Reverend Patrick Evans, Senior Pastor

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the nature of discipleship changed. From the time Jesus called them until that point discipleship consisted of hanging out with Jesus as his apprentices. The disciples were in training to do what he did, something he called being "Fishers of men." Discipleship was not a matter of getting the scoop on transit to heaven after death or to become moral people. It was taking Jesus' way of life as their own. Rev. Richard After Jesus' death and resurrection, in his last conversation with the group of disciples, he said to them, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, till the very end of the age."

In this English translation we see two active verbs of command: "Go" and "Make." If we read it in the original language we see one verb of command, "make disciples" and three participles that express how this is carried out: "Going," "baptizing," and "teaching." I want to focus on this third term.

It is very easy for us to hear Jesus say, "Teach them everything I have commanded you," as if there is some list of commands we have, some from the Old Testament (10?) and some from the New (2?) and our job is done once our students know what these commands are.

But that's not what Jesus said. Jesus said, "Teach them to OBEY everything I have commanded you." Teaching the content of the commands only requires information transfer from brain to brain. If I set out to obey Jesus' command to "make disciples" (those two are one word in Greek) I imagine my job is done once students know what those commands are. Teaching them to OBEY – to DO – what Jesus said, that's much more difficult. I can be an atheist and a "Jesus mythicist" (someone who believes the Jesus in the Bible is a fictional character) and still teach the commands associated with this person. But if I'm teaching people to DO what he said, that means my life has to exemplify what Jesus taught. Hypocrisy, saying one thing and doing another, is ruled out for me.

The easy way out of this is to say that Jesus' command to make disciples was only for the original Twelve. Once they did the job, it was done. Or we may expand that a bit to include people like Paul the Apostle and his generation. They got the ball rolling, so now that command has been completed. When we think that way we miss the point that one of the commands Jesus gave us to teach people to obey is this very command to make disciples.

If this whole thing sounds difficult – and it should – it will help us to remember the last line. Jesus promised to be "with us." We experience this presence through the Holy Spirit in our lives. We get a glimpse of what that looks like when we read what happened in the next chapter of the church – Pentecost. We're not alone! We can do what Jesus said and experience great joy in the process.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Rev. Richard Heyduck