Matthew 4:23-25 (How Do You Do Ministry?)

How Do You Do Ministry?

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 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. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.”

Matthew 4:23-25 (NIV)

Last week we started Matthew by looking at the how the start of the book shapes us to think about Jesus for the rest of the Gospel. Matthew shows us that Jesus is King, Messiah, God, the Lord and God’s beloved son. And this week we read about the start of Jesus’ mission to the world. We see that he goes out into Galilee (an area of northern Israel) preaching, teaching, and healing; setting the stage for Jesus’ great sermon, the Sermon on Mount, which we will spend some time reading through in the coming weeks. But the question I want to ask of us today, is how do we do ministry? Does it follow the small, but clear model we get in these verses on how Jesus did ministry? What does that ministry look like?

In verse 23 we get that Jesus taught, Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and he healed. Let’s break those down a little.

First of all, Jesus taught and proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom. What does this mean? Well I’m sure some of the christians in the club could probably have a good stab at what it means off the top of their head, but Matthew does all the work for us in chapter 4 verse 17, and includes a helpful nuance. In 4:17 he says “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”” What’s the nuance here? Well actually it’s not so nuanced. It’s that Jesus calls the Israelites, the jews he was preaching to, to repent. But why does he do that? Isn’t that really quite offensive and arrogant of Jesus? Why do they need to repent and why is this good news?
Well the Old Testament follows the narrative of the Israelites, God’s chosen people. It’s a narrative of little stories that repeat themselves over and over again; God blesses the Israelites and gives them good gifts, the Israelites rebel against the life that God would have them live in order to set them aside, to identify them as his Holy chosen people, the Israelites are punished, the Israelites repent, God forgives, God blesses, the Israelites rebel etc. etc.. And round and round we go! And this whole time, the Israelites are waiting for their promised King, a Messiah, a saviour, who will come and redeem them because they just couldn’t save themselves; they couldn’t do it on their own. These are the very things Matthew showed to us about Jesus in the passages we read last week.
So when Jesus rocks up on the scene boldly saying ‘Repent’, he is saying; ‘friends, turn away from the brokenness of your people and your sinful desires. Reject the sinfulness of your ways. And instead, look to me, the coming near of the kingdom of God. The gracious, undeserved gift of me, your saviour, here to bring you back in relationship with God and make sense of this fallen and broken world’. This is good news for the Israelites. And when we zoom out of the Israelites context, and think about what these words may be saying to us, nothing really changes. If we are to ‘proclaim the good news of the kingdom’ like Jesus did, we ought to meet people in the brokenness of our world and show them that God has rescued us from this through his son. I don’t know about you, but there are often times I look around and find life hard. I see violence, sickness, injustice, and selfishness. I see this on the world scale, I see this in my family, and I see this in myself. God created a perfect world, but it has since fallen into sin and the bible tells us that Jesus is the only one who can save us from this and make sense of it all. And how does he do this? Because he puts us back into relationship with our Creator, God, who offers us an eternal, perfect life in heaven in the new Heaven and new Earth after this life. Jesus proclaims this good news.

Jesus also performed many miracles and healed the sick. Does that mean we are called to do the same? Is that what ministry looks like for us? Miracles is a whole other question, but this is what we can say for certain. Jesus’ ministry was the beginning of the kingdom being brought to earth. When Jesus left, he left us with the Spirit to aid us in the mission left to us; to preach the gospel to all people. And therefore, part of preaching the gospel and bringing the kingdom is displaying those fruits of the Spirit that Galatians 5:22 talks about.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

So how do the we do ministry at the Flames? As a church soccer club, this is how we can be involved in God’s mission; by preaching God’s grace to a broken world openly, and by displaying the fruits of the Spirit to each other and the teams we play. As we move into the Sermon on the mount, we are going to be looking into some specifics with regards this. In general however, I think we do these things pretty well; I am always proud to play as part of a team that shows so much respect to those that we play. In doing this and being upfront about being a church team, we are displaying God’s love to them.

So the challenges for this week?
Do you think our world is broken and in need of a Saviour?
Do you really make the most of the opportunities to preach gospel into the broken world and display the fruits of the Spirit to other teams, but also, really importantly, to your teammates in the Flames? How could you be more boldly loving your team mates the way Christ loved us?

 

Joe Hockey, club chaplain

first published 12-5-2018