they saw their master… the one who they’d followed die on a cross…then three days later saw him with their very eyes alive and well. So they were pretty motivated to do whatever he instructed them to do…including his last command before he was taken up into heaven.
So again…why the difference? Well…as we said…that was 2000 years ago. And we haven’t seen Jesus the way they did. We believe in him. We have faith. But…well…maybe we think there’s not as much at risk or that our disciple-making time has come and gone or we already think we’re doing plenty as a “Christian” and that’s good enough for us.
*But as we’ve said the last two weeks…and I’m saying again…you cannot…you absolutely cannot separate being a Christian and being a disciple. The two are one in the same. So if you’re one then you’re going to be the other…but if you’re not one…then you’re not the other.
**That’s why this morning we’re going to look at some of the “then and now” scenarios as they relate to making disciples. In all honesty…there shouldn’t be any difference. How we make disciples and following Jesus in that way should…at its core…be gone about the same way.
Some of the methods might be different because we live in a very different world. But the foundations of disciple-making transcend time. They apply from generation to generation. Or…they should. So what is our first “Then and now”? Then: Go; Now; Excuses.
Then, when Jesus said “Go”, that’s what they did. Now, when we read or are reminded of how Jesus said to “Go”? We come up with all sorts of excuses.
Consider the disciples…who in the book of Acts started being referred to as “apostles.” After Jesus went to Heaven, did what he said. They went. They went to Jerusalem and waited for the one who had been promised to them…the Holy Spirit. Then, when they received it in an upper room on the day of Pentecost and spoke all kinds of different languages…they didn’t invite the crowds in Jerusalem into their little upper room. They went again! Even when persecution of the early church ramped up…they used that as an opportunity to “Go” again!
One example is a man named Philip, who we read about in Acts 8, so let’s turn that way. What did he do then? Let’s start reading in verse 26. It says: “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ Then Philip… ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet.”
Twice when commanded to “Go”…Philip did just that. He went. He even ran. He didn’t want to waste any time. And what happened? He was able to teach the Ethiopian about Jesus…and he baptized him. He made a disciple. …
*Today? We sound a whole lot like the folks from Luke 9:57-62. Turn over there. There, it says: “As they were talking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’”