Summary: An analysis of the short summary of Jesus' ministry in Luke 8:1-3 will teach us some key principles for ministry.
Jesus began his public ministry in the northern part of Israel, in the region known as Galilee. Some Bible scholars say that his ministry in this region lasted about 16 months.
The Gospel writers did not record everything about Jesus’ ministry. In fact, Jesus’ ministry was so extensive that the Apostle John wrote at the end of his Gospel in John 21:25, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
And so the Gospel writers carefully selected certain events in order to follow particular themes or to emphasize key aspects of Jesus’ ministry. In today’s verses, Luke gives us a short summary of the ministry of Jesus toward the end of his time in the region of Galilee.
Let’s read about a short summary of the ministry of Jesus in Luke 8:1-3:
1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. (Luke 8:1-3)
He was a big man, six foot four or more, at one time over 300 pounds, wearing size 16–D shoes laced halfway up his calves. He had a big voice. Metropolitan opera people invited him to New York to sing. He had big talents. The world’s largest seminary invited him to teach. Conference centers waited for him to come and direct games and music, as well as teach. The largest religious publishing house in Protestantism hired him as a worldwide consultant.
But Sibley Burnett ignored all that.
He lived by his favorite phrase, “A man is biggest of all when he stoops to help a child.”
So he relinquished his dream to sing opera in New York. He gave up his goal of seminary teaching. He limited his conferences.
He devoted himself to one thing – teaching children and teaching people how to teach children.
To do this, he made another commitment, a commitment to God’s Word. His worn-out Bible has notes he made in the margin of nearly every page.
At his retirement, churches and church groups around the nation honored him with dinners and plaques and praise. But the happiest days of his life came when he stood before a Vacation Bible School full of children, told them how much Jesus loved them, and greeted them as they came to say they wanted to live for Jesus.
Sibley Burnett had a passion for ministry. He learned this from Jesus, who had a similar passion for ministry. Like Burnett, Jesus wanted to reach every person possible with the good news of the gospel of God’s grace.
Luke gave a short summary of Jesus’ ministry in Luke 8:1-3.
An analysis of the short summary of Jesus’ ministry in Luke 8:1-3 will teach us some key principles for ministry.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Places of Jesus’ Ministry (8:1a)
2. The Proclamation of Jesus’ Ministry (8:1b)
3. The People of Jesus’ Ministry (8:1c-3)
I. The Places of Jesus’ Ministry (8:1a)
First, let’s look at the places of Jesus’ ministry.
Luke’s orderly account (1:3) does not always give the exact locations of Jesus’ ministry. For example, in chapter 7, Jesus healed a centurion’s servant in Capernaum (7:1), he raised a widow’s son in Nain (7:11), and he had a meal in Simon the Pharisee’s house in an unnamed location (7:36).
Jesus was fulfilling God’s purpose for his ministry, when he said to the people of Capernaum in Luke 4:43, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
And so Luke stated in Luke 8:1a, “Soon afterward he [i.e., Jesus] went on through cities and villages.” What follows in the rest of chapter 8 and beyond are examples of how Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well. Jesus had an urgency about proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God to everyone.
One of my favorite preachers is George Whitefield. He was born in Gloucester, England in 1714 and died at the young age of 55 in Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1770. Whitefield was ordained to the Gospel Ministry in 1736. He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God in such a powerful way that he was eventually not allowed to preach in the pulpits of the Church of England. That did not deter him, and so he started preaching in the fields and open air. His biographer notes that: