The Beginning of a Dynamic Ministry
Series: Then Jesus…
June 2, 2013
Reading through the gospels will unmistakably cause one to encounter the person and the purpose of Jesus. The gospels are filled with the work and the purpose of Jesus. Every page reveals another glimpse of His character and deeper insight into Christ’s redemptive work.
A simple two word phrase that appears often in the gospels is the subject of this series; Then Jesus… Each time these words appear in the gospel accounts, they signal something of importance is about to take place in the ministry and mission of Jesus. These words set off the dynamic nature of Christ’s personal work. The phrase Then Jesus… gives us another piece of the puzzle of His purpose. Each reference to these words adds another snapshot to the scrapbook of the Savior. Every moment is another revelation of the mission and ministry of Jesus.
Jesus arrived on this earth with a mission to fulfill and a ministry to complete. Each time we read the words, Then Jesus…, we are one step closer to the mission being fulfilled and one step closer to the ministry being completed.
Mission: Why Jesus came to earth
Ministry: What Jesus came to accomplish
Moments of Mission
Baptism of Jesus (Empowerment) – Beginning of the mission and the ministry
Temptation of Jesus (Enablement) – Power over the evil one
Sending of the 12 (Equipping) – Expansion of the mission
Moments of Ministry
Raising of Lazarus (Power) – Display of Christ’s power over death
Feeding of the 5,000 (Provision) – Demonstration of Christ’s ability to provide
Garden of Gethsemane (Petition) – Dependence on the will of the Father
This morning as we launch this series, it seems appropriate to begin where the mission and the ministry of Jesus got started.
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:13-17
Before there could be any mission and before there could be any ministry, Jesus had to first come. Jesus had to leave His place in heaven for the confines of earth. Jesus had to go through the transformation of the incarnation to begin the work of mission and ministry.
The first of the Then Jesus events starts everything – Then Jesus came… We look at this and often just gloss over it and think it is merely a reference to the fact that Jesus traveled to meet with John. However, something more is happening here. Jesus is setting events in motion that will change the fabric of history. Jesus is bringing monumental change to the spiritual climate of Israel.
Six reasons Jesus came
1. Bring good news
2. Seek and save the lost
3. Pay our spiritual debts
4. Provide a door to life
5. Demonstrate the love of God
6. Bring us into the family of God
Jesus makes us aware of righteousness
Why did Jesus need to be baptized? There was no sin to be cleansed and there was no need for any type of redemption. Jesus tells John that He is being baptized to fulfill the requirements for righteousness. The mission of Jesus begins with righteousness. We view baptism as a sign that a person has turned their life over to the Lordship of Christ.
Righteousness means to be right. The righteousness of God is perfect or complete. There will never be a time when God is wrong. God is always right, always perfectly or completely right. The reason that Jesus is baptized is because it is the right thing to do. Jesus sets the model for righteousness by doing what is right. We are called to a lifestyle of righteousness and living in a manner that is right before God.
Jesus models the right behavior
The purpose of this event is to model the behavior that Jesus wants us to follow. Jesus made the choice to show His followers the way. Jesus begins His public ministry with an example of humility. Jesus reveals that He too was one born under the Law by participating in the baptism.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Our righteousness is like filthy rages compared to God’s righteousness. We cannot ever be right before God without God’s help God takes our feeble attempts at being right and transforms them in His power. God understands that we will never be able to be righteous on our own. We will never be able to live the way we need to alone.
The heart of the mission of Jesus is simple: He came to make us right with God
Jesus gives us opportunity for anointing
When Jesus is baptized the Holy Spirit descends on Him. The anointing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit again is a model of what we personally need. The Holy Spirit came to bring power to the ministry of Jesus. The ministry of Jesus doesn’t truly begin until He anointed by the Holy Spirit. Part of the purpose of the event is to model righteousness for us to follow.
The Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. Often the thinking on this passage is that the Spirit came to Jesus in a gentle manner. The dove reference focused on the manner that the Spirit came upon Jesus. There is an issue with this interpretation. How were doves used in Jewish society?
There were three animals that were acceptable for sacrifices. Bulls were used by those who were wealthy. Lambs were used by the middle class for sacrifices. Doves were used by the poor to offer sacrifices. Doves were the most commonly sacrificed animal because of the poverty level of Israel. The people reading Matthew’s words would have seen a different meaning to the baptism of Jesus. They would have seen the understanding of sacrifice.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit was specifically brought to help prepare Jesus for the ministry of sacrifice. The Spirit would empower Jesus to perform ministry but also to empower Him to be the perfect sacrifice.
What does the Holy Spirit do for us?
Jesus sets a model for us because we desperately need the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus is the only one who can make us right with God and the Holy Spirit is the only one who can help keep us right with God.
Empowerment to accomplish ministry
Ministry is not some mystical thing that only a few people can accomplish. Ministry is simply showing the compassion of Christ to the community around us. Jesus told the disciples that even giving a cup of cool water was worthy of reward. Ministry is not difficult but it takes tenacity to get it accomplished. Ministry is allowing your life to be used by Christ for His Kingdom, whenever and wherever you are.
Ministry that leads to transformed lives flows from the power of the Holy Spirit. Ministry that really matters is not about what we do but who we serve and lives that we touch. We often make ministry about the wrong things. The measure of effective ministry is the number of lives impacted. Our task is not to do the transforming but to share Jesus with others and let Him do the transforming.
Empowerment to accomplish mission
The mission of Jesus is to make people right with God. Jesus came to create a pathway to righteousness through His perfect sacrifice on the cross. Before He could be our perfect sacrifice, He first needed to live a perfect life. The power of the Holy Spirit enabled Jesus to live above the power of sin.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit helps us to live in the power of Christ’s sacrifice. The Spirit guides us in the manner we should live and gives us strength to rise above sin. Without the power of the Holy Spirit we will never be able to live for God. The mission of Christ will transform our lives with His divine purpose. The moment that we make His mission our own, we will find the true purpose in life. We live as a testimony to the resurrection of Jesus and staying in that power.
We are called to continue the mission of Jesus and to carry on the ministry of Jesus. We continue the mission of Jesus by living in righteousness before God and striving to share the good news of Jesus with others. We carry on the ministry of Jesus by reaching out in compassion and reaching out to lost people.
Jesus offers us the chance for adoption
The point of the mission of Jesus came to fulfill and the ministry Jesus came to complete is to bring us into the family of God. The reward of being made righteous is to have an eternal place with God. Jesus gives us the right to become a part of heaven’s citizenship.
12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. John 1:12-13
The Son of God came to make those who would follow Him, children of God. God’s desire is to work in your life and for you to be His child and belong to His house.
Jesus came to make us right with God
Righteousness that flows from God
Empowerment to live out the mission and the ministry of Jesus
Make us children of the Most High