Story, Ch. 23 03/19/17—Highland—Meute
The Story: “Jesus’ Ministry Begins”
The Story, Ch. 23
I Corinthians 13: 1-7; Mark 1: 9-22
Pearl: Jesus’ priorities in his public ministry.
Function: To succinctly capture what God wants people to know about God from Jesus’ public ministry.
It is daunting to try to boil down Jesus’ three year public ministry into one Sunday. But there may be a benefit in trying to distill down into one message the major essence of what God sought to convey in Jesus’ short pubic ministry.
Through the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth you meet your God!
First and foremost God is “scary good” at delivering from evil and from that which binds and oppresses.
1. Deliverance is a major emphasis of the Old Testament. The Exodus event where God delivered his people from bondage and oppression in Egypt is the primary act of deliverance par excellence still remembered and celebrated by Jews today. God is a Deliverer of his people.
2. At the very beginning of Jesus coming out to the world after 30 years of obscurity his first act after baptism was to go into the wilderness to be tested and tempted by the devil.
a. In a way what happened in that wilderness was a rematch between the devil and humanity.
i. Jesus was God in the flesh but also completely human. He was humanity’s last great hope to reverse what occurred in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of creation.
b. This is why Jesus is referred to as the “Second Adam.” The stakes were very high during those 40 days in the wilderness.
c. Jesus “delivered himself” from the “divider” (“divider” is the essence of the name “devil.”)
i. The “Divider” tried to separate the Son from the Father.
ii. God, however, is a unifier; spirits of division are not godly. Jesus was tempted to separate from the Father.
1. He was tempted to get nourishment from something other than God. (“…command these stones to become bread”)
2. He was tempted to distrust God by testing him. (…jump off the this pinnacle of the temple and the angels will catch you”)
3. He was tempted to get power for himself in opposition to the Father. (“…bow to me and I will put you over all the nations”)
iii. Jesus maintained his connection to the Father and delivered himself from temptation.
3. After delivering himself from evil he then commenced his public ministry where he went from town to village delivering people. He did this all throughout his ministry.
a. There are stories of Jesus delivering people from demons (may be an ancient way of describing psychotic forms of sickness).
b. He healed the sick; cured the lame; restored the sight of the blind; he made the mute speak; he raised the dead; he restored people’s sanity; he cleansed the leper, and so on.
c. He delivered people from afflictions, torments, and all the while proclaiming that the Kingdom of God had come near.
i. Because of what he was doing and saying crowds followed him everywhere.
When you meet God through Jesus Christ you find that you are delivered; you are delivered from sin; you are delivered from that which binds and oppresses life and the human spirit.
When you meet God in and through Jesus Christ you find that God is truly good! That is how I want to characterize the way in which Jesus clashed with the teachers of the Law.
1. Jesus repeatedly through his public ministry taught in a new way. They said, “He teaches with authority and not like the other teachers of the Law.” They knew he was expounding upon the Law. It was obvious that he knew the Law but opened it in a new way. Jesus taught the “spirit of the Law” rather than the “letter of the Law.”
a. He healed, but one day he made sure to heal someone on the Sabbath. This pushed the buttons of the scribes. He was violating a commandment. Or was he?!
b. When the lame man was lowered through the roof by four friends to be placed at the feet of Jesus, upon healing him, Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” He knew what he was doing. He knew this would perplex and anger the religious establishment. But it was true. He could forgive sin!
c. He deliberately engaged a Samaritan woman at the well in conversation. He purposely did this to open boundaries.
d. He purposely ate with “sinners” and tax collectors knowing it would inflame the spiritual leaders, the ones so well-known for “keeping the Law.” When he was called on it he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
2. Jesus continually and purposefully butted up against the teachers of the Law to make clear that something major was lacking! That is, the spirit of the Law which makes people free was missing. Rather, the Law was something that only the elite were keeping, or so everyone thought, and this was wrong.
a. The Law of God, the Way of God, is a burden which frees. It is not like any other burden.
b. This is partly why the bible can be very disturbing to church leaders. All of those clashes which Jesus had with the clergy of his day got me to thinking about what Jesus is saying to the clergy today!
i. Upon digging deep into the Law and the Word you find the spirit of the Law and of the Word. It is something real, and living, and so very freeing, and good.
ii. It is not binding. Jesus gives you a burden but it is not like any other burden. It is a burden of love which frees and leads to life and release and redemption.
iii. You find deliverance and freedom by taking on the burden (yoke) of Christ. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11: 28-30).
c. Taking on the “yoke of Christ” is an ethic and a way of life. It is demanding. But it is truly freeing!
d. Jesus wanted people to put on his burden of love that leads to life and health and salvation. Your burden of love is your right and proper burden as a follower of Christ.
When you meet your God in Jesus Christ you also meet the Savior, the Messiah of the world. In his public ministry he revealed that he is the long-awaited Messiah. He was careful how he made it known, but he made it known.
1. He often told people not say what he had done for them. He sought to control the spread of the news.
a. Read the Gospel of Mark and pay attention to how often Jesus says, “Say nothing to anyone.” It is known as the “Messianic Secret.” It is very different from the Gospel of John which is strikingly out front and in your face with who Jesus is.
2. But without a doubt Jesus gradually did allow the notion that he was the Messiah to spread.
a. He constantly worked against the mainstream expectation that when the Messiah appeared this Messiah would deliver God’s people, the Jews, from Roman oppression. They expected that Jesus would lead an outright overthrow of Roman rule and would become the visible and physical reigning authority over the whole world.
b. This was precisely not the nature of the reign of God which Jesus was revealing.
3. The most telling direct interpretation of what the Messiah’s reign was about came from his response to John the Baptist’s burning question. John sent one of his followers to Jesus to ask the question: “Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?” Jesus said, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who does not take offense at me” (Matt. 11: 3-6)
a. Jesus responded to this question of John the Baptist with direct references to Old Testament prophecy about the nature of the Messiah’s reign (Isaiah 29: 18-19; 35: 5-6; 61:1).
b. Jesus’ response to John’s disciple is a telling revelation of who Jesus the Messiah is and what the essence of the Kingdom of God is about.
4. Going further Jesus then spoke of Cousin John the Baptist.
a. First Jesus referred to the expectation that Elijah would come again to be a sign of the immanent appearance of the Messiah. Jesus said: “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen!” (Matt. 11:13-15).
The public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Christ, was to allow the generations to meet the Lord God of all and by meeting God to begin to understand the nature of God and of God’s kingdom.
When you meet God revealed in Jesus’ public ministry,
1. you find that God is Deliverer;
2. you find that God’s goodness brings true life and freedom;
3. and you find that God is none other than the promised Messiah!