You probably recognize the title of this post as part of the Great Commission. The Great Commission is a name given to one of the statements that Jesus made after his resurrection and just before he ascended into heaven.
Throughout the years, different groups of Christians have emphasized this passage. Until recently, those who emphasized this command (such as some of the Anabaptists) were persecuted and even tortured for attempting to do what Jesus told his disciples to do.
Just to put this post in perspective, here’s the entire statement:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
While this passage has been examined and studied and subjected to every kind of analysis known to man, there is one part of it that I rarely see or hear addressed: “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Oh, I’ve heard the “teaching” part emphasized and even the “all” part. But, what about “to observe”…
Think about the difference between these two statements:
- Teaching them all that I have commanded you…
- Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…
The difference is obvious, right. Jesus did not tell his disciples to teach people WHAT he had taught them, but instead to teach them TO OBSERVE (i.e., keep or obey) what he had taught them. That’s a huge difference.
But, how does this difference play into our understanding of “the Great Commission” and how does it affect what we do about helping others become followers (disciples) of Jesus Christ?
Here are a few points to consider:
- Our goal is not giving people information or even understanding.
- Our goal is for people to obey to Jesus Christ (not us).
- We cannot make someone obey Jesus Christ.
- We cannot help someone obey by simply telling them information.
- We must show them what it means to obey Jesus Christ.
Again, this has HUGE implications to what it means to help someone follow Jesus Christ. Giving information – even good and true information – is, at best, a miniscule part of the Great Commission.
Would you be willing to help me and my readers think through what it means to “teach them to observe all that [Jesus] commanded”? How has someone helped you obey Jesus? How has God used you to help others observe Jesus’ commands? How do we help others obey without trampling on the work of the Spirit or the grace of God?