Today’s Bible reading includes Jesus’ “Great Commission”. Jesus has spent about three years with his disciples and is commissioning them for their ministry. Grammatically speaking, there is one command with several participles that describe how the command is to play out.
He begins with “As you go”. He assumes that His disciples will go. Because He has all of the authority, He gives them this great commission.
Next is the command to make disciples.
The next set of participles describe how to make disciples:
- by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son,
andthe Holy Spirit, fully identifying them with the Trinity.
- by teaching them to obey Jesus’ teachings. Jesus gave a lot of commands. But in John 13:34–35, He gives them a new command: Love each other. Jesus’ new command wasn’t really new, he was just giving the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36–40) a new emphasis. In John 13:35, He says that people will recognize His disciples by their love for each other. This isn’t to discount so many other things about them, but their distinctive was to be love. Not an ooey-gooey squishy love, but a real — almost tangible love that Paul describes in 1Corinthians 13:1–13.
That’s it! That’s all it means to make disciples. The Great Commission is simple. But it isn’t easy. Teaching people to obey Jesus’ teachings is a life-long journey.
When Jesus linked teaching with how the command is to be applied, He isn’t talking about taking something from one person’s brain and transferring that to someone else’s brain. In the New Testament times, a disciple wasn’t just a student of a teacher. A disciple was a learner, much like an apprentice under a mentor who poured his life into the apprentice’s life.
Jesus’ commission isn’t to get people to make decisions. The commission is to make disciples. There is a world of difference between these two!
Unfortunately, a lot of leaders in the church at large don’t get this. It’s much easier to get someone to “bow your head and repeat after me” than it is to make a disciple. Decision-making is very quick. Disciplemaking takes time. Unfortunately, churches are full of decision-makers, and lacking on disciples.
In 2Timothy 2:2 Paul adds another dimension to
Have you ever been discipled? Maybe you need to talk with your pastor about growing deeper in your faith by meeting regularly with a more mature believer who can pour his/her spiritual life into yours.
Have you made a disciple? The commission wasn’t just for Jesus’ immediate disciples. The commission is for us, too!
I once heard someone wisely say that every Christian needs a Paul (a more mature believer who is
In today’s Bible reading from Matthew 27, we see Jesus’ last moments as He dies on a cross just outside Jerusalem. He cries out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Billy Foote’s song You are My King (Amazing Love) begins, “I’m forgiven because You were forsaken. I’m accepted. You were condemned.”
As I am typing this and considering the verse, Billy’s description, and the picture, tears are welling up in my eyes. Jesus voluntarily became God’s sacrificial lamb, dying on the cross and taking the wrath of God head-on, becoming the atoning sacrifice for sin that wasn’t His — it was mine and it was yours — all to bridge the chasm between our Holy Creator and us, the fallen creation.
His death accomplished what our feeble attempt at obedience to the Law wasn’t able to — and wasn’t designed to do: give God’s people eternal forgiveness and eternal life. His death reestablished a relationship between God and His people, a relationship that had been severed a long time ago in a garden (Eden). And Jesus’ battle in another garden (Gethsemane) secured the victory over sin, a victory that God’s people experience vicariously.
Jesus was abandoned. Jesus was condemned. Jesus died. He endured all of these things so that you wouldn’t have to. Believer, your sin-debt has been paid. You have been adopted and you will never be abandoned by your Father. Because Jesus died and rose from the dead, power and desire to walk a life that pleases God is available to you.
Spend a few minutes worshiping God. Spend a few minutes expressing your gratitude for the incredibl
Once again, Jesus highlights the importance of relationship over religion. In today’s Bible reading, He drives home His point as He quotes Isaiah.
The Lord said: These people approach me with their speeches to honor me with lip-service— yet their hearts are far from me, and human rules direct their worship of me. Isaiah 29:13 (CSB)
Over and over again throughout His ministry, Jesus highlights passages from the Old Testament (His Bible) that emphasize that He is all about relationship, not religion. In our passage today from Matthew 15, the Pharisees and Scribes ask Jesus, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?” (Matthew 15:2 CSB) These religious leaders were all about religion. They were all about rules. They were all about doing
Religion looks good. Moralism looks good. Good behavior looks good. But beneath the good-looking veneer of religion, moralism, and good behavior lies the ugly truth that without a relationship with Jesus Christ, you cannot have a right standing before God. (John 17:3, Matthew 7:21-23)
Five hundred years ago, the Reformers definitively answered the question, “How can a person be justified before God?” or “How can people have a right standing before God?” They said that according to God’s Word, people can only be justified by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. And they said that God alone is glorified in justification.
Notice in that statement, there is no mention of religious rituals. There is no mention of baptism. There is no mention of religious behavior. There is no mention of cleaning up your life first. There is no mention of praying a prayer. There is no mention of anything like that. It is only by being in a relationship with Jesus Christ that anyone has any hope of being right with God. Period.
And that’s why religious people in Jesus’ day — and ours too! — don’t get it. They think it’s up to them to make themselves good enough to be accepted by God. The only problem with that is that no one has ever been good enough to be accepted by God.
as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one. Romans 3:10–12 (CSB)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 (CSB)
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. Galatians 2:21 (CSB)
So what about you? You probably call yourself a Christian, a Believer, a Christ-follower. So? You can call yourself anything you want. You can “self-identify” however you want. But the condition of your heart is what matters.
On what basis do you make a claim to be right with God? If your claim has anything to do with you or your behavior, you probably need to go back to the previous paragraphs and rethink your claim.
Sure, good behavior is important. But if you have a right standing before a Holy, Sovereign God, it is only because of what has been done for you, not by you.
That’s good news! That’s the gospel!
Today’s Bible reading includes the story of Jesus’ feeding over five thousand people with only two fish and five loaves of bread. Matthew 14:13-21) Mark and Luke also include the story in
It’s sad that people can read this story and dismiss it as a fairytale, something that never happened, something that could never have happened. They dismiss the story because it includes a miracle, and their theology doesn’t have room for a supernatural element. All of us are theologians. All of us. The question is how good and faithful to the Text are we going to be? I honestly think that to dismiss miraculous stories takes more “faith” than believing the story as presented.
So, I just take the story as it’s given: Jesus takes a couple of fish and some bread and feeds five thousand men, their wives, and children. And the disciples collect twelve baskets full of leftovers.
It’s been a long day. The disciples are tired and hungry. They probably just want a little peace and quiet. So they ask Jesus to send the crowds away so they can have some “down-time” together — and perhaps silently gloat that they’re special because they don’t have to leave and go home.
Jesus tells them to have the crowds sit down. He takes a small contribution, blesses it and feeds a multitude. But I find it interesting that Jesus doesn’t just feed the people a little bit. He doesn’t add to their own sack lunches. He feeds them and they collect twelve baskets of leftovers. Note that the leftovers are from the original contribution. There is nothing in the story that indicates that anyone adds to the two fish and five loaves of bread. None of the Gospel writers tells us how big the baskets were. But it’s clear that they had more left over than what they started with!
Yes, over five thousand men (plus women and kids) ate. They even had leftovers. But note that they were satisfied. (Matthew 14:20)
Each of us comes to Jesus with a hunger that only He can satisfy. Let me restate that.
Each of us comes to Jesus with a need. We may think we need any number of things from him. But our biggest need is a hunger for Him. And only He can satisfy that hunger. And He does it so well, if we will only ask.
CS Lewis said that our problem isn’t that we seek to fulfill our desires; our problem is that we are far too easily satisfied!
Are you satisfied with Jesus?
Again, I’d like to challenge you to embrace Christian Hedonism!