Matthew 28: 19 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,
Imagine making it onto an elite team. For sake of argument, let’s say you finally made it onto the best baseball team in your state or province. After being chosen onto the team you find out that there has been a change – there is a new coach. At the first practise, the coach gathers the team around him and introduces himself. He let’s you know his name and goes on to say that he has been coaching for 40 years and many of his former athletes have gone on to the pro’s. Your excitement quickly wanes when he tells you that he has been coaching soccer for all those years, and has never actually coached baseball. In fact, other than whacking a ball around with childhood friends 50 years ago, he has never actually played baseball either. But he does reassure everyone that he is a really good coach.
I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that you, and every other player gathered around the new coach would be highly suspect of his abilities, and in fact probably tuned out not long after he said the word soccer. Why is that? He is a coach, and one who has had success. The obvious answer is that he has no business training a team where he himself has not played. He didn’t have to be the greatest player but surely it is important that he played himself, and that he has at least coached baseball, even if at a lower level.
In today’s scripture Jesus gives instructions to his disciples. It is often called the Great Commission. “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). He doesn’t say go and convert people to Christianity. He says we are to “make disciples”. However, if we are going to “make disciples”, it would seem important that we know what a disciple is. In fact, Oswald Chambers in the devotional My Utmost for His Highest says: “you cannot make disciples unless you are a disciple yourself”. (MUFHH October 27).
In my opinion, a disciple is more than just a Christian. A Christian is one who recognizes they are a sinner, recognizes that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and He is the only way to God, and they accept Jesus into their hearts. In doing so, they have eternal salvation as their name is written in the book of life. A disciple, however, is a Christian, but they also choose to follow Christ no matter the personal cost. In Luke 9:59-62 we see Jesus inviting men to follow him and they have very reasonable requests like: “let me first go bury my father”, and “let me first say goodbye to my family”. But, Jesus had no time to be second if they were going to be a disciple of his. If you read John 6:43-66 you will read the story of “many” of Jesus’ disciples leaving Him and following Him no longer. Jesus had given a hard teaching which they could not accept. In Mark 10: 17-27, we read of the Rich Young Ruler who had followed all the commands, and we read that Jesus acknowledged that he had kept the commands and Jesus loved him, but to become a disciple he had to leave behind the one thing that he loved more than God – his wealth and possessions.
How about you? If you truly want to carry out the Great Commission, you must first be a disciple yourself. Ask God what you are holding onto that is hindering you from a being a true disciple of Jesus.