Jesus is Offensive | Matthew 4:12-25 (Mville)

February 2, 2014 Series: The King Has Come | Matthew

Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 4:12–4:25

Jesus is King. Before He was born, his virgin mother was told that her son would reign on the throne of David forever, and His kingdom would have no end. As a newborn, a multitude of angels declares His arrival. As toddler, wise men from the East came to worship the newborn King. The ruling provisional king, Herod, slaughtered children in an effort to destroy the newborn King. For most of his early years, his parents probably hid away in fear, hoping to keep the identity of their son and the story of his miraculous birth a secret. Then, after 30 years of relative obscurity, living in a small town, building furniture with His Dad, Jesus traveled to the Jordan River to be baptized by his camel hair covered cousin named. There His identity is publicly confirmed by the voice of God the Father and the King is officially commissioned.
Up to this point, and for most of his life, Jesus had been hiding, running, or living below the radar. And the beginning of his ministry begins defensively. Immediately after His baptism, He was led into the wilderness to endure a private all-out assault by the prince of darkness. Tempted to avoid suffering, take shortcuts to glory, and compromise God’s Word, the King endures the assault, holds the line, and proves to be the only one worthy and capable to save man. His only defense is the Word of God. I don’t believe that was the only time Jesus was in the wilderness. But we do see that, after the assault, Jesus is ministered in such a way that He walks out and gets down to business. We’re not supposed to stay in wilderness all the time in a state of perpetual defense. It seems like a lot Christians have the reputation of holding a passive disposition toward life and mission—we just wait for it to happen. It’s almost as if we believe the Christian walks amounts to little more than just shielding ourselves from attack after attack. Instead of acting with courage trusting God, we sit cowering in fear of our enemies—sin, Satan, and the world.
Jesus is a King and in the second half of this chapter, we see just what kind of King He is. Our King has come to free His people. Our King has come to rescue them from His enemies. Our King has come to reclaim his throne by conquering sin, Satan, and Death. Jesus says to his disciples in Matthew 16.18 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Satan might be fighting, but Jesus is waging the war. Jesus does not hold anything, he takes everything. General Jesus is on the offensive, with his sword in hand (the Word), launching an all-out assault on the gates of Hell in order to build His church. Our mission is not to hold down the fort until Jesus arrives to take us home. Our mission is to take ground for the Kingdom and establish His rule!
The arrest of John is the signal for King Jesus to launch his attack. John was the divine-scout sent ahead to prepare the way. His imprisonment signals the end of preparations. Jesus is ready to begin the mission God sent him to do. And the first thing our King does after getting out of the wilderness is intentionally GO INTO DARKNESS.
Jesus launches his ministry in a place that no one would have expected. Upon hearing the news of John’s arrest, Jesus leaves Nazareth, and moves into Capernaum, a coastal town on the Sea of Galilee. As much as we talk about large cities and their importance in God's mission, it is noteworthy that Jesus chose to live in, call his first disciples, and begin his ministry in a rural area—a small town. Jesus loves the small, the unimportant, and the seemingly insignificant.
Place in darkness and death
He doesn’t establish the headquarters of his ministry at the geographic epic-center of Judaism. Instead, he establishes it in the most northern city that is densely populated largely pagan. Darkness is where Jesus begins his revolution. Darkness is a place full of fear because you think you are all alone. Darkness is a place of hopelessness because there doesn’t seem to be a way out. Darkness is a place where you get hurt because you can’t see the dangers in front of you. Darkness is a place where bad things appear good and good things often appear bad. Darkness is that place where people can hide their shame and guilt. Darkness is that place where people remain in sin. The regions is also is said to reside “in the shadow of death”. Living in most northern part of Palestine, this region was the one that was always first conquered by invaders. He is not holding the line nor is he avoiding the hard battles. Jesus seeks to save the lost, those on the margins, those who feel defeated, those least likely to believe.
The Light
Jesus enters into their darkness and turns on the light. Last week he used the Word of God as a defense, now he wields the sword and attacks. PREACHING brings the light. Jesus later will later identify himself as the “light of the world”. Jesus does not bring the light, HE IS THE LIGHT. Christianity is not simply a description of godly behavior—it is a declaration of Jesus as King. The light of Jesus’ rule conquers the darkness, awakens the sleeper, gives sight to the blind, exposes sin, and reveals the only hope for salvation from and meaning in this world. And that light of Jesus comes through one thing: the authoritative, uncompromising, persistent preaching of the gospel—who Jesus is, what He has done, what He says, and how we should respond. Preaching is not passé. Preaching is not extra. Preaching is not optional. Preaching is central to salvation. There are more people living in darkness around us than less. They don’t need good rules, good deeds, or good advice—the need good preaching.
From out of the darkness, through preaching, Jesus begins to build His army. Jesus did not just come to preach in the darkness—HE CAME TO MAKE DISCIPLES and CALL MEN OUT OF THE DARKNESS. Who He chooses to be His leaders is both shocking AND comforting. He doesn’t select men of great education, great influence, great wealth, or great pedigree. He chooses simple hard-working ordinary fisherman. He calls two sets of brothers who are likely in business together. Andrew and Peter have their own boat, while James and John work for their Dad. These are not single college-aged guys with too much time and not enough to do. Most of these men are married, have families, homes, and jobs. They are not chosen because they are ordinary men of extraordinary character—their numbskulls. There is a real beauty in seeing Jesus spend three years changing guys who were prideful, selfish, and even prejudice. They were not sympathetic, not humble, not courageous, and not compassionate. (John and James were called Sons of Thunder)! Jesus came to save sinners and only uses saved sinners on mission.
The Call to Follow.
It would take years for them to mature in Christ, but it only took seconds to respond to Him. When Jesus said “Follow Me”, they “dropped their nets” and immediately followed. Jesus request to “follow me” has very different connotations in our culture today. “Following” is what many do with Jesus today—they just watch Him from afar, read his feed, and every now and then retweet what He says occasionally. “Follow me” meant, in rabbinic speech, “become my students, be apprenticed to me, join my school, live with me so you can live like me.” Students lived with their rabbis they did not merely listen their lectures. But usually, students came asking for the privilege of studying with a particular rabbi. Here Jesus recruits others to live with him. No one comes to the Lord by his own initiative. Jesus makes disciples with His Words. When Jesus calls someone, His WORD enlightens the darkened sinner and their only desire becomes joyful obedience—even if that means your dropping everything. Jesus did not come to make fans, friends, or “followers”. Jesus came to make disciples who will do what He says in response to what He has done on the cross. Jesus call is not a call to bow at an altar, it is not a call to invite him into your life, it is not a call to simply be “good”; it is a call to a walk in the newness of life as a continuous action and to surrender your life completely to the Lordship of Jesus. We see with these men, the call of Jesus completely restructures the priorities of our lives and our families.
The Call to Mission
AND the Jesus call to follow is not just an offer of salvation, it is a call to ministry. We are not just given a new identity—we are given a mission. He does not say follow me and I will save your souls. He says follow me and I will empower you to save the souls of others. Our salvation is not just for us. Jesus gives us purpose for our lives, something to accomplish for Him here as his disciples—saving souls—which we know means declaring Jesus as King. Jesus tells these four fishermen that they will now be “catching men”. And because Jesus speaks to fisherman using imagery they can understand, I believe Jesus reveals His plan to use who you are for His mission. Jesus enters into your darkness with His Word. Jesus calls you with His Word. Jesus sends you with His Word.
Jesus is not only entering into darkness and make disciples by HIS WORD, He is restoring the world by that SAME WORD. The King is destroying the deceptive works of Satan using the truth of his Word. In his first epistles, the apostle John wrote, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus is tearing down whatever Satan tries to build and reestablishing His dominion in the world.
We must first understand that world was created as a place of joyful, thriving, harmony under the rule of God. Sin, or rebellion against God’s authority, led to the unraveling of all that is creation. Beginning with the relationship with God, people’s relationship to themselves, with each other, even with other parts of creation disintegrated. The Bible tells us that redemption will not only include the freeing of people from slavery to sin, but the complete healing of all creation and to end all death. In other words, creation started good, was made bad by sin, and will be made good again by King Jesus. The Kingdom of God, then, is the renewal of all creation by the re-entry of God’s ruling power through King Jesus. As people, marriages, families, communities, institutions, and practices come increasingly under the authority of Jesus’ Word they are healed by His Spirit.
Teaching & Preaching
Living under the rule of Christ, as citizens of the King, changes our trajectory immediately and transforms our lives over a lifetime through the preaching and teaching of Jesus. Jesus’ practice was to enter the synagogue. The synagogue was the local Jewish church where they would hold services. The first part consisted of prayers, the second of readings, and the third was an address from a speaker. There was no “professional” pastor so the leader of the synagogue had the authority to allow any distinguished stranger, who asked, to give a message. Before he preached on mountains to crowds, Jesus taught from a pulpit in the synagogue. Jesus would teach them what it meant to obey God, namely, what obedience looked like. But Jesus not only taught, but he preached. By preaching, Jesus proclaimed the good news of God’s coming Kingdom. He would declare the uncompromising certainty of God’s rule, God’s holiness, God’s love, and God’s wrath. Preaching was NOT instruction about how to turn your life around; it was the motivation FOR turning your life around.
Words & Healing
When we speak of healing, we often talk about the healing that comes from a miraculous move of the spirit. Usually this is physical, but what we don’t realize is that we need healing on every level—physically, mentally, socially, and physically. The preaching and teaching of Jesus brings HEALING because God’s Word reveals God’s designs for every relationship. The Word of Jesus Christ restores who I am supposed to be. The preaching and teaching of Jesus brings our lives into alignment with God’s rule—the state in which we were designed to live!
Jesus goes throughout the entire region, not just doing miracles, but setting things right. He heals every disease and affliction he encountered—demon possessed, epileptics, sick, etc. Matthew makes a point to list a number of different maladies in order to make the point that Jesus heals the whole of the human problem. Jesus mission to save is a mission to reverse the effects of sin, Satan, and ultimately, death. The return of the true King, means, that Jesus has begun to put the world right, in every way, with his power. Jesus heals us as we come to believe the gospel more deeply. And as we come to believe the gospel more deeply, we begin to live under his Lordship more fully. and we experience healing more completely. If you are not experiencing healing in your life, then it is because you are not exposing to, engaging with, feasting on, or living according to the Word of God.
Conclusion | Which Kingdom are you living IN
For those are not Christian…yet…the enemy will tempt you to believe that we cannot be free or fulfilled under the authority of anyone. You wrongly believe we know better. You wrongly believe that God is holding out on us. You wrongly believe the Bible is nothing more than dead words that lack power. You wrongly believe that true happiness exists apart from God’s Word. Like our first parents, many will reject God’s rule and seek to be our own Lord, make our own rules, and find our own way apart from Him. Instead of admitting you are living darkness, you will stumble our way through life pretending we aren’t lost. Instead of admitting you need a purpose to our lives you will pour our whole lives into empty causes searching for meaning. Instead of admitting you need healing, you will walk around hiding our pain or medicating it.
Jesus died, not to simply show us how to fight for a better life—but to give us a new one. No one enters the Kingdom of Jesus pretending we’re wise and strong, but admitting that we are lost and weak. Not everyone in the crowd is a disciple. You won’t experience the healing if you’re just standing in the crowd watching other disciples. The people whom Jesus healed were not the ones who stood and watched, but those who searched for Jesus to be close to Jesus.
For those who are Christian…you have a mission. Matthew ends His book with our job: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28.18-20) We are reminded that we have all the authority of the King, and we are empowered to go on the offense with God’s Word. We are commanded to GO into darkness. We are commanded to MAKE DISCIPLES by preaching the WORD. We are commanded to TEACH those disciples everything Jesus said, which will bring healing, including the command to GO. Fulfilling these commands are not just for the salvation of others; it is so that we might experience joy-filled life that comes with living freely under the rule of a King who loves us so much he died for us.