Yeartext for 1970
“Go therefore and make disciples . . . baptizing them.”—Matt. 28:19.
We should always keep in mind that when Jesus said the above words he was saying them with the backing of the highest authority in all the universe. Please remember that when Jesus approached and spoke to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee he said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matt. 28:18) He received that authority from his Father in heaven. So when we listen to these words we should also have in mind that the one speaking them had already been raised from the dead and he had received the authority from his Father in heaven to do things. One of the things that had to be done and that was of greatest importance was for those individuals that he had taught for a few years now to follow out instructions and the command, “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”—Matt. 28:19, 20.
Not only were these disciples to do this work, but all other disciples who became such by reason of the work of those first ones commissioned by Jesus, were likewise to disciple people of all nations. They would give not only the witness concerning the Kingdom, as stated in Matthew 24:14, but they must also make disciples of people of all the nations. Undoubtedly many persons would listen to the good news that was being preached and they would want to know more. These were the ones that had to be taught the truth of God’s Word.
So today we have the written Word of God, including the Greek Scriptures, which gives instructions to Christians regarding their responsibilities. One of these responsibilities not only is to walk in the footsteps of Christ Jesus and live a life in harmony with the teachings of the Lord Jesus, but also to be a minister. A disciple must preach and make disciples of others. The eleven who were with Jesus in the mountain in Galilee were told to go and make disciples. Thus this command of Jesus is far-reaching and comes right down to mankind in this twentieth century.
When one becomes a disciple of the resurrected Jesus Christ he does not live a passive, easygoing life, but he lives an expressive life. He must speak forth to others the convictions he has regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, and his Father, Jehovah God. He strives to make others to whom he speaks disciples of Christ Jesus. Those thus discipled, as it were, are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit.
But even that is not the end of the matter. The teaching work continues on after that. Jesus mentioned the need of teaching persons to observe all of the things that he had commanded. One does not learn everything in one day, one week or one year. While it is true that many Christian witnesses of Jehovah have read the Bible, maybe accomplishing that in a few months’ time, still they do not know everything that is in it. The Bible must be studied, not only individually, but in company with other Christian witnesses in order to appreciate fully the teaching that Jesus set forth, as well as what the holy spirit directed his disciples to put down in writing for our admonition and learning.
There is another matter that we should have in mind and that is that Jesus Christ did not set a time limit on making disciples. It was a broad statement. He said: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.” That is exactly what Jehovah’s witnesses today are doing. In fact, thousands of missionaries have been sent out to the ends of the earth to accomplish this grand work. As the Yearbook for 1970 points out, world wide Jehovah’s witnesses have been able to bring to the point of baptism 120,905 individuals. These people of all nations and languages and backgrounds were baptized to be disciples of Jesus Christ. They are not baptized to be one of the “other sheep,” or one of the anointed members of the body of Christ. Whether in due time the dedicated, baptized person has the indication from God that he is begotten by God’s spirit to be a spiritual Israelite, or has been made a part of the “great crowd” of sheeplike individuals, one fact remains, and that is that the individual is fundamentally a baptized disciple of Christ. The same degree of faithfulness to Jehovah is expected of a disciple who is one of the “other sheep” as of one who is part of the anointed, spirit-begotten bride of Christ. A disciple is a disciple. So when Jesus said: “Go therefore and make disciples . . . baptizing them,” he meant that we should teach persons to observe all of the things that have been commanded. This takes time and effort. Jehovah’s witnesses are delighted that they have this privilege to carry on the discipling work in these “last days.” The Lord Jesus is still interested in the work that his people are doing, because he said: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matt. 28:20.
We can thus be assured that Jesus Christ is very much interested in what we are doing at this time in aiding people to flee from Babylon the Great, get an understanding of God’s Word and prove themselves to be disciples by dedicating their lives to Jehovah and getting baptized. Remember, the teaching work continues to help bring people on to maturity. Those who are dedicated, baptized disciples of Jesus Christ are the ones who will survive the approaching fiery destruction so as to enter into a truly Christian new order. Those thus baptized will surely pray for strength to continue on faithfully, doing the work that Jesus commanded, namely, to make disciples of people of all the nations. This can be done by preaching and teaching as Paul and the other apostles and disciples did. Because of the hard work of these faithful servants of God many were added to the ranks of Christ’s followers in the first century. It was of some of such added ones that the record in Acts 17:33, 34 says: “Some men joined themselves to him [Paul] and became believers, among whom also were Dionysius, a judge of the court of the Areopagus, and a woman named Damaris, and others besides them.” May our work bear like fruit as we seek to “make disciples . . . baptizing them.”