The Scriptorium

The Power of the Kingdom

Some lessons from Jesus' first steps in ministry. Matthew 4.12-25

Matthew 4: First Steps (7)

Pray Psalm 111.1-3.
Praise the LORD!
I will praise the LORD with my whole heart,
In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.
The works of the LORD are great,
Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
His work is honorable and glorious,
And His righteousness endures forever.

Sing joyfully Psalm 111.1-3.
(Manoah: When All Your Mercies, O My God)
Praise the Lord! O let my heart give praise here amid His chosen race!
Your works are great, O Lord, and sought by all who know their grace.

For Your work is full of splendor, Lord, and of majesty most pure;
Your righteousness, O glorious God, forever will endure!

Read aloud and meditate on Matthew 4.1-25.

Prepare.
1. Summarize Jesus’ first steps in ministry, following His temptation by the devil.

2. How would you describe the results of Jesus’ ministry?

Meditate.
Jesus’ first steps in ministry are defining in many ways. We can learn much from verses 12-25 about what our own “works of ministry” (Eph. 4.12) should entail.

First, we note that Jesus began His ministry in a specific place. He had a Personal Mission Field, which God had prepared for Him, where He began His work, and from which His work expanded. Each of us has a Personal Mission Field as well, and Jesus has sent us there as surely as He was sent to earth (Jn. 20.21), and with the same mission – to bring near the Kingdom of God (Matt. 4.17).

Second, Jesus’ ministry involved words and deeds. He wasn’t just a preacher or a teacher. And He didn’t just heal people of their various maladies. He did both. Underlying all He did was the message of the coming Kingdom of God (v. 17), a message which is much bigger than just helping people get saved. Jesus came to restore the goodness and uprightness with which God originally created all things. That meant His work had cosmic and not merely salvific effects: His salvation is for the world, and not just for our soul. What Jesus is sending us to do is of the same order. We are ambassadors of a Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit (Rom. 14.17, 18), and not just of helping people get to heaven.

Third, Jesus quickly began to enlist others in His work. He has commanded us to make disciples as well (Matt. 28.18-20), so we should always be looking for people we can teach, equip, encourage, and send in ministry, just as we have been sent. All believers are called to teach others (Heb. 5.12); this is how the Kingdom expands so that the whole earth becomes the Mission Field of God’s Church.

Fourth, I have no doubt that Jesus expected results – spectacular results. He knew that people would come to Him by the thousands, and they did. What are our expectations for the Kingdom work we take up each day? Are they as hopeful as what Jesus realized? As Matthew will show us, not everyone was thrilled with Jesus’ ministry, and not everyone will be thrilled with ours. But we serve a King Who is making all things new, and we should go forth conquering and to conquer with Him every day, sowing seeds, tending the Lord’s field, and gathering a harvest for Him (Rev. 21.5; Rev. 6.1, 2; Ps. 126).

Finally, we want to make sure that, as we pursue our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God (1 Thess. 2.12), that what we seek is what Jesus realized, the fame of Jesus Christ. We seek no glory for ourselves, but only that people might know and believe and love and follow Jesus.

May our every next step mirror the first steps of Jesus, to the praise of His glorious grace!

Reflect.
1. How do you apply the lessons of Jesus’ first steps to your own calling?

2. How can believers encourage one another to follow Jesus according to His example?

3. Begin praying that God will help you to be more consistent in following in the first steps of Jesus. Have you mapped out your Personal Mission Field?

An earthly king gathers together an army that by its efforts he may attain glory. The Lord gathered together his apostles not that by their efforts he might attain glory but that by his own effort he might win victory for them.
Anonymous (no date), Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 8

Help me to follow in Your footsteps today, Lord, as I…

Pray Psalm 111.4-10.
Pray that God will so work in you that you will follow Jesus every step of every day of your life.

Sing Psalm 111.4-10.
Psalm 111.4-10 (Manoah: When All Your Mercies, O My God)
You have caused Your many wondrous works to remain before our face.
For You are full of mercy, Lord, and abounding all in grace.

For all who fear You, You provide; Your covenant endures.
Your pow’r You show Your people, Lord, and make the nations theirs.

The works of Your all-sovereign hands are faithful, Lord, and just.
Your precepts ever more are true and worthy of our trust.

You have sent redemption, to us, Lord, in Christ of cov’nant fame,
and we in wonder, grace, and awe adore Your holy Name.

All they who would true wisdom know must learn to fear You, Lord,
And in that wisdom daily live and praise You evermore.

T. M. Moore

Worship the Lord!
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What really happened in the wilderness? What did Jesus accomplish? Our book
Satan Bound: A Theology of Evil, can help you to understand more completely the magnitude and importance of Matthew 4.1-11. Order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore