Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday, July 9th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 7-8; Psalm 119:137-144; 1 Corinthians 3
Today's scripture focus is Luke 8:1-3

Luke 8:1-3

English Standard Version (ESV)

Women Accompanying Jesus

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene,from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Scope of Jesus' Ministry

Mark Driscoll ties these 3 verses into the previous portion about Jesus and the sinful woman.  That that woman's story is not just her story.  Jesus loves women.  Women of His day were, for the most part, no better than property.  They had no rights.  But Jesus had women followers, and He loved them. And they were women from every status - the prostitute from yesterday's passage, the demon possessed Mary Magdalene, the wealthy and influential Joanna, and the unknown Susanna.  All these women helped to provide for the disciples out of whatever they had - much or little.  They reacted to Jesus' love for them, and His forgiveness for them, with not only gratefulness, but generosity.  What is our reaction to Christ's forgiveness?  Are we grateful?  Are we generous?  This is our story too.

MacArthur takes this in another direction, which I also found helpful.   He notes that this particular passage is not an incident, an event, a healing, or a sermon.  It's simply a summation of the nature of Jesus' ministry, and about some of the limits that God put on Jesus' ministry.  And, of course, you can't find a better model of Biblical ministry than Jesus Himself, so there are some great things to learn here.

The first point is that Jesus' ministry was not designed to give people what they wanted, or to fulfill an ambition that Jesus wanted, or to cater to a particular group or type of people.  His ministry was always under the complete sovereign control of the Father.  His ministry was always exactly and only what God wanted and designed it to be.  Whatever He did, whatever He said, wherever He went, whom He ministered to, and when He did/said/went - all was determined by God's timetable and design.

A key thing for anybody in any type of ministry to remember is that it's not the breadth of the ministry (how large it is) that determines it's impact so much as the depth of the ministry.
Concentration is the key to multiplication. The way you multiply your ministry, the real ministry, the way you multiply the power of ministry through the truth and changed lives is by concentration on changing lives and teaching people the truth. And the more intensely you teach that to a group of people, the more likely they are to multiply it.

We need to be concerned about the depth of the ministry, and let God determine its breadth.

.a call from a church somewhere is not a call from God, neither is a need a call from God. You better discern in your own heart through prayer and patience what it is that God wants you to do and when He wants you to do it with whom He wants you to do it. And Jesus was committed to that and that is the model for ministry. We serve at the divine discretion, do we not? We are servants of God and we are agents of His purpose.

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages
God limited Jesus' ministry geographically.  He's in Galilee which is not exactly the hub or religious activity - Jerusalem is.  He didn't go there, He stayed in little towns and villages. But every place He went became His pulpit - synagogues, hillsides, valleys, public squares.  Wherever He was, He preached and taught.  Jesus never left Israel.  He concentrated on the depth of His ministry and His influence has swept the world.

proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God
God limited Jesus' ministry theologically.  He had one message, one topic, and that was to preach the kingdom of God, the gospel message, evangelism.
the Kingdom of God is the sphere in which God rules over those who have come to Him for salvation, the sphere of salvation over which God rules as sovereign monarch. And so this was Jesus' message. It wasn't a political message, it wasn't a social message, it was a salvation message. Always a salvation message, always talking about the riches of the Kingdom of God, seeking the Kingdom of God and everything else being added to you, always the Kingdom of God. In fact, when Jesus died and then three days later rose again, after His resurrection it says in Acts 1:3 that He spent 40 days appearing to His disciples and speaking to them of things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Even after the resurrection He was still speaking on the same subject, the sphere of salvation. The whole of the Bible is the story of salvation, isn't it? All the way through human history from Adam to the very end and all the way through redemptive history from election to glorification, the whole Bible is the saga, the story of salvation. Preaching the Kingdom is preaching the good news then that sinners can be saved, they can be delivered out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God's dear Son. They can be delivered out of the domain of Satan into the domain of Christ. This is the message....

So when Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, He was always preaching about salvation. He was inviting people to come into the Kingdom of God. In order to come in they had to repent of their sin and believe the gospel. They had to come to the place where they were committed to loving God with all their souls, as much as is possible. And then they made a commitment to follow and never look back....

 once you find the Kingdom of God, once you find salvation, forgiveness, grace, once you find that, you give up everything to embrace it, you hold on to nothing. You totally abandon everything to receive that. That's what Jesus preached when He preached the Kingdom. He called people to come to the Kingdom of God and coming to repent and believe the gospel, to commit themselves to loving God with all their hearts and embracing Him, assenting to the gospel and embracing it and never looking back and being willing to give up everything valueless to embrace what is priceless. Like Paul, you count all things but dung compared to Christ. That was the ministry of the Kingdom of God, that's the message Jesus preached.

And once in the Kingdom of God, you were to live as a Kingdom citizen. Jesus talked about life in the Kingdom, how Kingdom citizens live and He also talked about the glorious future when the Kingdom of God comes on earth and then even the eternal and final Kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth. But His message was always about the Kingdom, it always came out of the revelation of God about the Kingdom. And that's what our message always has to be as well.

And the twelve were with him,
There were also limits on Jesus' ministry strategically.  He had a strategy.
Jesus concentrated on the place God put Him, the time God put Him there, the message God gave Him and the men God gave Him.
Jesus invested Himself into twelve very ordinary men and through them, turned the world upside down, to the glory of God.

But He didn't have just men with Him.  As we see in v2 and 3, He has women with Him as well.  And as we already know, women were not exactly influential in that day and age. There were no limits on His ministry socially.
So you have a woman who was demon possessed. You have a woman who was from the highest possible state in the land. She is the wife of the man who manages the king's estate. And then you have the non-descript Susanna. All of them believers in Jesus. All of them followers of Jesus. This tells us that the scope of His ministry socially went against the grain of modern convention which says you can only reach a certain type of person in a certain type of ministry and this is this homogeneity concept. Jesus preached the Kingdom and God brought into the Kingdom all that He had chosen to be in the Kingdom from every strata of life...men and women. There were no limitations placed upon His ministry in that regard. In fact, by the time you get here, we've already seen what a role women played in the ministry of Jesus. There's Elizabeth and Mary and Anna and there's Peter's mother-in-law, we've met in Luke, and the widow of Nain and the sinful woman in the seventh chapter. These three then there will be a crippled woman, they'll be a woman later on with a lost coin story in Luke 15, a couple of widows we're going to meet. The Lord reached way beyond the conventional lines in ministering socially across the widest spectrum.

and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
Jesus ministry was funded by those who had been changed by His ministry.  It depended on their generosity.
Now this isn't paying back a debt, I want to make that clear. They had received forgiveness for all their sins from Jesus, they didn't owe Him anything because of that and neither do you. The sinner's debt has been paid. It was canceled by God against you because it was paid by Jesus. Nothing is owed. Your service to God, your ministry, your gratitude, your giving does not repay your debt.
You say, "Why do we do it?" To mirror the same sacrificial loving grace that God mirrored toward us in Christ. To show our love and our gratitude, not to pay off a debt. That debt was paid by Christ. That's why we celebrate His cross where that debt was forever canceled.
In summary, the scope of Jesus' ministry...
sovereignly He did God's will and only God's will; geographically, He went where God put Him, covered it thoroughly; theologically, He preached only God's message, the gospel of the Kingdom; strategically, He knew that reaching many was based upon discipling a few; socially, He went to everybody, men and women, in all walks of life; materially, His ministry was dependent upon the support of the transformed who had been benefitted by it. That is a great model for ministry. And it takes us to where we need to be, at the cross of Christ who paid the debt. We don't serve to somehow pay off that debt, we serve out of gratitude and love to the One who did pay the debt.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 8:4-15
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Chronicles 9-10, Psalm 119: 145-152, 1 Corinthians 4

No comments: