Feb 7, 2020 · Courtney Jacob
Have you ever recalled a sermon you heard or remembered a quote you read while listening to someone talk? Maybe it felt perfect for their situation and you wanted to share it, but couldn’t quite remember the wording or felt you just couldn’t do it justice.
The reality is, we aren’t all trained preachers, missionaries, or evangelists and sharing our faith can be intimidating. Yet, each of us has the opportunity to participate in Jesus Christ’s ministry in our daily activities, in our jobs, and in our relationships. Studying Jesus’ earthly ministry can give us the confidence we need to speak and act, even when we’re unsure of ourselves. In our Groundwork series, “Jesus’ Ministry,” we’ll examine four aspects of Jesus’ ministry listed in Matthew 4:23-24—teaching, preaching, casting out demons, and healing. We’ll gain a better understanding of his purpose, we’ll study examples from all four gospels to learn about the style and content of his ministry, and together we’ll discuss what his ministry means for our own faith, discipleship, and ministry.
What is Ministry?
In a 2012 article titled “What is ‘ministry’?,” author and professor, Scot McKnight wrote, “Ministry. . .is not the pragmatics or the activity we do but instead participation in what God is doing to reconcile the world to himself — through Christ in the Spirit.”
I wonder if this is how most of us today understand ministry. I have a feeling most of us think doing ministry involves a lot of training, skill, and maybe a degree, whereas McKnight argues that it’s less about what we do (“the pragmatics or the activity”) and more simply about participating in what God is already doing. I imagine we could feel much of the pressure we feel about saying the right words and doing the right things evaporate if we shifted our perspective to participating in ministry instead of doing ministry.
What Ministry Work is God Doing?
If we want to find where God is at work today, we can start by familiarizing ourselves with how Jesus ministered while he was on earth. His earthly ministry was prolific in word and deed. Matthew 4:23-24 says “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.” In this concise summary, Matthew describes four aspects to Jesus’ ministry—teaching, preaching, casting out demons, and healing. But what we discover as we study examples of each of these acts in the Gospels is that Jesus’ purpose was consistent, everything he said and did pointed his followers to the kingdom of God.
Once we have a firm grasp of the heart, soul, and purpose of Jesus’ ministry, we have the ability to tune in and recognize where he’s working today. Additionally, it reorients our perspective, reminding us too, to focus on his kingdom and not on our work. His style and content give us a framework to begin understanding our own calling to participate in sharing the gospel message, trusting that the Holy Spirit will take hold of our meager words and deeds to bring glory to God and expand his kingdom.
Learn from Jesus
Whether you’re a new Christian or you’ve been following Jesus your whole life, whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, full-time employee, or engaged in formal ministry, you will encounter moments in life when you will have the privilege of partnering with God to share the good news of Jesus Christ. I invite you to fix your heart and mind on God’s kingdom through our Groundwork series, “Jesus’ Ministry”:
- Jesus Taught - Mark 1:21-28, Matthew 5, Matthew 7:24-28
- Jesus Preached - Matthew 4:12, 17, Luke 4:16-30
- Jesus Cast Out Demons - Matthew 12:22-29, Matthew 8:28-34
- Jesus Healed - Matthew 8:1-3, Isaiah 35, John 9
...and together we’ll grow in faith and discipleship by following his lead.