The Road to the Resurrection: Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Topic: Resurrection Passage: Matthew 4:23–4:25
The Road to the Resurrection
Grace Community Church
April 7, 2019
The Road to the Resurrection: Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Let’s turn together to Matthew 4. Beginnings are an important part of life. You know, that moment when you’re starting a new job, stepping into a new season of life, moving to a new location, whatever it might be. Everything is new and unfamiliar, you’re getting to know new people and new circumstances, they’re getting to know you. It can be hard. It can be uncomfortable. It can feel awkward. I still remember the first Sunday back in 1991 in a church called Lamb’s Chapel when the previous pastor, John Steigerwald had left for Georgia and I stepped into the pulpit to preach my first sermon as senior pastor. It was weird. It felt uncomfortable and awkward. I felt like I was impersonating a pastor. There were about 40 people in that room and as I spoke a sense of awe and wonder filled the room. The message was awful and a lot of us wondered if Lamb’s Chapel would survive. Beginnings can be difficult and awkward but they are an important part of the journey. Every destination need to have a beginning.
I want us to take a trip together as we prepare for Easter. Let’s walk with Jesus down the road that would eventually lead to the resurrection. As we walk this road, we’ll meditate on his majesty, his passion week, his death, and his glorious resurrection. But this morning let’s begin at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. The road to the resurrection actually stretches back into the corridors of eternity past when God the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, determined in their loving omniscience and foreknowledge that Jesus would die to save a mankind that hadn’t even been created yet. The Bible says the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world.
Then at just the right time Jesus was born of a virgin and for a short time there was awe and wonder over what God had done…and then silence. For 30 years Jesus grew up and worked quietly and blended in with the crowd. Until once again the time was just right and Jesus stepped forward to be baptized by John the Baptist. Immediately after that he was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil. He successfully resisted every temptation and came back from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit. So the road to the resurrection began in eternity past, but this morning we’re going to take the on ramp where Jesus’ public ministry began, as recorded in Matt. 4:23-25.
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. Matt. 4:23-25
As we look at Jesus’ life and ministry, my prayer is we don’t just learn information about Jesus, we get to know him better– who he is, what he’s like, and as we know him better, we grow to love him more. And as we know and love Jesus more, we will love God the Father more because when we know and love Jesus, we know and love the Father.
Let’s look at three good things that marked Jesus’ life and ministry from the very beginning:
- Jesus proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom (vs. 23)
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom…
Jesus’ message from the very beginning was the good news of the kingdom. Not just good news, kingdom. Not just kingdom, good news! From the very beginning and throughout his ministry Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God had drawn near to man, and was among us, in the Person of Jesus. This world, long held under the thumb of sin and Satan, was being invaded by a far more powerful kingdom, the kingdom of God. And that was good news! Not ok news. Not blah news. Good news to anyone and everyone who hears and believes it!
In his book God is the Gospel John Piper pictures a German POW camp during WWII with American soldiers behind the barbed wire. The soldiers are thin and unshaved, their eyes sunken and hollow from hunger. A few soldiers die every day. The conditions of their captivity is horrendous.
One day someone smuggles a shortwave radio into the prison, and a few weeks later the German captors see a strange sight. The prisoners are smiling, light-hearted, even laughing. A few let out a whoop and throw their tin plates in the air. Nothing has changed in their situation and yet it feels like everything’s changed because they have heard good news. Allied forces have broken through enemy lines and are just a few miles away from the camp. That good news changes everything because it gives them hope.
That’s a picture of us. We live in a world of bad news. No one is born free, we are all born slaves to sin. Our bodies are a ticking time bomb that will eventually give way to sickness and death. Worst of all, the Bible says the whole world lies under the power of the evil one, the devil. One of the temptations Satan offered Jesus was to give him all the kingdoms of the world if he would bow and worship him. The kingdoms of the world belong to Satan. We in a world full of bad news.
But then Jesus came with the good news of a different kingdom, the kingdom of heaven! But Jesus didn’t just come to tell us about his glorious kingdom. Telling us about a glorious kingdom that was barred to us, a kingdom we could never enter, wouldn’t be good news, it would be terrible news. The good news of the kingdom is that Jesus came to make a way for us to enter his glorious kingdom. Jesus is both the king of heaven and the door into heaven for all who will believe in him. And as he went from town to town, village to village, he went to liars and cheats and drunkards and women who sold their bodies for money and adulterers and sinners of all shapes and sizes – people who were used to being outcasts and rejects to the religious leaders – but here’s this Jesus telling them that the kingdom of God was drawing near to them, not to condemn them but to welcome them. Jesus blew their minds when he told them that God the Father loved them and it gave Him pleasure to give them the kingdom. Large crowds followed him everywhere he went and people began to hope again. Jesus’ message was and is good news – the best news!
This is a good place to pause to remind those of us who have experienced that good news for ourselves that while Jesus isn’t physically walking the earth anymore, he has left you and me as his short-wave radios to broadcast that good news to a world that still desperately needs to hear it. Let’s make sure the message we’re broadcasting is good news, not bad news. Let’s make sure when people tune in to our lives what they hear is good news – good news of Jesus’ love and mercy, good news of God’s amazing grace, good news of a better way to live as a follower of Jesus. When I think of good news, I think of news that is positive and uplifting and when accepted, fills hearts with joy! That’s the message people heard from Jesus. It’s the message people should hear from us. The good news of the kingdom!
- Jesus performed the good works of the Kingdom
Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and then he performed the good works of the kingdom.
..healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Matt 4:23-24
In this we see the power of God’s kingdom reversing the curse of sin and the devil and I really love what this passage and others like it says about Jesus. Over and over again Jesus’ heart was moved with compassion for the sick and the suffering and he healed them. I love what it says about the Father. Jesus said, “anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father”. When Jesus’ heart was moved with compassion for the man with the withered hand, the Father’s heart was also moved with compassion. When Jesus set the demon possessed person free from Satan’s bondage, the Father was cheering him right along. When the man with leprosy, who never thought he’d feel the touch of another human being, felt Jesus touch and heal him, he felt the Father touch him too.
When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, sickness and death entered the world too. Sickness and death weren’t part of God’s original creation, these things entered when man listened to Satan rather than God. The kingdom of darkness has no compassion, none at all. It is ruled by the opposite of compassion: cruelty. In 1939 Hitler authorized something called the T-4 program. The T-4 program was the systematic elimination of the physically or mentally handicapped. Anyone who didn’t measure up to the Nazi’s concept of the master race was viewed as a threat to Aryan genetic purity, useless, and unworthy of life. Hundreds of thousands of incurably ill and disabled patients, including infants and children were left to starve to death or killed by injection. None were shown compassion, compassion wasn’t part of their policy. It was a policy straight from hell: the weak, sick, and disabled are to be despised and disposed of.
The opposite is true in Jesus’ kingdom. The weak, sick, chronically ill, and disabled are to be valued and protected and cared for because the King of heaven is compassionate. Many times the gospels tell us that Jesus was ““moved with compassion.” Literally it means his organs shifted within him, so moved was he by other people’s suffering. He wept when Lazarus died. He felt the searing pain of the widow who lost her only son. His heart shifted at the sight of a father whose son was being tormented by a demon.
What is Jesus like? What is the Father like? Compassionate. Psalm 116:5 says that God is full of compassion. Let me tell you, if the infinite God is full of compassion, that’s a lot of compassion!
This is really good news for us because it doesn’t matter how healthy we may be today, we are all ticking time bombs waiting to go off. Some people live life fairly free of illness, other people suffer chronic illnesses all their lives. Some are born with severe disabilities, others are victims of serious accidents, others seem to go unscathed for much of their life. But eventually the ticking time bomb will go off for every one of us. And it’s not just us, at some point we will all experience the greater pain of watching a loved one, a parent, a spouse, a child, a friend, suffer or die. It’s inevitable. But we don’t have to go through it alone. Our heavenly Father has compassion for us. Our Savior Jesus has compassion for us. We can ask him for healing and trust him for strength and comfort.
And Jesus promises for all who trust in him as their Savior, that one day we will enter a kingdom with no sin, sickness and death. The blind will see, the lame will walk, the mentally disabled will have full mental capacity, the weak will be strong, the sick will be healthy. The dead will rise up in newness of life with bodies that cannot die, or be hurt, or get sick, or get tired. And the pain of what we endured in this life, well, the Bible says that God Himself will wipe away every tear. Jesus gave us a glimpse of that day when he went from town to town performing the good works of the kingdom.
- Jesus lived a good life
The third good thing that marked Jesus’ life from the very beginning is not clearly seen in our passage this morning, but it’s there. It’s there in every single moment and second of Jesus’ life. It’s this: Jesus lived a good life.
That may seem like an anticlimactic statement – ok, so Jesus lived a good life, big deal. But actually it’s an incredibly big deal. See, we use that phrase way too casually. We see someone having a good time or living in a way that is enviable and we say they’re living the good life. That’s not what I mean.
Or we say that so and so is a good person. And don’t get me wrong, I say it too. We know what we mean. But in all of human history, only Jesus lived a good life by God’s standards. When a young man came to Jesus asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, he began by saying, “good teacher”. Jesus stopped him by saying, “why do you call me good? God alone is good.” We aren’t good, we are sinners. Our motives are virtually never pure. Even our best efforts are shot through with sinful self-interest. The prophet Jeremiah says our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately sick. That’s why we could never earn our way into the kingdom by our goodness or merit.
From the moment he was born, Jesus lived every moment of his life in total goodness. He obeyed his Father perfectly in every word, and deed, and thought, and motive. There wasn’t even one molecule of impurity in a million. When Satan tempted Jesus, he refused every suggestion he disobey his God. Satan would try to get Jesus to trip up in even the smallest way over and over again in Jesus’ life. But at the end of his earthly ministry Jesus could tell his disciples, …the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me (or no hold on me NIV), 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. John 14:30-31
Satan had no claim, no hold on Jesus. The Father looked at his life from beginning to end and was well-pleased. This is so necessary to the road to the resurrection cause Jesus couldn’t have just dropped into the world at age 33 and gone right to the cross. He needed to live our life yet without sin so that he would be qualified to die for our sins, having no sin of his own to pay for. And he needed a life of merit in order to fill our accounts with his merit, his righteousness.
Believing in Jesus is the great exchange: we exchange our sin for his goodness. God looks at us and sees the righteousness of Christ in us. The road to the resurrection is an eternally long road. It climaxed on that Sunday morning two thousand years ago when Jesus rose from the dead, but that road didn’t begin there. It began in eternity past, ran through Jesus’ perfectly good life, to the cross, to the grave, to the ascension, and the road stretches on endlessly before us as we live in the good news of the kingdom and goodness of our Savior.(If you’ve never accepted Jesus…)