Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kingdom Disciples

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. Matthew 28:16-20

     When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. What a challenging verse! They had seen Him die. Now He was alive! Jesus had risen from the dead and walked among them. He had entered their rooms without walking through the doors. He let some touch His nail-pierced hands. Some disciples had eaten food cooked by the Lord Himself. He was alive. Very alive! What more evidence did they need? Yet still… some doubted. Why?
     Then Jesus came and spoke to them and said the now-famous words we casually call the 'Great Commission, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth."Jesus is now in charge. He has been given supreme authority in heaven and earth. He defeated the power and principalities through His death and resurrection and now He had the Name which is above every name! He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Everything is under His control and power. So, He commands us, "Go, therefore, and make disciples…"
     What is the connection between His authority and our ability to go? Making disciples is an impossible task. How does someone go 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 things He commanded? Jesus closed the Great Commission with a revealing statement and promise. He said, ―And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.‖
     I am with you. Me, He said. Not a system or a method. Me. A Person. I am with you. You can go because I am with you. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Jesus was pretty clear. A disciple is created to bear fruit and he or she does this by abiding in Him. Bearing fruit does not mean producing fruit. Bearing fruit means displaying the fruit produced by the Lord as He works with you, in and through your life. Kingdom disciples know apart from Jesus, they can do nothing of eternal significance at all.
     A disciple is a student, a learner. As Kingdom disciples, Jesus is our teacher. A person who abides in Jesus must abide in His Word, or he is not truly a disciple. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31, 32). As we abide in His Word, we will learn from Him. He will teach us truth and the truth will set us free to be who we truly are in Him, more fully expressing the resurrection life of a disciple of Christ.
     Jesus set the example, as the Son of Man, for us as One Who learns from Another. He was also a Disciple. He was fully God, yet He took the form of a man and submitted Himself to the Father God‘s leading, walking in perfect faith. Jesus said, "Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." (John 8:28,29). 
     Jesus did nothing of Himself. What an amazing statement coming from our Lord. Jesus said only the things the Father taught Him to say. He did only the things the Father told Him to do. Always! Perfectly! Wow! He always did those things that pleased God, and what pleases God more than faith?? Nothing! Jesus perfectly walked by faith in the Father, obeying His every command. If Jesus did nothing of Himself, but said and did only what the Father said to say and do, how much more should we speak and do only what we are taught by God to speak?
     Without faith it is impossible to please God. Jesus walked in perfect faith, learning obedience through what He suffered. He was taught by God and obeyed God. He lived a life in complete submission to the Father. What was the impact of one life completely surrendered to the will of God?? Unstoppable, uncontainable, indescribable impact of transformation that continues today.
     We are disciples who are being conformed into the image of Jesus, the King of our lives. He is teaching us to live by faith, completely abandoned and yielded to the reign of God within us. Jesus authored and He is perfecting our faith. He called us to Himself for the praise of His glory, as He draws men and women to Himself for His Name‘s sake. When we grasp and embrace who we really are in Christ, we discover we are on mission with our King, reigning with Him on the earth. We are His ambassadors, with one voice proclaiming His message to a lost and dying world. Our King is taking over the visible world, conquering all who stand against Him. And He is doing it through His people, His Kingdom disciples, His church.
     When we speak of Kingdom disciples we are talking about the reign of God in and through His people. He is bringing us back to Old Testament times when the invisible God was the King of Israel, but His people dethroned Him and set up a king they could see. The prophet Samuel warned the people not to do this ungodly act. As he cried out to God, God said, "They have not rejected you, they have rejected Me. Give them a physical king."
    But in Christ, God has reinstated Himself to the original plan as the invisible King of His people. He wants no person to be in this role physically. No pope or priest. No pastor or church. He is King and He reigns with His people in the spiritual realm, and all who call themselves Christians will openly admit Christ is their only true King.

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