Monday, October 22, 2018

4 Pillars of Christian Ministry

“All the people were amazed and said to each other, “’What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!’” - Luke 4:24

After leaving his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus never established a new home address. That’s why Jesus would later say that he “has no place to lay his head.” But Capernaum—the hometown of Peter, Andrew, James and John—was where Jesus spent more time than anywhere else. After speaking at a synagogue in Nazareth and nearly getting pushed off a cliff, he went to Capernaum, where he again spoke at a synagogue on the Sabbath. This time, he got a much warmer reception, and the results of his ministry were nothing short of amazing.

During this visit to Capernaum, Jesus modeled what we could call “The Four Pillars of Christian Ministry”: 1) Teach truth; 2) Confront evil; 3) Show compassion; and 4) Spend time alone with God. I’d like to take a quick look at each of these, starting with Jesus’ visit to the synagogue.

1) Teach truth. When Jesus was given the opportunity of teach God’s word, he taught. And in Luke 4:32, we see that “They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.” What does that mean? It means that Jesus didn’t teach the way all the other rabbis taught. When other rabbis gave an exposition on a passage of scripture, they would quote another rabbi, then give the opinion of other rabbis who disagreed with him. In other words, the rabbis leaned on other rabbis’ authority when teaching a passage of scripture. They couldn’t lean on their own authority, because they didn’t have much. Even the great prophets of the Old Testament wouldn’t lean on their own authority; they would routinely say, “Thus saith the Lord” when sharing a truth of scripture.

But Jesus was different. He didn’t quote Rabbi So-and-So. He didn’t say, “Thus saith the Lord.” Jesus would just say it as if it was God saying it. And that fact blew the sandals off those who were listening as Jesus taught in the Capernaum synagogue.

2) Confront evil. In verse 33, while Jesus was still in the synagogue, he encountered a man who was “possessed by a demon, an evil spirit.” This demon called out the Son of God in plain view of the people Jesus had been winning over: “Hah! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (verse 34). The demon knew full well that he was no match for Jesus in a head-to-head matchup. But he must have figured that if he was loud enough and gutsy enough to call Jesus out by name, Jesus would back down. But instead, Jesus told him sternly, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” And with that, the demon threw the man down and came out without injuring him (verse 35).

When the demon threw the man down on the floor of the temple, the onlookers must have thought that the demon had seriously injured him. But Jesus wasn’t about to let that happen. Jesus made sure that the man was not harmed by the demon. As theologian Matthew Henry wrote: “Whom Satan cannot destroy, he will do all that he can to; but … he can harm them no further than Christ permits; nay, he shall not do them any real harm.” You see, everything that God allows to come our way has to pass through the filter of His love for us. Therefore, whenever Satan harms us, it’s not “real” harm. It’s really only temporary and brings a blessing at the end of it.

3) Show compassion. In Luke 38-40, Jesus went to the home of Peter’s mother-in-law and destroyed the miserable fever that caused her to suffer. Then, one by one, people brought their miserably sick relatives and friends to Jesus, and Jesus healed every one of them. As William Barclay points out in his commentary, “Always Jesus was ready to help; his followers must be the same. Jesus did not need a crowd to work a miracle. Many a man will put out an effort in a crowd that he will not make among his own private circle.” But not Jesus. Whether he was in the synagogue, in a crowd, or behind closed doors in Peter’s home, he was the same compassionate Jesus.

Remember, it’s not just so-called “faith healers” who do their best work when the spotlights are on and the cameras are rolling. You and I so often can let down our guard when we’re at home behind closed doors. You and I should be the same compassionate Christians at home as we are at church, at school and at work.

4) Spend time alone with God. Luke tells us in verse 43, “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place.” Mark records this as well, but Mark clarifies the purpose of Jesus going off by himself: He did it to pray. When we focus on Jesus’ powerful ministry, we tend to gravitate to his miracles, signs and wonders. He opened the eyes of the blind and cleansed the lepers and raised the dead and calmed the storm and walked on water. We love these parts of Jesus’ ministry … and well we should. The miracles were certainly a pillar of Jesus’ ministries. But so was Jesus’ prayer life—the hours and hours that Jesus spent alone in prayer with the father. They were vital to his life and ministry. And they will be vital to yours as well.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit and join us for church tomorrow at 10 a.m.

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