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October 28, 2020, 9:00 AM

We're notorious for complicating things. Take Jesus' words from Matthew 28:18-20 for example: "All authority in heavean and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go, disciple all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit - teaching them to obey everything I have commanded. And behold, surely I am with you always to the very end!"

The simplest, most rudimentary, basic, and elemental understanding of Jesus' words are quite simply this: when we love others in and through the Gospel we fulfill King Jesus' commission to "disciple."

DISCIPLE: The resurrected Christ gave the "Disciple!" commission to all His followers, not merely those hearing the words directly from His lips. Many Christians today are convinced Jesus' imperative command to "disciple," was/is only for a select few. King Jesus uttered the command to make crystal clear the life and mission of His followers, those born-again by the Holy Spirit.

King Jesus began with a simple imperative: "Disciple." We've erroneously placed the emphasis on "going," as if missionaries alone are the audience. We've also twisted the single word "disciple" (in the original Greek) into "make disciples," when Jesus said no such thing. Going is the natural expression when we abide in Christ and are led by the Spirit. Additionally, "making" is the byproduct of our industrialized society where we measure productivity and progress by counting widgets produced. In the economy of God, we are wholly incapable of "making" anything other than filthy rags (Isa 64:6), nevermind "disciples." The Holy Spirit is the One who sends, sanctifies, refines, transforms, and "makes" us into vessels usable by the divine Silversmith (Pr 25:4-5) - Christ.

BAPTIZING: Knowing we would botch it, Jesus further simplified the meaning of "disciple" in saying, "...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." So we pervert the simplicity of "baptizing" into mystical and magical water ceremonies with incantations and incense. Then, we argue amongst ourselves to the point of hostility and bitterness regarding the "correct" mode and means - sprinkling, pouring, immersion, etc. - thus creating further division despite our King's prayer and desire for our unity (John 17:20-21).

While Scripture certainly does intend for us to be baptized with water (Rom 6:3) as a public proclamation of our death to self and new exclusive identity in Christ, that's not what Jesus is speaking of here. "Baptizing" in Matthew 28:19 is an infinitive, i.e. and ongoing activity and process of deeper immersion and abandon into the culture, community, image, and likeness of our Creator - the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Spirit (Gen 1:26-27).

TEACHING: To further simplify what it means to "disciple" (since in our flesh we are apt to convolute, contort, twist, and mangle God's design and directive), Jesus clarifies what "baptizing..." means. "Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded." Rule-followers, list-makers, legalists (like the Rich Young Ruler of Matt 19:16-22), and Pharisees then substitute "do's and don'ts" for a legitimate relationship with Christ. They memorize, attend, serve, sing, tithe, smile, wave, abstain, and pray in order to check boxes and complete tasks to obtain a righteousness apart from Christ, i.e. self-righteousness.

Paul, formerly Saul, the chief Pharisee (Phil 3:4-6), obliterated all this nonsense in writing, "For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself" (Gal 5:15). There's no overt/explicit mention of God here! Why? For this simple reason: We cannot truly love people without loving God, and we cannot truly love God without loving people. Therefore, "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded," boils down to actively living out the Gospel to promote and proclaim Christ to the ends of the earth.

Food for the hungry without the Gospel isn't love.

Clothing for the naked without the Gospel isn't love.

Homes for the homeless without the Gospel isn't love.

The Gospel alone has the power to change one's eternal destination - for it alone is the power of God unto salvation for everyone believing (Rom 1:16).

SUMMARY: Only in loving others in and through the Gospel are we truly teaching as Christ taught. Only in loving others in and through the Gospel are we truly baptizing (immersing others and ourselves) in the holy character and nature of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Only in loving others in and through the Gospel do we truly disciple in humble obedience to The Eternal King - to Whom all authority in heaven and on earth belongs.

"Disciple" means baptizing... Baptizing mean teaching... Teaching means loving others in the power of the Gospel: Jesus is King!

In our humble willingness to love as disciples who, by definition, "disciple," Jesus joyfully promises, "And behold! Surely I am with you always to the very end!"

Accepting the gracious love-gift and truth of the Gospel is not only the power of salvation, but the power to actively "disciple!" Christ becomes our identity. The Spirit's power becomes our reality. the Father's glory becomes our legacy. Loving others, especially our enemies (Mt 5:44), in and through the Gospel becomes our exclusive mission.

That is the simplicity of King Jesus' Great Commission to "Disciple!"

-Pastor Kevin