This morning, as we continue our adventure in The Story, we are going to explore the ministry of Jesus.
--We get excited about the Incarnation of Jesus... That’s Christmas...
--We remember his death every week in the Lord’s Supper.
--The Resurrection has its own holiday... Easter.
But what Jesus did, day in and day out, for three years, we often slide over. “Jesus healed people and taught some cool sermons, mentoring the disciples, but mostly he was just bidding his time until the right time to do the big stuff.” This morning, I want to dissuade you of that thought. This morning, I am going to advocate that what Jesus did in his ministry is the point.
“What? That can’t be right. Jesus came to die, to pay for my sins, so I can go to heaven.” I am going to argue that statement is triple-wrong. This morning, we are going to catch a glimpse of what the kingdom of heaven coming to earth is all about.
You may have noticed that our world is not perfect. You could say that our world is broken. There are lots of problems in our world. There are lots of things wrong. There are enormous amounts of pain... suffering... hurt. I suspect I am not telling you anything you have not observed, already.
There seems to be forces that are aligned against us. There seems to be something behind our inabilities to have a nice world. There seems to be enemies of humanity who actively work against us. I am not talking about the Republicans, or Hollywood or Wall Street or even some Islamic Jihad. The enemies of humanity are much bigger.
The enemies I’m talking about are...
The four major enemies of humanity...
Enemy #1... Satan... with all his cohorts
Enemy #2... Sin... with all its flavors
Enemy #3... Illness... physical, mental, social
Enemy #4... Death... the last enemy
This is what the ministry of Jesus was all about... Jesus fought all four enemies. During his ministry, Jesus fought against these four enemies. In the ministry of Jesus, he began the restoration of our world by defeating these four enemies. That is what the kingdom of heaven coming to the earth is all about!
Let’s observe the ministry to see how Jesus fought against the four enemies of humanity. There is a clue in here that this is the point of his coming.
Enemy #1 Satan
Matthew, Mark and Luke all begin the ministry of Jesus with a confrontation with... Satan for 40 days in the wilderness.
Mark 1:12-13 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
The first thing Jesus did was duke it out with Satan. This confrontation with Satan was all about how Jesus was going to do his ministry. The three temptations, with which Satan tempted Jesus, are all about how the Messiah operates.
--Jesus was not going to do it the easy way, by turning rocks to bread... give gifts... a gospel of prosperity would have been an easy.
--Jesus was not going to do it the spectacular way, by jumping off buildings. Lots of showing off... wasn’t really how Jesus did his ministry.
--Jesus was not going to it the power way, the Satan way, the Roman way, the military way, by conquering the world with brutality. “Follow me and we will rule the world!”
Satan temped Jesus to be the Messiah the easy way; the spectacular way; the power way. But Jesus said no.
Instead, Jesus came to do his ministry the Grace-Truth, way. Jesus came to do it the Mercy-Might, way. Jesus came to be the With-Savior, way. Jesus ministry went head-to-head with our #1 enemy; Satan. But he did it his way. Jesus went to the gates of hell to claim us back from Satan with grace, mercy and companionship!
Jesus shows us how we oppose Satan. It is not with bread or shows or power.
--We defeat Satan when we are gracious to the ungrateful.
--We defeat Satan with the might of mercy towards the undeserving! By offering mercy to others we drive Satan out of the world!
--We defeat Satan by being with others... who are hard to be with... showing them how to move from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of Heaven.
The ministry of Jesus was about driving Satan from this world. That was the point!
Our ministry, our purpose, is to oppose the evil one in the world with grace, mercy and companionship.
Watch what Jesus does with Enemy #2...
Enemy #2 Sin
Mark 2:3-12 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"- he said to the paralytic- "I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home." And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"
Jesus attacked our enemy, sin with... forgiveness. Those who have faith in Jesus are moved from the kingdom of sin into the kingdom of forgiveness. Jesus erases our enemy; sin. Jesus guts the power of sin. Jesus has authority over sin. More on this at the end of the sermon.
We operate by offering the same forgiveness. “Here, here, look... there is forgiveness. Live in a kingdom where sin is forgiven!
Jesus came in his ministry demonstrate authority over sin! Bam Enemy #2 defeated!
Enemy #3 Brokenness
Matthew 4:22-24 Immediately, they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus. And Jesus went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So, his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.
Jesus, in his ministry, began to fix the things that are broken. All kinds of things wrong with our bodies; all kinds of things wrong with our minds; there are all kinds of social psychosis. Jesus came to teach right thinking. Jesus came to heal. Jesus came to drive out all kinds of demons. Jesus came to begin the restoration project! This world was not created in brokenness. The world is supposed to be whole. Jesus came to fix the brokenness of the world.
Jesus modeled what ministry looks like. It is helping the broken. It is restoring the world... This gives meaning to feeding the hungry. Caring for the hurting. Being comfort to the suffering. We work to bring restoration to this world by leaving our religious boats and following the healing Jesus.
Bringing healing to hurting of this world... continues His project of restoration!
The ministry was the point.
Enemy #4 Death
Mark 5:35-42 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her... "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.
The last enemy to be destroyed by Jesus is death. Jesus has power over death. Jesus has the power to raise us... just like he did to this little girl. “Death... Enemy #4... no problem!”
One day, through the power of his resurrection, Jesus will put death to death. One day our last enemy, the brokenness of death will be healed. One day we will live forever.
That changes our ministry today. We live knowing we will live again. We live giving this life in ministry... because we have another life coming!
We advance the kingdom of heaven as we drive back the power of death!
Jesus began the attack on the four enemies of humanity. Jesus demonstrates how we drive back the four enemies of humanity. Jesus began the restoration process in his ministry. He passed on his ministry to his disciples, who have passed it on down through the centuries. We step into the ministry of Jesus as we combat the four enemies.
The ministry of Jesus was the point, because the point is to restore our world! The Bible does not teach that when we die we go to heaven. Isn’t that an odd thing that we all believe? I looked. The Bible never says that when we die we go to Heaven. Rather, in several places, Jesus says he is coming back here to finish the restoration he started in his ministry.
His mission is to restore the world. Our mission is to restore the world. Our lives, here on this earth, are meaningful as we advance the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Let me close with one more thought...
Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
Jesus was baptized to inaugurate his ministry. Here is how I have begun to picture... baptism and the kingdom.
--Jesus is the With-Savior... Jesus became us to led us out of the wilderness of sin across the river into the kingdom of heaven. That river is baptism. Baptism is a commitment to be about the ministry of Jesus. Moving from one kingdom, across a border into a totally different kingdom.
--One side of the river is Satan, Sin, Brokenness, and Death. Jesus leads us, as the With-Savior, across the river of baptism to the other side where Satan has no power; Sin doesn’t matter; Brokenness is being healed; Death does not intimidate us.
--It is like, on the kingdom side of the river; on this side of the river, we have diplomatic immunity... which is forgiveness.
--One day, upon his return, the final stages of the restoration will happen. Then, we will get the life, after this life. We will dwell with our LORD forever!
Hey... we all need to... Cross the river!
The ministry of Jesus is the point. Jesus came to restore creation. We join the restoration project by driving the enemies out... we follow the lead of Jesus in his ministry. Jesus’ ministry is the point. It is the beginning of a campaign to bring the kingdom of heaven to this earth.
July 1, 2018
Los Alamos Church of Christ