Tim Melton / Matt 28 / August 13, 2017 In this sermon pastor Melton looks at the great commission in Matthew 28:16-20. In this passage we find Jesus’ command to go into all the world and make disciples. For many Christians, the idea of discipleship is a foreign concept. Not many know what it is, or if they have some idea at all, they usually associate it with a name given to the twelve men who followed Jesus during his three year ministry – namely, “The Twelve Disciples”. It usually does not occur to them that when they first believed the claims of Jesus, and trusted in him as Savior – that thereafter – just like those twelve men so long ago – they were also expected to follow Jesus as King… to follow him as a disciple.
And, even if Christians did know that much, they may not realize that following King Jesus does not mean to simply relate to King Jesus as mankind’s greatest “Role Model”. Despite popular belief, Jesus is not some sort of cosmic, moral example to be emulated. In fact, if anyone has read very much about Jesus’ life, they would immediately find that following his example is about as possible as sprouting wings and flying to the moon. Yet, along these lines, Christians are often told to ask themselves a question like “What Would Jesus Do?” Although this might be a sincere question, it tends to foster a “Super Christian” mentality because it assumes some things that shouldn’t be assumed. In effect, there are three misguided assumptions that are found in the question – What Would Jesus Do?:
1) First of all, the question assumes that we can do the things that Jesus did. Yet, Jesus was and is God. He had the supernatural ability to do things that we would never be able to do. Think about it for a moment. During his life on earth, Jesus turned water into wine, walked on water, told the weather to behave, and even raised a man from the dead. He has miraculous authoritative power over all things. We do not.
2) Second of all, the question assumes that we can know what Jesus would do in a given situation. Yet, even the disciples were amazed at the way Jesus responded to every situation – like when a woman was brought to him who was caught in adultery – with perfect fidelity to love and perfect fidelity to Truth. All of his decisions were perfectly wise. Ours never will be.
3) Finally, the question assumes that we know who Jesus is. Yet, most people don’t really know who Jesus is. He is certainly more than our moral example. He is not simply a role model – like Ronald Regan. As God our Savior, Jesus is infinitely more than we might expect and we are called to worship him and relate to him as infinitely more than an example to be emulated. He is the Savior of his people and the King of all creation. He is God in the Flesh and infinitely glorious. We are not.
Since these things are true, we cannot simply ask ourselves – “What Would Jesus do?” – and then set off to follow his example. Following him does not mean looking at Jesus’ life, externally copying his actions, and then attempting to be a Super Christian. No. Following Jesus and Christian Discipleship means something else entirely. To say it clearly and simply: Discipleship is learning to be DEPEND.
So, when we seek to follow King Jesus – instead of asking the question “What Would Jesus Do?” – it may be better to ask, “Are we learning to depend on King Jesus?” Are we learning to:
DEPEND on King Jesus’ supernatural ability and miraculous work, not on our own power.
DEPEND on King Jesus’ perfect fidelity and decisive wisdom, not on my our wisdom.
DEPEND on King Jesus’ divine identity and glorious presence, and not on our ourselves.
These are much better questions because Christian Discipleship centers on following the actual, living person of King Jesus in complete dependence. It is learning to follow him – this very moment – the way a hungry child might follow after its mother – by being dependent. Or the way a blind man might hold on to and follow a man who can see – by being dependent. Or the way a drowning man might cling to the nearest boat – by being dependent.
Therefore, Christian Discipleship does not mean following Jesus by imitating the pattern of his life, it means following Jesus by depending on the actual person: Believing in who he is, trusting him as Savior, and following him as King… or as the Bible puts it – to have Faith. Faith EQUALS Dependence. Dependence EQUALS believing. Believing EQUALS trusting. Trusting EQUALS following.
All of these terms work together to describe the same thing: Dependent Faith.
And that is the entire goal of Christian Discipleship: Learning to Depend on the work, wisdom, and presence of King Jesus.