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A MINISTRY EVALUATED

By Dale D. Meredith
March 4, 2018
University Baptist Church
790 Dodge Road
Getzville, NY 14068

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Good News Bible, The Bible in Today’s English Version, copyright ©1976 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.

After His baptism and temptation:
14 Then Jesus returned to Galilee, and the power of the Holy Spirit was with him. The news about him spread throughout all that territory. 15 He taught in the synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 Then Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath he went as usual to the synagogue. He stood up to read the Scriptures 17 and was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written,

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed 19 and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people."

20 Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. All the people in the synagogue had their eyes fixed on him, 21 as he said to them, "This passage of scripture has come true today, as you heard it being read." (Luke 4:14-21)

A MINISTRY BEGUN

After He had been baptized and had resisted temptation Jesus returned to the area of Galilee where He had been brought up. He began to teach in the synagogues. The people had no TV, no radio, no smart phone, not even a line phone on the wall with a crank. However, word quickly spread about this young man who was so open, honest, and able to explain the Scriptures. The people all over the area heard about him. Jesus settled on the objectives or work items for His life. Then, He went to His home town of Nazareth. The people of Nazareth would have known He was in town and that He always attended Sabbath services. There was a good crowd that day to hear Him speak.

He stood up to read and president of the Synagogue handed Jesus a scroll containing part of the book of Isaiah. The book of Isaiah was so long that it took three scrolls to contain the entire writing. There were no markings to indicate chapters and verses. It would be more than 1,500 years before the chapter and verse markings we know were added to the Scriptures. Thus, Jesus had to look carefully to find the verses He wanted to read.

Jesus found the verses He was looking for, and, then, He read:

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed 19 and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people." (Luke 4:18-19)

Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back, and sat down. Luke 4:18-19 is Isaiah 61:1-2 from the Greek translation used by many in Israel at the time of Jesus. Jesus was committed to do God’s will as written about Him in the Scriptures (Hebrews 10:6, 9).

Jesus read these verses as His job description. This was a job description for the Messiah. How well He did those things would determine how well He did God’s will. He then said that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him and that He had been chosen to do the ministry described in those verses. Jesus left Nazareth to continue this ministry.

A QUESTION FROM JOHN THE BAPTIST

John preached that, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:9). He called for radical change in the life of those he baptized (Luke 3:9, 11-14). Those who had two shirts should give one to the person who had none. Whoever had food should share it. Tax collectors should be fair in their collections. Soldiers should not forcibly or falsely take anything from others. They were to be content with their wages. 

John must have been excited when he heard that Jesus had driven the moneychangers, and sellers of oxen, sheep, and doves from the Temple (John 2:13-16). He expected Jesus to be the Messiah and would liberate the Jews from Rome and the corruption of the priests at the Temple. He expected Jesus to establish God’s kingdom on earth.

John was emboldened and preached against Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, because he had taken the wife of his brother Philip and done other evil things. Herod then arrested John and put him in prison.

While in prison, John would hear about all that Jesus was doing. His disciples would visit him and tell him (Luke 7:18). He had heard about the incidence at the Temple. He was in prison. He was impatient with his time in prison and the speed of the coming judgment. He couldn’t understand why the Messiah he expected was being rejected by the people in Nazareth (Luke 4:28-29) and by the religious leaders (Luke 6:11). 

Therefore, about a year and half after he had baptized Jesus, John sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus (Luke 7:19), “Are you the one John said was going to come, or should we expect someone else?”  The question was subtlety, “Are you doing what God expects you to do?” It was time to evaluate how well Jesus was fulfilling His job description.

A REPLY FROM JESUS

Between the time Jesus was baptized and the time John’s disciples arrived Jesus had:

turned water to wine at wedding in Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-11)
performed miracles in Jerusalem during Passover festival (John 2:23)
major evangelism success at Sychar beginning with woman at well, 
        many Samaritans believed (John 4:39-42)
healed son of royal official from Capernaum (John 4:46-54)
healed man with spirit of evil demon (Luke 4:33-35)
healed Peter’s mother-in-law of high fever (Luke 4:38-39)
healed many of various diseases (Luke 4:40-41)
healed man with leprosy (Luke 5:12-13)
healed paralyzed man carried by friends (Luke 5:17-26)
healed lame man at pool of Bethzatha on Sabbath (John 5:1-9)
healed man with withered hand on Sabbath in synagogue (Luke 6:6-11)
Sermon on Mount
    healed many with diseases and those troubled by unclean spirits (Luke 6:17-19)
    blessings (Matthew 5:2-12): for those poor in spirit, mourn, gentle, hunger and 
        thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers,
healed centurion’s slave, who was sick and about to die, without being near slave     (Luke 7:1-10)
raised a widow’s son from death (Luke 7:11-17)

John’s disciples arrived and asked (Luke 7:20), “John the Baptist sent us to ask if you are the one he said was going to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Luke 7:21 says, “At that very time Jesus healed many people from their sicknesses, diseases, and evil spirits, and gave sight to many blind people.” Jesus answered the John’s disciples (Luke 7:22-23), “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind can see, the lame can walk, those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases are made clean, the deaf can hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor. 23 How happy are those who have no doubts about me!”  Jesus left John to make up his own mind based on what he knew and what the messengers would tell him.

Jesus had filled in the second part of what we would call His evaluation form. He had come to do God’s will. He had previously listed the items he would accomplish to do God’s will (Luke 4:18-19): 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed 19 and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people." We can list them as:

 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me 
1.to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me 
2.to proclaim liberty to the captives and 
3.recovery of sight to the blind, 
4.to set free the oppressed and 
5.announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people."

He now summarized the things He had done and was doing to do God’s will (Luke 7:22): “the blind can see, the lame can walk, those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases are made clean, the deaf can hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor.” These can be listed as:

1.“the blind can see, 
2.the lame can walk, 
3.those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases are made clean, 
4.the deaf can hear, 
5.the dead are raised to life, and 
6.the Good News is preached to the poor.

Jesus didn’t list everything He had done. There wouldn’t be room on the evaluation form for all of them. He summarized His accomplishments. Having completed and evaluated many personnel forms, I would say that at about the half-way point in His ministry Jesus had done and was doing what He had listed as His steps to complete His goal of doing God’s will. He still had some things to do. It was on the cross He would say, “It is finished!

AN EXAMPLE FOR US

From His birth in the stable to His death on the cross He lived as an example for us. The overview of the first half of His ministry indicates how we should live. Let me list some of the ways we should follow His example.

First, He personally knew God. At His baptism He said He wanted to do all God required (Matthew 3:15) and after His baptism the voice from heaven said (Matthew 3:17), “This is my own dear Son.” He knew God as His Father. We, too, should know God as our Father. John 1:12 says, “Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become God’s children.” When we receive Jesus as our Savior we become God’s children.

Second, He committed to do God's will (Matthew 3:17).  He stated that He wanted to do all God required.  After we believe in Jesus as our Savior we too should commit to do everything God wants us to do.

Third, He read the scriptures. He memorized the scriptures. He prayed. He determined what God wanted Him to do and He could state what He thought God wanted Him to do. We, also, should read the scriptures, memorize scriptures, pray, and determine what God wants us to do. We should determine this to the level that we can make a definite statement about what we are to do.  

Jesus included in the list some items that He could not do by Himself. He mentioned the Holy Spirit helping Him to know what He was to do. He implied that the Holy Spirit would help Him complete the tasks. We too should let the Holy Spirit help us in determining God’s will for us. We also can expect the Holy Spirit will help us accomplish the things we do for God.

Fourth, Jesus begin immediately after His baptism to do those things that God wanted done. We should begin to do what God wants us to do as soon as we decide to accept Jesus as Savior. We may not have our complete list of what to do, but we can change the list to include more things as we mature. We can do more that we think we can, because the Holy Spirit will help us.

Fifth, Jesus continued to work consistently doing what God wanted Him to do. He didn’t wait a long time before He got around to obeying God. He didn’t attempt something big and the quit. He didn’t get discouraged and quit when some rejected Him and His ministry. He consistently continued to do the things to perform God’s will for his life. We should work consistently, not get discouraged, not quit, just keep doing what God wants us to do.

Sixth, He chose close friends who would help and encourage Him. His friends were not as strong as He was. However, they too wanted to do God’s will. One friend eventually betrayed Him. We can’t expect all of our friends to be always supportive, but friends can definitely influence our ability to do God’s will. We should choose close friends carefully. After spending time with them, Jesus prayed all night before choosing His closest friends. (Luke 6:12-13).

Seventh, Jesus did what God wanted even if it wasn’t what others expected Him to do. The Devil tempted Him to do things his way. Some tried to make Him an earthly king (John 6:15). Some wanted someone to provide daily food (John 6:26). But Jesus just kept doing what God wanted. We should not be diverted from following God to meet the expectations of others.

We should commit to following God. We want to complete our assignments so that our evaluation form will be completed and we will be ready at the judgment and hear God say (Matthew 25:21), “Well done, you good and faithful servant!