19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
In yesterday’s devotional, Pastor Luke aptly pointed out that in this breathtaking command of Jesus, the central command is “make disciples.” To be clear, this means that, even though the English translation makes it sound like “go” is a command, it isn’t. In fact, in the original Greek language, “go” isn’t a command at all. Wait, hold on for a minute. Did you catch that? In this iconic passage, I am suggesting that Jesus did not command his disciples to go!
However, I don’t want you to walk away from this thinking that Jesus doesn’t want his disciples to “go.” In fact, I want to suggest that the way Jesus says this has an even stronger force than a command. Clearly, Jesus could have structured his sentence with two imperatives. He could have commanded them to go and to make disciples. Grammatically, that would not have been difficult. Instead, Jesus does something more powerful. He assumes that any disciple of his would become a person who goes.
It would be pointless to command a human to breathe and it would be a waste of that breath to command a fish to swim. You don’t command birds to fly or dogs to bark. You don’t command these things, specifically, because you assume that they will. You know that it is in their nature to do these things, without having been told to do so. This is what Jesus is suggesting about disciples. He is saying that it is in the nature of a disciple to become a person who goes. Literally, his words could be translated, “While you are going…” Jesus assumed that any disciple of his would want to go out and tell as many people as they could about the good news. Why? Because that is what disciples do. Going should be as natural to a disciple as breathing.
However, what we do when we go (wherever we go) is key! Jesus wants us to do more than just share the good news, he wants us to help people become disciples who share the good news and make more disciples. We do that through teaching people the way of life that Jesus taught us to live and by baptizing them into a new identity. Therefore, if you are a disciple, you have been given a new way to live, you were crucified with Christ, buried with him, you are going to rise with him, and because of all that, while you go, wherever you go, be a disciple who makes disciples.