Learning to follow Christ is a lifelong journey. It begins when you trust in Jesus as Lord & Savior. The same grace that saves you is the grace that sustains you in your walk with Him. Remember daily that Jesus is the one who strengthens and guides you. As you read the Bible, you learn more and more about Jesus Christ and about what it means to follow Him.
In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus gives us clear instructions on the process of making disciples.
Matthew 28:16-20 (HCSB)
16 The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
A “disciple” is a follower. In our world today, maybe the term “apprentice” best expresses the idea. A disciple of Jesus is one who wants to learn to do everything just like Him: the way He talks, the way He walks, where He goes, how He thinks, how He relates to people, His attitude toward every situation, EVERYTHING.
Learning to follow Christ is a lifelong journey. It involves worshiping Jesus (v16). It means following Him even if there are doubts at times (v16). We are following the One who has absolute authority over all of the universe! (v17). We are going and making disciples of Jesus (v19), not just keeping this good news to ourselves. Disciples of Jesus tell the world of their faith in Christ through believer’s baptism (v19).
I want to focus for a moment on verse 20. Notice three important words/phrases.
- teaching — an important part of learning to follow Christ is that we teach others how to follow Christ. Huh? Yes, as you follow Christ, you have a responsibility to teach others. This may include your children, a friend, a Bible study group, a person that you led to faith in Christ, or a host of other people. As you grow in your faith, pass what you learn on to others. This will motivate you to learn even more. So – who are you teaching?
- observing — Jesus tells us that as we teach (and learn), we are to teach others (and ourselves) to observe everything He commands. This is that total “apprenticeship” we mentioned earlier. The goal is that every day we will be just like Jesus, and that the pattern of our life will be more and more like Christ as the years go by. Observing involves looking at the life, words and impact of Jesus, found in the pages of the Bible. Observing also has the meaning of “doing,” in the way that we “observe” special days (holidays, or the Lord’s Supper, for instance). Observing means seeing and doing. Are you observing EVERYTHING that Jesus commanded? As a follower of Christ, that should be your goal!
- depending on the Lord — Jesus says in verse 20 that He will be with us to the end of the age. He will be with us forever. That includes our days on earth. And that includes eternal life with Him in heaven. We don’t live the Christian life alone. We constantly depend on Him. When we remind ourselves (and each other) that we are continually depending on the Lord, then following Christ is not a burden but rather it is a joy!
Let’s make our life a lifetime of learning to follow Christ: teaching, observing, depending on the Lord.