Summary: To toe the Jesus’ style of ministry which was all about PRACTICING FIRST BEFORE PREACHING.
THE WINNING FORMULA
ACTION: Display of picture of the Enthroned Jesus
’Jesus is the winner man, the winner man, the winner man…I am on the winning side, on the winning side, on the winning side’… so resonates a melodious praise number (usually sung by the youth), in the Church portals, every now & then.
Normally we His ministers have a call of serving Him in the following areas’ of the spiritual realm (yes there are Socio-spiritual works which are also pleasing unto the Lord but in this message mostly I intend to focus on the Spiritual realm )
a) reaching the unreached (Matthew 28:18-20),
b) strengthening His flock (John 21:15) with the greenest of the green grass -His Word-
c) even while being constantly on the look-out to search & save the back-slidden lot (James 5:19-20),
Whilst going about our God-honoring tasks, have we ever considered by applying what ‘formula’ can we bring a ‘ winning success’ to our Ministry?
Permit me to digress a little, in these the days of Corporate clichés’ where the aim is quite often in finding ‘the winning formula’ (other things remaining constant a team of a competent manager with well-motivated sub-ordinates complementing each other is said to be a winning formula), as it would automatically lend itself to success, is it not also worthwhile to ponder on the ‘winning formula’ Christ adopted in his earthly mission with the results which is all there to see.
First & foremost, He lived a life pleasing unto God, was filled with His Spirit (Luke 4:1), formed a team of His own & led them by the power of His example before passing on the baton to them. His disciples were always there with Him & for Him…till they deserted Him temporarily at the time of crucifixion in fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 13:7– only to re-unite with Him & re-align themselves in line with His vision for this world so much so that they eventually became men who would turn this world topsy-turvy (Acts 17:6) or should we say, this world, which was upside down till then, right side up.
It is pertinent to recall here that no special privileges were conferred upon the Son of God, when he donned the robe of flesh. From birth till baptism, it had been a life of complete submission to His Father’s will, even if it meant suffering (Heb 2:17-18) & eating bread by the sweat of his brow in poverty & obscurity.
ACTION: Picture of Jesus baptism with the words of Heavenly commendation as found in Matt 3:16
Subjection to God’s will would lead to a spirit-filled ministry, as naturally as an exposure to sun would produce the heating effect in any metal. Spirit-filled ministry in turn would impact the people for good, just as the ministry of Jesus’ did bringing thousands of sheep
a) outside (Samaritans for instance… John 4:39-42) &
b) within God’s pen fold - but had strayed astray-
to repentance (e.g.…Zacchaeus the Tax Collector in Luke 19:9-10),
even while having a re-invigorating effect on those who already trusted God (the family of Bethany sisters’ & Lazarus for instance).
In these days when the mantra ‘PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH’ is doled out as the recipe for sure success, look at how Jesus’ approach to His Father’s mission stood in STARK CONTRAST to this. We need to see at both the Messianic prophecy (Malachi 2:6 b) & its recorded fulfillment in Acts 1:1, at how Jesus went about his God-given tasks.
Let’s carefully look at both these verses. If the first one says
‘He WALKED WITH ME, in peace & uprightness & turned many from their lives of sin’, the second one virtually sums it up more succinctly thus…‘In my former book Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do & teach’.
Look even at the sequencing of the words in both the verses. In what order, they have been framed. He walked ‘first’ …in uprightness & then only turned many from sin. Similarly Doctor Luke, ever the stickler to details…puts the word ‘DO’ before the word ‘TEACH’.
Simply put, Jesus did not merely practice what he preached, rather HE PREACHED WHAT HE PRACTICED. Amazing isn’t it? The most significant part of the winning formula of our Lord! Every word he spoke in the revolutionary Sermon on the Mount, He had practiced it before speaking.No wonder, there was so much of conviction & authority in His WORDS that people stood dazed by their power. (Matt 7:29/ Luke4: 32).
In essence, the first component of the winning formula of our Lord was a life of complete obedience to His Father, right from the beginning (Luke 2:51-52) for when do we hear the Heavenly commendation - ‘THIS IS MY SON, WHOM I LOVE; WITH HIM I AM WELL PLEASED’- coming His way soon after his baptism in river Jordan (Matthew 3:17). Is it not ‘BEFORE’ he had performed a single miracle or preached a single sermon?