I remember playing Simon Says in grade school. It is a simple game meant to teach listening and following directions. The game may be called something different where you live. The rules are really basic. The leader gives a series of commands which the students are to follow. But they are to only follow the ones that begin with the phrase “Simon says…”. Simon says pat your head. Simon says clap your hands. Stomp your feet. Oops, Simon didn’t say that. It’s with that game in mind that we introduce our next series of articles.
Whenever people gather there are rules or understandings. The military has standing orders. Businesses have standard procedures. Families have known rules and expectations. Jesus gave his followers something similar. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20, NASB95)
English translations seem to put the emphasis on “go” since it comes across as a command. Looking at the Greek paints a slightly different picture. “Going” is a state of being. The command, the imperative verb, is “make disciples.” This is followed by the activities of making disciples – baptism and instruction. We could rephrase it – Make disciples everywhere you go, baptizing them and teaching them to follow all that I commanded you. This is our standing order, Our standard practice. Our family rule and expectation.
But I have to ask a question – What commands is Jesus talking about? What are the commands we’re to teach followers of Jesus to observe? That set me on a search, a Google search. Surely someone has already compiled a list of Jesus’ commands. And sure enough, I found several such lists. I then pared those down to the commands that seem to extend beyond the immediate situation. I don’t think that Jesus’ Great Commission commands include “fill the water pots with water” (John 2:7).
The result is a list of 28 “Jesus says” commands. There’s nothing magical or final about the number. Someone could assemble the list differently and come up with a few more or compress some together and arrive at a few less. The point is that these are the expressed expectations Jesus has for those who follow Him. These commands are our standing orders. We’ll explore those commands over the next fourteen weeks.
It may seem like a lot to remember. After all God only gave Moses ten commandants. But as John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3, NASB95) I’ll tell you a little secret, all 28 of the Jesus’ commands are in some way an expression of the greatest commandments to love God with everything we are and to love our neighbor. I hope that you’re looking forward to this next adventure of following Jesus.