The primary idea you need to keep revisiting during this Following Jesus Pathway is that we are following and being formed by Jesus. This pathway can be learned simply or in great depth. We trust that you as a leader know your people and the dynamics of your group well enough to adapt and impart this topic with grace and wisdom.
This guide is designed to help you and others follow and be formed by Jesus. Remember to keep it Jesus-Centered.
We pray that you will be Spirit-Led and Spirit- Empowered as you lead and learn together.
Go Make Disciples Hand Motion
Researchers have found that moving our bodies and adding actions to our learning significantly increases our ability to remember. Here is a hand action you can add to the command to remember it:
Step 1: (go) Take your right hand and walk your pointer and middle finger away from you
Step 2: (it takes time) now tap those two fingers on your left wrist (like tapping a watch)
Brief Commentary and Context
Answer this question here: What did this mean in the original context and how is it set in the larger story of the Bible?
Matthew 28:16-20 (The Great Commission)
The disciples were still reeling from watching their dearest friend and most revered rabbi crucified on a Roman cross. It had been almost a month since that day when their world came crashing down. We are left to imagine their disappointment, confusion and pain. Over a period of 40 days Jesus began appearing in a resurrected body to them bringing comfort, peace and hope. Each time Jesus visits them something deep within is being healed and restored. In Matthew’s gospel in chapter 28 verses 16-20 we are given a unique window into an encounter between Jesus and his disciples that would change the course of human history known as the “Great Commission.” We are told that the eleven disciples were instructed by Jesus to head north, back to Galilee, to meet to wait at the mountain. Their simple obedience positioned them for a life altering encounter. When Jesus appeared the passage says they worshiped him, but some doubted. It is a comforting thought that the disciples are not dissimilar to all of us. We all have our doubts even when we have seen God’s power and reality right before our eyes. What was it like to see the man you had watched beaten beyond recognition, nailed to a roman cross until all his breath left him, now alive, transformed, talking to you?
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” What does this mean? Most basically it means, Jesus is Lord: universal, unlimited authority. The Father gives over “all authority” in heaven and earth to the Son Jesus. Authority is the right to rule, to command, to govern. The Greek word exousia, which is translated as the English word authority in Matthew 28:18, literally means "that which arises out of being." Jesus has the right to rule by virtue of His present state of being, or condition, as the victor over sin, death, and hell. Honestly, what a marvel! Who can understand? We saw in his earthly life amazing authority over sickness, demons, weather, laws of physics and creation, all of which amazes us. But now “all authority”! We may not fully comprehend what all authority in heaven and on earth means! But at very least we should listen to what this resurrected man says about what’s best for planet earth and best for humanity!! Jesus is a genius! He has a better understanding of human beings and what they need to flourish than anyone who ever lived! Jesus has established his authority and then unfolds the dream in his heart. His purpose and plan for the renewal of the world. What is his purpose and plan in what is known as the great commission and how will it be accomplished?
Jesus uses four verbs to share his purpose and plan for the world. Go, Make, Baptize, Teach. When reading Jesus' words in English it looks like all four verbs are of the same importance. But in the Greek language that Matthew's gospel is written in, there is one verb that is the main point and three verbs that support it and show us how to accomplish the first. The main verb ‘make disciples’ of all nations is Jesus’ main purpose for the earth. The three supporting verbs, go, baptizing and teaching are the helping verbs that tell us how making disciples is accomplished! Making mature disciples of Jesus happens when we ‘Go’ with the Gospel, Baptize people into new Life and new identity in the Family, teach them how to live their real lives in light of their new identity in Christ. These three supporting verbs answer the three biggest human questions. Going with the gospel answers who is God and what has he done, baptizing in new identity answers who are we individually and together in family, and teaching them how to live answers how we now walk in our new identity in light of who God is. According to Jesus, the Lord of heaven and earth, what the earth needs most is disciples! Jesus is so good that he tells us how we can do it. A disciple is someone who is following and being formed by Jesus in all of life. Jesus lets them know that with his authority and presence they can cross every cultural or ethnic barrier with the good news of his life, death and resurrection. They will be required to ‘go’ carrying and embodying a life transforming message. Those who respond to the message are welcomed to a whole new life and identity marked by baptism. A disciple is a new creation who has entered the water to die with Christ and risen to live a new life as God’s beloved. They are people who go on a lifelong journey of being immersed in the love and nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are not alone but rather adopted in God’s family, members of Christ body the church. Jesus gives them the plan for how these born again disciples will grow into maturity. They will have to be taught to obey everything he has commanded. Teaching someone to obey starts with teaching them to be “in Love”. Love motivates us and moves us. We are called to teach what Jesus taught. They are called commands not suggestions, but remember what he commands flows from his brilliant wisdom about human flourishing and his love for us. What is the greatest commandment? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31) No surprise that if Love is the fountainhead of obedience that the greatest commandment is Love of God and love of neighbor. What else has Jesus commanded? There are hundreds of NT commands, but there are a few that we can focus on that help us live all the others. We could summarize the great commission like this, “Make disciples who are following and are being formed by Jesus in all of life by Going to all people with the Good News and offer of the Gift of Grace, Baptizing those who believe in the Trinity and new Beloved identity, and teaching them all that Jesus taught about how to live in God’s Kingdom! This is the renewal of earth through the formation of all peoples!! Jesus' pattern for renewing the world was unfolded through the leading of the Holy Spirit in the historical account of the Book of Acts. The same pattern of laying out the gospel, new identity of believers and how they then should live was the general flow of many of the new testament letters that established the early churches in discipleship. Jesus’ great commission has transformed the earth up to this present moment!
At the end of this mesmerizing encounter Jesus gives the best promise of all. It is a promise to those who devote their lives with him to making disciples. He said, “And I will be with you always even to the end of the age.” We find out he isn’t some over demanding King who places expectations upon us and stands back to see whether we can hack it. He says plainly, you have me! I am with you always! Your reward and your resource to do this! I know the way to flourish, I am the way to flourish! I’m here to help you flourish and everyone else that I send you too! Jesus is with us and there is simply nothing greater!
Core Truths from the topic
Summary Scripture: Matt. 28:18-20- “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 4:19-20- “Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Acts 1:8- “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
John 1:45- “Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
John 15:16- “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
2 Timothy 2:2- “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Watch: 3 min Gospel Project (all ages) Peter Visited Cornelius: The Gospel Project for Kids