Making disciples of Jesus Christ is the goal of the Great Commission. Christ commands us to go into all of the world and make disciples of all nations and then goes on to declare that making disciples includes water baptism and teaching them to obey whatever Jesus says! Most of us understand the importance of obeying Christ, but what is the big deal about water baptism as a part of making a disciple?
I think that it is easy to miss the disciple-making significance of the act of baptism. Water baptism demonstrates what may be the most powerful core truth of Biblical Christianity; namely, that this life is about a total identification with Jesus Christ so that the end product is that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. When I believed in Jesus’ bloody death on the cross, I completely died with Christ, I was buried with Christ, and now I am resurrected with Christ. That identification was so complete that from now on, to live is Christ!
You see, water baptism is not just an obedient action to Christ’s commandment, it is the ultimate statement of what I am now in Jesus Christ. Henceforth, my life is no longer my own—my life is not about me any longer at all—my life is simply about Jesus Christ. That is the core truth and message of water baptism and why it is central to making a disciple. It also logically and reasonably follows that from now on I live my life to obediently do the will of Christ.
Christianity is a complete identification with Jesus Christ, one that is so deep and profound that I no longer live, but Christ lives in and through me! Making disciples must start with this clear understanding or our obedience to Christ will always be incomplete!