Key verses – Matthew 28:16-20:
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Jesus’ command to His disciples contains three parts:
- Teach the nations
- Baptize them
- Teach the nations
The first thing I noticed about this passage is that Jesus mentions teaching twice. The first teaching that Jesus is talking about is the teaching used to provide information. After hearing this information, the gospel truth, the Holy Spirit works in the hearts and minds of the listeners, anchoring the spoken and written word within the recesses of the mind. As the truth embeds itself into the minds of the hearers, further study is required. More truth is collected, analyzed, and stored for future access.
This initial learning process is incremental and will eventually lead to baptism. As a personal example, it took 8 years of study for me to be convinced of the things I was learning. Even then, I gave it another year, just in case. Baptism is a symbol of rebirth, of giving in to the call from God and renouncing the old sinful ways of the world. Baptism represents capitulation to the will of God. It is the ultimate sacrifice that we as humans can make and it is not to be taken lightly. Also, baptism is not just symbolic. The Holy Spirit finds a much better home in the body and mind of the baptized Christian. The baptized is much more receptive to the voice of God and is much more likely to follow His instruction.
This leads us to the second mention of the “teach the nations” command, which is just as important as the first, if not more. Jesus tells his disciples to instruct the newly baptized to observe all the things that Jesus commanded the disciples to observe. After baptism, the life of the Christian is meant to change. We are meant to be closer to God, to read His word daily, to pray constantly, and to be a light unto the world. All these directives require instruction from the Christians who have been practicing for years. Bible study with an elder, prayer meetings with brothers and sisters, and following the good examples in the church are practical ways to live a Christian life in accordance to the commandments of God.
Let there be no confusion about what God expects from us in these last days, or about what Jesus commanded his disciples to observe. In Revelation 12, verse 17, we are told that the remnant church will keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. God expects us to keep all His commandments. There is no excuse not to do so. He also expects us to have the words of Jesus imprinted into our very being. Just as Jesus commands the disciples to teach the nations to observe his instructions, so John the apostle reminds the remnant church to observe the instructions of Jesus, his testimony.
Let us not forget in these last days about these extremely important parts of the Christian life: baptism, keeping the commandments of God, and observing the teachings of Jesus Christ. May the Lord guide you as you reflect upon these matters.