STUDY 3 THE MINISTRY OF JESUS
Look up and read the following Scripture passages. They will help you understand what Jesus has done. Think and pray about the passages and note down any thoughts and/or questions you want to share with the Group.
Matthew 4: 12-25 Matthew 5: 17-20 Mark 10: 42-45
Luke 9: 18-27 Luke 22: 24-28 John 13: 1-11
John 14: 1-14
2. The Ministry of Jesus
The Jews expected the Messiah to be a warrior king. Jesus rejected this role. But how did He see His ministry and what did He think that He had come to do? The readings in this section are chosen from His life and work to illustrate the various ways in which Jesus understood what He was doing.
(a) The Preacher
Jesus began where John the Baptist left off. He was a preacher. His message gradually unfolded from the time He began preaching in Galilee (Matt. 4: 23f) until the end of His earthly life on the Cross: though this world is at present in the hands of the power of evil, the rightful kingship of God is to be restored through Him.
(b) The Lawgiver
To those who responded to His proclamation of God’s kingship, Jesus gave a new law which is summarized by Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount is not so much a new law (for almost all of its teaching is found elsewhere in the Old Testament), but the demand that the old law, based on the principles given by Moses, should be looked at in a new way. Those who saw the old law as a line not to be crossed had already crossed it. Jesus taught His disciples to see beyond this and to the guiding principles of Christian love.
(c) The Ruler
Jesus was not only the herald of God’s Kingdom and its lawgiver, but He is also its King. The words put on the top of His cross by Pilate, “The King of the Jews”, intended as mockery, were very true. Jesus, however, avoided for most of His life the title of “Messiah”, preferring to call Himself, the “Son of Man”. This phrase was taken from the Book of Daniel (Daniel 7: 13). In Revelation 1: 13 it describes the representative of God’s people as the great High Priest.
(d) The Servant
Jesus understood His work as the Son of Man in the light of another Old Testament figure, the Suffering Servant described in Isaiah 52:13—53: 12. Jesus and the New Testament writers saw Him as fulfilling in His ministry the role of the servant of God (see Isa.53:3 and Mk.10:33,34; Isa.53:5 and I Pet.2:24,25; Isa.53:9 and Mt.27:57-60; I Pet.2:22).
(e) The Deliverer
Jesus understood His task as God’s servant was that of releasing men from the prison of sin. At His baptism, He identified himself with those whom He had come to save, and on the cross He finally defeated the powers of evil by which they were bound. But in His ministry, seen as a conflict with sin and evil in every form, were anticipation and an illustration of this final victory.
(f) The Revealer of God
In His ministry, Jesus is seen as fulfilling various roles: He is at once the herald, the lawgiver, and the king of the Kingdom of God. He is God’s chosen, whose task is to rescue sinful men from the power of evil. But He is more than God’s agent. He claims to reveal God in such a way that anyone who has seen Him has seen God Himself (see Jn.1:1-3; 5:19-23; 14:6-11).
It often helps us to understand what Scripture is saying by memorising key verses. The following verses are taken from The Good News translation.
1. For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life (John 3: 16).
2. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, Himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
3. We were God’s enemies, but He made us His friends through the death of His Son. Now that we are God’s friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ’s life! (Romans 5: 10).
4. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away, see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5: 17).
1. Washing guests’ feet was a job for a household servant to carry out whenever guests arrived. Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist and washed and dried the disciple’s feet (John 13: 1-7). If even Jesus, God in human form, was willing to serve in this way, then we as His followers must also be willing to serve in any way that glorifies God. There is a special blessing for those who not only agree that humble service is Christ’s way, but for those who also follow it through. Are you willing to follow Christ’s example of serving? Who, and in what way, can you serve today?
2. Jesus told Peter and Andrew to follow Him and become “fishers of men” to help others to find God (Matt. 4: 18-20). We need to fish for souls. How can we practice Christ’s teachings and share the gospel with others so that we are able to draw those around us to Christ, like a fisherman who pulls the fish into his boat in the nets?
3. In John chapter 14 Jesus is not saying that his disciples would do more amazing miracles—after all, raising the dead is about as amazing as you can get. Rather, that the disciples, working with the power of the Holy Spirit, would carry the Gospel of God’s Kingdom out of Palestine and into the whole world. In what ways can we fulfil what Jesus has asked us to do—preaching the Gospel to Freetown, Sierra Leone and then to the rest of the world?
5. Further Reading
If you want to undertake further study on this topic, please look up the following passages:
Isaiah 42: 1-4 Isaiah 52:13–53: 12 Ephesians 1: 15-23