Yesterday on the blog we said that a just church is a disciple-making church. That’s the unique task that Jesus has given His church in the Great Commission. Let’s consider the text again:
Matthew 28:18-20—“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.”
But what does all this mean? First, a just church proclaims the Gospel to anybody.
The first participle in the Great Commission is the word “go.” Again, this word isn’t the imperative in this text, but a participle that modifies the main imperative “make disciples.” It’s telling us how to go about our disciple-making task. Some have translated this “as you are going,” meaning that wherever you are, wherever you’re going, whatever you’re doing, be about the work of making disciples.
But what does it mean to make a disciple? Understanding the second participle, “baptizing,” will help. In Jack Black’s comedy Nacho Libre, the main character is a Catholic monk in Mexico who decides to become a masked luchador to raise money for the orphanage where he works. Before one of his fights, he becomes concerned that his partner, Escuelito, has not been baptized. So he fills up a bowl with water, sneaks up behind his friend and shoves his head in the bowl for a quick baptism.
This is not what Jesus is calling His disciples to do, and not just because Escuelito didn’t get fully immersed. The idea isn’t just to get people wet, but to lead them to genuine repentance and faith in the Gospel which is then symbolized in baptism.
And this is where making disciples begins. It begins with a local church’s commitment to proclaim the Gospel to anybody. No, I didn’t say everybody because no single church can do that on their own. But a just local church is willing to proclaim the gospel to anybody. In verse 19 Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” He’s commanding his followers to proclaim the Good News to every ethnic group. A just church proclaims the Gospel to anybody.