14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
We see what Jesus does here at the very beginning of His ministry. Obviously, we usually start with what is very important. Beginnings are foundational! And we see that importance here. If it was important to Jesus, I believe it should be of great importance to us!
The ministry message is important.
The ministry plan is important.
These ministry aspects remain important across time.
So, let’s look at the ministry message.
- John and Jesus’ Message
People often highlight the differences between the Old and the New Covenant. We are called to enter into the new! But, the message between John (Old) and Jesus (New) is the same!
- The same message
The Old and New Testaments are similar in many ways. They are actually more similar than dissimilar. How could they not be? God does not change. And God’s plans for His creation will never change!
God wants to bless. This is His statement about the creation of man in the beginning. It is the fundamental truth that we must accept as true. Because there is much in life that is not a blessing. Where does that come from? That comes from sin. It comes from Adam’s sin, it comes from my sin and it comes from the sin of my neighbor.
Man is under a curse because of sin.
Jesus will be the resolution for that curse!
Galatians 3: 10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
- The same ministry goal
Get people to encounter the kingdom of God. Kingdom of God is the rule of God in the lives of people. The Jewish expectation is that the kingdom of God is God bringing the Jewish people to supremacy because of the deliverance provided by His chosen anointed one (Messiah) their Savior.
The same words are used, but the definitions are not the same. The kingdom is the rule of God. But how will the rule of God be manifested in the lives of people? How will the rule of God be manifested in your life? Can the rule of God be manifested apart from us keeping the law? (Not the ceremonial or national laws, but the moral laws.) If the law is the way that God wants people to behave, then keeping the law will always be a part of encountering the kingdom of God. Just like obeying parents is a part of being a child in good standing in a family. Or like following instructions at work allows you to continue to be employed.
And the foundational attitude of repentance is what keeps us in humility following the law.
Repentance and faith is the pathway into blessing in our lives! We talked about the example of repentance last week. It’s basically acting in a normally respectful way. Don’t lie, cheat or steal from people. Act in the best interest of everyone involved as best as you can. Treat people as you would like to be treated.
- A different covenant
Jesus has fulfilled the Old Covenant. Hebrews 10 says it well:
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
(Old Covenant description):
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
(New Covenant description):
12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
Permanent forgiveness, a greater personal understanding of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit are the biggest differences in our covenant! Which means that they are remarkably similar!!!
- Jesus’ Ministry Plan for Apostles
- People who will be sent out
The story here is the beginning of the choosing of the twelve, which is completed in Mark 3: 13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
The point is that Jesus is sharing His ministry with others.
- Jesus conveyed special Apostolic authority
It is clearer in other places. And historically it is super important. What is the most significant thing that the Apostles do? They share about Jesus. There is no information about Jesus that comes to us that is not either coming directly from an Apostle or one of their close associates. Mark is a close associate of Peter. Luke is a close associate of Paul. Hebrews is the only NT book that has authorship that is in doubt according to the early church. And even then, many believe that it was written by Paul. (But probably an unnamed associate, like Apollos.)
Matthew 16 Jesus and Peter have this conversation:
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Combine this with Ephesians 2:
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
- Jesus chooses normal people
The New Testament is not written by William Shakespeare. The writers are not that good. Just normal people here.
But normal people, when filled by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) do extraordinary things! Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the LORD.
God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong, the foolish to shame the wise.
III. We Fit in this Ministry Pattern
- Every generation is responsible for the gospel
Who else can be? I do not believe we need Apostolic authority. The Apostles have spoken and we have Scripture. We still have lower case apostles, (ones sent out), prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists. But what about all of the years in the dark ages when the church was so corrupted by bizarre actions? (This is the Mormon argument for their prophet.) God is involved in the process of communicating the gospel. I listened to a man speak this week about people in a different part of the world who are completely immersed in a different religion, but who have Jesus visiting them personally in dreams. And that story is told over and over. Just like Paul on the road to Damascus, that is what he said. God is involved in the process.
What is it that judges and corrects our behavior as individuals? It is the Word of God and the Spirit of God. What is it that corrects the behavior of the church as a whole? It is the Word of God and the Spirit of God. And they are always in agreement!
No one has ever perfectly followed Christ. Luther certainly didn’t. Calvin certainly didn’t. 21st century Evangelicals certainly don’t. But, as we seek to follow the Word of God in the power and illumination of the Holy Spirit we are on the pathway to establishing the kingdom of God! May His kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven! When you love your spouse sacrificially, this happens, when you work as unto the Lord at work, this happens.
I went to the grocery store the other day. A woman was just emptying her cart near where I parked. I asked if I could return it for her. The same trip, I saw a woman pick up bags of candy off of the floor and put them back into the box that they had fallen out of. As I walked by I said, “I see your good deed! Good job!!!” And then I walked off.
- Teach others who can teach others
II Timothy 2: 1You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
- Take responsibility for the gospel
Drop your nets and follow Jesus! We know from the rest of the New Testament that the Apostles did not follow Jesus perfectly. They were a work in progress. Jesus was agitated at them at times. Peter is going to have great highs and lows. The fellow who confesses Christ also denies Christ! We jump into a river of progress!
Demonstrate a life yoked with Christ.
Teach others to follow Jesus
Cultivate an attitude of humility and repentance