Last Words (Discipleship: Part 1 of 5)

by Daniel Rieke

Last words are usually important words. Often last words are THE most important or impactful part of a conversation – the most vital piece of information that we want to be certain is communicated clearly...

  • A parent’s last words as their child pulls out of the driveway and off to college for the first time

  • A commencement speech at a graduation

  • A handwritten note left as a part of a mother’s will as final words to her kids and grandchildren

  • The lawyer’s closing argument in a criminal trial

  • The final line of a band’s album

Last words usually carry weight and meaning. They tend to indicate heightened importance, and they urge us not to miss them or fail to take heed of them.

In light of this, I want to briefly examine Jesus’ last words before ascending into Heaven after having died on the cross and risen from the dead.

Matthew 28:18-20

[18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [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 all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”[1]

In Jesus’ final words while walking the earth, He told His disciples to make disciples. The mission Jesus gave His followers is to go and make disciples. And Jesus explained what He meant by that in verse 19 and 20. He wants us to baptize, the underlying implication being that we need to make converts to Christ who will publicly declare their faith in and allegiance to Jesus through baptism. And then we need to teach these new converts to obey the Word of God.

So in short, making disciples can be summed up in that way: we’re supposed to share the gospel with those who don’t know Christ and then, when God saves them, we are to teach them how to obey God’s Word (part of which means that these new converts grow spiritually and then begin making disciples themselves). So discipleship is about multiplying the number of believers and the maturity of believers. Or stated differently, discipleship is about focusing on intentional interaction with another person so as to see them submit to the teaching of God’s Word in every area of life so that they are equipped to do the same with others.

On the one hand, discipleship should look very similar in every culture and in every era in that it is primarily about sharing the gospel and teaching obedience to the Word of God. But practically, discipleship can, and probably should, look different in how it plays out practically in various cultures and life stages. The important thing is that discipleship should always be our goal at any stage of life, even though it will likely look different practically during different seasons.

I’ll spend the next several of my blog posts exploring this concept of discipleship at a very practical level, answering questions like: How did Jesus make disciples? Am I qualified? Who should I make disciples of? How do I make disciples practically? What does discipleship success look like? Etc. So stay tuned as we seek to make discipleship THE main focus of our Christian lives.



[1] Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Good books to check out on discipleship:

The Trellis & The Vine by Marshall & Payne

The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman