This will be my last post concerning our discussion of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) last Sunday. In that passage, neither Jesus nor Matthew tells us exactly what is meant by the command “make disciples”.
So, how can we know? Well, I find it interesting and important that Matthew ends his Gospel at this point. This places the command to “make disciples” in a prominent position, and actually helps us understand Matthew’s purpose in writing his Gospel. If we want to know what Jesus (and Matthew) meant by “make disciples” we only need to look at the rest of the Gospel of Matthew.
In other words, what did Jesus do to “make disciples”? Once we start answering that question, we will understand what we are supposed to do to make disciples. For the most part, Jesus not only proclaimed the gospel, taught, and cared for others by healing the sick, casting out demons, etc., he also shared his life and death with others as a living example of what it means to live in the kingdom of God. In making disciples, we also must share our lives with others as a living example.
Also, I think Paul is helpful here. He reminded Timothy of how he had learned from Paul:
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings… (2 Timothy 3:10-11a ESV)
We must give people an example to follow, not just with our words, but with the way we live our lives. And, we must share that life with others so that they will have a living example, not just our words.