Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:19

Written by Jim Cumbee from the Brentwood Campus

I loved my English classes in high school. Learning how to diagram sentences and construct words into compelling thoughts has always fascinated me. As my education advanced into college and graduate school, my love for words and writing continued. I have always enjoyed learning new words, even if I never use them in conversation or the many documents I write for work.

But with all that background and fascination with words, I have found that simple words seem to carry the most powerful meaning and impact. Matthew 28:19 is one of the most remembered and quoted words of Jesus, perhaps because of its simplicity. His final words to mankind come down to “go” and “make.”  Nothing fancy or complicated. Just go and make.

Let’s break it down a bit. The “go” has no limits, parameters, or direction. It can mean 12 feet or 1,200 miles. It can mean go here or go there. It can mean go home or go to work. It can mean to this community or that continent. Jesus’ command to “go” is omni-meaning and omni-directional.

The “make” begins to give us context for the “go.” It tells us what to do once we get to wherever we are going. We are to make disciples. Again, no limits, parameters or direction.

Theologians continue their millennium-old argument as to what it means to “make disciples,” but in my simple mind, it is defined by the rest of today’s verse ….”baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” I’m obviously no theologian, but it seems to me what the verse tells us is what happens next is up to the Holy Spirit.  Our job is to go, make disciples, and see them baptized.

There are many places where Scripture is hard to understand or even reconcile, and I’ll leave those fascinating discussions to others. But Matthew 28:19 is not in that category. Go and make, two words that are as simple as they come.

As we wrap up, let’s look at one other simple word in this verse, therefore. You’ve likely heard the old saying, “when you see a ‘therefore’ asks yourself what is it there for?” The power of Jesus’ command to go and make comes from the sentence just before it that is linked by the “therefore.” In verse 18, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” So the simple message to go and make is coming from The Authority over heaven and on earth. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough authority for me to take those simple words to heart.

Questions:

  1. Jesus tells you to “go.” As you read this right now, where do you think that means for you?
  2. When Jesus says “make disciples,” do you have individuals that immediately come to mind that you’d like to see become a disciple of Christ?
  3. Do you see that baptism is not a function left to professional clergy, but a simple, yet direct command from Jesus to all of us?

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