Jesus wants you to be his disciple—a devoted learner-follower seeking to become like Him. The promise He gives to you if you will be His disciple is that He will be with you always. Being a disciple is a high calling with an even higher reward. But what, in real-life terms, does discipleship require? Just before Jesus left Earth to take His Throne in Heaven, He gave a set of instructions to His Apostles in what is now known now as “The Great Commission” (Mathew 28:16-20). In these parting words, the Lord lays out three essential elements to becoming a true disciple.
#1 Know the King
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)
There are many ideas in the world, even among ‘Christian’ people, about who Jesus is. Teacher, Healer, Savior, Advocate, Friend—all these are true, Biblical, and life-changing identities of Jesus. But Jesus is more than all of these things. He is King. The sovereign, ruling authority of Jesus is unfortunately a frequently overlooked reality. This is a tragic oversight. Knowing Jesus as King is essential for anyone who wants to be His disciple.
The proclamation of Jesus as King is found throughout the pages of Scripture. Numerous Biblical prophecies that ushered in His coming emphasized His reign as King (Genesis 22:17b; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 2, 110, 132; Daniel 7:9-14; Isaiah 9:1-7, 11:1-10; Jeremiah 33; et al). The titles used by the Gospels and rest of the New Testament such as “Christ”, “Son of God”, and “Son of Man” all hearken back to those prophecies and further highlight His Sovereign rule. Books like Matthew, Romans, and Revelation all begin with declarations that exalt Jesus for the Kingship He now claims through His Resurrection.
If I am ever going to truly be His disciple—a radically devoted learner and follower—then I must understand and subject myself to the truth that Jesus is King. This means when He commands something that I do not like, I must obey. When He speaks counter-cultural ideals, I must stand with Him. Wherever He leads, I must follow. Why? Because He is the King.
#2 Be Baptized In His Name
“…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19b)
Baptism is well known throughout most of the world as a Christian tradition. Unfortunately, many times the nature of baptism is misunderstood and so the practice has been perverted or overlooked even by people who are seeking to follow the Lord. Here are some common ideas about baptism that are mistaken.
- Baptism is administered by pouring or sprinkling water rather than full-body immersion.
- Baptism is something to be done after someone is already in Christ. (i.e. You get saved, then at some point after you should be baptized.)
- Baptism is optional and someone can be saved without it.
- Baptism can be for babies and not exclusively for believing, penitent adults.
- Baptism is for joining a church rather than Christ.
Baptism is a tremendously crucial element to being a disciple. Baptism is part of the final instructions Jesus gave before ascending to His Throne. Baptism was the response that the Apostles commanded after the first public proclamation of the Good News of Christ’s rule (Acts 2:36-41). Baptism is repeatedly shown as a necessary component of salvation from sin and devotion to Christ (Acts 8:35-40; 10:44-48; 16:25-34; 22:16). Baptism is described as the moment in which someone who has believed in the Gospel and repented from sin is transferred from being “in the world [or sin]” to being “in Christ” (Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 3:23-29; Colossians 2:11-15). In the words of Peter, “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21).
In order to devote yourself to a life of following Jesus the King, you must end the life of sin that you have been living. Baptism is the act in which God buries your sinful self in the death of Christ and then raises you up to walk in a newness of life. He died on the Cross for us. Now we must die in baptism with Him.
#3 Learn His Commands
“…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20a)
If being a disciple means that we are living a life of learning, then we must make sure that we are getting the right information. Jesus defines the right source of information in this text. Your church, your family, your culture, society at large, and certainly your own perspectives are now irrelevant. As disciples, we now make all of our decisions through the lens of what Christ has commanded us, and the way we know those commands is through those He sent out to deliver those commandments and instructions. Numerous New Testament passages further strengthen our appreciation of these final instructions of Jesus and tell us that in order to be disciples as He wants, we must listen to His Apostles and Prophets (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 2:19-3:5; 2 Peter 1:12-21; 3:1-2).
We of course cannot personally interact with these Apostles and Prophets, but we can still benefit from their work and learn from their Christ-given insight. The Bible, particularly the New Testament, is a collection of their writings. Through these writings we can be taught the Lord’s commands as He commissioned here in Matthew 28. When we read their writings, we are then able to understand the Lord’s will, know what He commands, and how we should live in response.
How much are you reading the Bible? At this point in Human history given risen literacy rates and abundant Bible resources, there is no legitimate reason that you should not be regularly engaging with Scripture. Now we have to be honest: reading the Bible can be daunting. You may have even tried before and found it overly complicated or overwhelming or just too confusing. But with a little bit of work and some loving, wise guidance, anyone can understand the Bible. Anyone can learn the commands of the Lord through the writings of His Apostles and Prophets. Anyone can be a disciple.
Do you want to become a disciple? Perhaps you have questions about the kingship of Jesus—why you should believe it, how He became King, what it means for your life. You might wonder or realize that what you have been taught about baptism could have been wrong. Or you may know what you need to do and are ready to be baptized into Christ. Maybe you are not sure about any of this, but you want to know more about the Bible. Whatever the case may be, we want to help. Reach out to us on our “Contact” page and let us know how we can help you be a disciple of the Lord and Savior!