Today Pastor Choi walks the congregation through Jesus’ teaching ministry. He points out that His teachings are still relevant today in America in the following three aspects. They are full of truth, full of grace, and full of wisdom. He exhorts God’s people to get into God’s Word today to live out Jesus’ teachings in their daily lives.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
Jesus’ Ministry (I): Teaching Matthew 4:23-25
Matthew 4:23-25 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Ministry in Galilee
23 Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
24 The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
Last Sunday, I talked about why Jesus the Messiah came to this earth: to set us free from the bondage of sin and death and to release us from physical and emotional evils. For the next three Sundays, I am going to walk you through Jesus’ public ministry to know what He has done to minister to the people. Today’s reading well sums up His ministry: Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people (Matthew 4:23).
This morning, as part 1 of the series, we will think about Jesus’ teaching ministry.
Jesus was a marvelous teacher. People in His time were truly astonished at His teaching. They noticed that His teaching was far superior to those of the scribes—teachers of the Law, because He taught the lessons with authority (Mark 1:22). In fact, they were so amazed that they debated among themselves saying, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority!” (Mark 1:27).
Of course, it is not difficult to figure out why His teaching was so outstanding:
First, Jesus was from above while the other teachers were from below. He was the Son of God while the scribes/rabbis were mere human beings. When it comes down to God’s Word, He learned firsthand from God the Father while the others didn’t.
Next, Jesus was the Word of God Himself (John 1:1). Therefore, He had no need of external support for His teachings, while the scribes would refer to the rabbinic teachings. E.g. Jesus (the Sun—the source of light) and scribes (the Moon—the reflections).
Thirdly, the clarity, simplicity, and the conviction of truth Jesus brought to the audience were far superior to those of the scribes because the Holy Spirit was working together in His teaching, while the same Spirit was foreign to the scribes.
That was 2000 years ago. His teachings truly helped the people of God in Israel. What about today? The question of relevance arises: Are Jesus’ teachings still relevant in today’s world? In the 21st century in America? My answer to that question is a resounding “YES!!!”
Because His Word is the truth, and the truth never changes. The same truth He taught 2000 years ago in Israel still remains true and relevant in the 21st century in America. His teachings were filled with truth, grace, and wisdom back then, and they are still the same today. Let me elaborate on what I said.
First and foremost, Jesus’ teaching is full of truth. In the Gospel stories, we see many lessons of Jesus. When you really pay attention to them, you cannot but think that He is telling you the truth and nothing but the truth. He is not politically correct. He doesn’t show favoritism to anyone, either. Here’s one example. One day He was speaking to the religious leaders about their hypocrisies. He didn’t mince words. Listen: 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also” (Matthew 23:25-26, NASB).
When it comes to speaking the truth, Jesus is the lion, not a lamb. He also speaks directly to the heart of the listeners, so sometimes it hurts. That’s why the religious leaders hated Him and later killed Him.
I remember reading a story of a preacher and two brothers: “(The two brothers) were rich. They were also wicked. Both lived a wild, unprofitable existence, using their wealth to cover up the dark side of their lives. On the surface, however, few would have guessed it, for these consummated cover-up artists attended the same church almost every Sunday and contributed large sums to various church-related projects. Then the church called a new pastor, a young man who preached the truth with zeal and courage. Before long, attendance had grown so much that the church needed a larger worship center. Being a man of keen insight and strong integrity, this young pastor had also seen through the hypocritical lifestyles of the two brothers. Suddenly one of the brothers dies, and the young pastor was asked to preach his funeral. The day before the funeral, the surviving brother pulled the minister aside and handed him an envelope. “There’s a check in here that is large enough to pay the entire amount you need for the new sanctuary,” he whispered. “All I ask is one favor: Tell the people at the funeral that he was a saint.” The minister gave the brother his word; he would do precisely what was asked. That afternoon he deposited the check into the church account. The next day the young pastor stood before the casket at the funeral service and said with firm conviction, “This man was an ungodly sinner, wicked to the core. He was unfaithful to his wife, hot-tempered with his children, ruthless in his business, and a hypocrite at church…but compared to his brother, he was a saint” (Leadership magazine, Fall 1995).
I pray that God’s Church would follow Jesus’ example of teaching the truth. May the preachers do the same, handling God’s truth accurately without compromise (2 Timothy 2:15). May God’s people welcome the truth of God even though it hurts.
Next, Jesus’ teaching is full of grace. Do you remember His encounter with a woman who was caught in adultery? Listen: “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
Each time I read this account, it gives me goose bumps. No one but Christ can come up with such a graceful truth to a sinner like me.
Thirdly, His teaching is full of wisdom. His lessons are priceless. Listen to this: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Here’s another one:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 ‘No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth’” (Matthew 6:19-24, NASB).
How about this one? “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34).
Oh, I can go on and on. We sure miss such great teachings from a great Teacher. However, God hasn’t left us alone without help. In fact, He has given us two resources to tap into for our life journey: the Great Book and a resident Teacher in us. The Great Book is the Bible where we can find Jesus’ teachings. The resident Teacher in us is the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the sad reality: Few people of God get into God’s Word, because they lack the desire to get into the treasure of Jesus’ teachings. Few are aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in them and even less ask Him for help. Therefore, most of God’s people remain ignorant of Jesus’ teachings and deprived of blessings thereof. The end result? We miss out on the life-transforming teachings of Jesus. We miss out on the abundant life in the Holy Spirit. The worst of all, we may miss out on eternal life if we neglect God’s Word.
Do you know who Satan is? Your enemy. Do you know what his ultimate goal is? To deprive you of eternal life. How does he achieve that? By convincing you that you can live by bread alone without God’s Word. By convincing you that God’s Word is too difficult to understand so that you may not open the Bible. By convincing you that it is the preacher’s job, not yours, to read the Bible. By keeping you from having access to God’s Word. By keeping you ignorant of the salvation knowledge. He would do everything in his power to keep you from God’s truth so that you may miss eternal life. Never ever allow your enemy to do that.
God has given us the Bible and the resident Teacher in us. We have no excuses not to rely on them in our life journey. We have God’s Word right under our nose and God’s Spirit in us. Show me a believer who takes God’s Word seriously, and I will show you a believer who loves Jesus.
Get into God’s Word today. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you Jesus’ way, too. By the way, about 18 months ago, I challenged you to read the entire Bible, from cover to cover and let me know. Then, I would record your name in my book, “The Book Club.” I am still waiting. If you think Jesus was the Great teacher and His teachings are relevant today, you will get on them in the Bible starting today. Beginners, you can start with the Gospel of John, and you will be forever blessed.