First, why should we obey the command to make disciples? Jesus stated: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples.” The word “therefore” points to a major reason why we should obey this command. It is because Jesus, the one who issued the command, has “all authority.” How extensive is his authority?
Jesus has authority over his congregation, and has had authority over God’s established Kingdom. (Colossians 1:13; Revelation 11:15) He is the archangel and as such commands a heavenly army of hundreds of millions of angels. (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 19:14-16) He has been empowered by his Father to bring to nothing “all government and all authority and power” that oppose righteous principles. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Ephesians 1:20-23) Jesus’ authority is not limited to the living. He is also “judge of the living and the dead” and has God-given power to resurrect those who have fallen asleep in death. (Acts 10:42; John 5:26-28) Surely a command given by the One vested with such vast authority should be viewed as of the highest importance. Therefore, we respectfully and willingly obey Christ’s command to ‘go and make disciples.’
Early in his earthly ministry, Jesus taught his disciples in a striking way that recognizing his authority and obeying his commands would lead to blessings. He once told Peter, who was a fisherman: “Pull out to where it is deep, and you men let down your nets for a catch.” Peter was sure that there were no fish, so he told Jesus: “Instructor, for a whole night we toiled and took nothing.” However, Peter humbly added: “But at your bidding I will lower the nets.” After Peter obeyed Christ’s command, he caught “a great multitude of fish.” Overwhelmed, Peter “fell down at the knees of Jesus, saying: ‘Depart from me, because I am a sinful man, Lord.’” But Jesus answered: “Stop being afraid. From now on you will be catching men alive.” (Luke 5:1-10; Matthew 4:18) What do we learn from that account?
Jesus gave Peter, Andrew, and other apostles the assignment to “become fishers of men,” not before, but after they made this astonishing catch of fish. (Mark 1:16, 17) Clearly, Jesus did not require blind obedience. He gave the men a convincing reason why they should obey him. Just as obeying Jesus’ command to let their nets down led to overwhelming results, so obeying Jesus’ command to ‘catch men’ would lead to great blessings. In full faith, the apostles responded. The account concludes: “They brought the boats back to land, and abandoned everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:11) Today, as we encourage others to share in the work of making disciples, we imitate Jesus. We do not require that people simply do as we tell them, but we give them convincing reasons to obey Christ’s command.