Summary: This sermon takes a look at Jesus’ message of Repentance and the Kingdom of God.
Title: From the Wilderness to the Mission Field
Text: Matthew 4:12-17
Location: Sulphur Spring Baptist Church
Introduction: Last week we looked at the temptations that Jesus faced in the Wilderness and discovered that we as Christians do not have to experience the “Agony of Defeat” when it comes to Temptation. Instead, because the Holy Spirit lives inside of each one of us, He can and will give us the strength to overcome the Temptations that Satan throws at us.
This week I want us to find out what Jesus did next. According to the book of Luke, when Jesus left the Wilderness He went to his hometown of Nazareth. While there He taught in the Synagogue and even though they were amazed at his knowledge and understanding of the Scripture they rejected Him and even tried to kill him. So He left Nazareth and went to Capernaum and began preaching and ministering to the people there.
I want you to think about the Sermons that Jesus preached and the lessons he taught for a couple of minutes. Jesus said some incredible things during His earthly ministry. In fact, the Bible clearly tells us that the people were amazed at his teachings, because he “taught as one who had authority.”
Jesus said things like:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5:13 (NIV)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43 (NIV)
“Seek first His Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be give to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
All of those quotes come from The Sermon on the Mount, but that wasn’t the first sermon Jesus preached when he left the wilderness. Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 4:12-17, and lets find out what was.
When I was a Senior in college at Murray State University a self proclaimed street preacher came to campus and caused quite a stir. He would stand in the Commons area between the dorms and preach to the students as they walked by. Although I’m not sure you could really call what He did preaching. In fact from what I remember he was very crude, rude, and obnoxious. He insulted people and told them they were going to die and go to Hell if they didn’t repent. I don’t remember him sharing the plan of salvation or even reading the Bible. He simply said, “Repent before it’s too late.”
I imagine there were some people who thought Jesus was just another ‘nut case’ like John the Baptist who had been put in prison for telling the people to Repent of their sins.
Let’s face it people don’t like to be told that they are sinners or that they need to repent. They didn’t like it in the Old Testament, They didn’t like it in the 1st Century and they don’t like it today.
Which reminds me of something I heard about a famous preacher by the name of Peter Cartwright, who by the way, was converted during a camp meeting in Logan County in 1801. He surrendered to the ministry in 1802 and became one of the leaders of what we now refer to as the 2nd Great Awakening. Cartwright personally baptized over 12,000 people during his ministry.
He was a Methodist Circuit rider and spent most of his ministry in Kentucky and Tennessee. Peter Cartwright was what we would refer to as a “Hellfire and Brimstone” type of Preacher. He didn’t beat around the bush and was famous for telling it like it was. Around 1830 Cartwright was preaching a Revival near Washington D.C. The Pastor and some of the other leaders in the church found out that President Andrew Jackson was going to attend one of the Revival services. Of course they were excited about the President’s visit, and didn’t want to offend him in any way. So they pulled Mr. Cartwright aside and said, "Listen Peter, the President is going to be here on Sunday and we know that sometimes you can get kind of offensive, so would you mind toning it down just a little. We wouldn’t want to upset the President."
Sure enough, the President attended the service that Sunday morning. When Peter Cartwright stepped up to the Pulpit this is what he said, "I understand that the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson is with us this morning. I have been asked to be guarded in my remarks. But the truth is, Andrew Jackson will go to Hell is he doesn’t repent." The Pastor and other church leaders were appalled, but when the service was over Andrew Jackson grabbed Mr. Cartwright’s hand, shook it and said, "Sir, if I had an army of men like you I could whip the world."