Summary: Jesus demonstrated God’s power through the Holy Spirit and left that power to every believer as He ascended into Heaven.
Text: “…He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).
When Jesus started his ministry on earth, He preached these words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Prior to Jesus’ appearance on earth, “the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God” was not present. God was always present, but the “kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God” was not present or at hand until God appeared on earth in human form.
Jesus ministry was a continuation of John’s ministry. John had preached these same words, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2) that Jesus continued to preach. John was the one Isaiah talked about when he said, “A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him” (Isaiah 40:3).
John knew that his duty was to prepare the way for Jesus. Scripture states, “While Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness and he went into all the regions around Jordan, preaching baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Luke 3:2-3). Isaiah had written the words and John followed through as God commanded.
When John appeared on the scene and started preaching repentance for sin, Jesus was about 30 years old. John knew the Messiah was about to appear to give man another opportunity to change from his life of sin. Natural man was living a life of greed, dishonesty, cheating, lying, sexual misconduct, envy, anger, etc…
John admitted that he was not the Messiah or the Lamb of God. He said, “I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’” (John 1:33).
Then John went on to say, “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34). There was no doubt that John’s witness is true because it was a divine revelation. It was sent from God Himself.
After John baptized Jesus and the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to fast for 40 days and 40 nights, Satan was given the opportunity to tempt Him. By facing temptation, Jesus now knew what mankind was faced with. Although Scripture gives only three ways Satan tempted Jesus, I believe these three ways encompass all the temptations man faces.
This was a test just like the time God led the Israelites into the desert to wander around for 40 years. God wanted to know what was in their heart. He wanted to know whether or not the Israelites would keep His commandments. God wanted them to know that “…man shall not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Jesus did not fall for Satan’s offers even though he was very hungry after 40 days. He responded to Satan after each offer of temptation with the Word of God. This was the beginning of what Jesus was ready to teach mankind. Living true to the Word of God will not let you fall to temptation and end up in sin.
After Jesus started His ministry and picked his 12 disciples and began to teach the people, crowds gathered to hear him because they could sense He was different. What He said made sense to most of the people. None of the 12 disciples questioned Jesus when He asked them to follow Him.
When Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, it was merely a sign to demonstrate the power and the glory of God. He never intended to draw attention to himself. This was pretty amazing in the eyes of the disciples and there was no doubt in their minds that Jesus was the Messiah.
Nicodemus, a Pharisee, a respected member of the Sanhedrin, a very educated man, came to Jesus one night and Jesus said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Although Nicodemus was very educated in the Jewish law, he did not understand what Jesus was saying. Nicodemus did not realize that he was very close to the kingdom of God.
The Holy Spirit had not yet come, but nevertheless Jesus talked about the Spirit. Jesus also said to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13). Did Nicodemus understand Jesus? I don’t know.
The point I am trying to make is that all through His ministry, Jesus explained his mission, how he would die, and that each individual could have the kingdom of God within his or her heart.