Faithlife Sermons

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Have you ever played chess?
There are two kinds of players in the game of chess.
There are those who think through what they are doing as they play.
They think forward many moves, trying to anticipate their opponents reactions and plan accordingly.
They are very strategic and intentional in their play.
Then there are those who can only think one move at a time or do not think at all and simply move their pieces randomly.
They have no strategy and simply operate in a haphazard way.
In a match between these two kinds of players, who will win?
The strategic one of course.
Now, it’s possible the random moves individual could get lucky, but more often than not, the person with some sort of strategy will win.
One of the things that you will see a good chess player do is to sacrifice pieces in order to gain a more favorable position.
From the outside it appears that the player is making a very foolish mistake, but in reality he has positioned himself for the win.
He knows that the goal is to win the game, not save every piece.
When we consider Jesus’ approach to carrying out his mission, do you think he is more like the random chess player or the strategic one?
Jesus is VERY intentional in how he carries out his mission.
Nothing he does is random.
And what is truly interesting is that Jesus makes moves that from the outside appear to be very foolish.
In fact, at the heart of his plan is complete foolishness, from a worldly perspective.
But, it will work.
Jesus will accomplish his purposes.
So what is his strategy?
We are going to look at Matthew’s gospel today to try to answer that question.
At this point in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus has been teaching the people and performing miracles.
Most recently he has been roaming Galilee.
Our passage today occurs right before Jesus appoints the twelve disciples and sends them out for ministry.
His earthly work was not meant to be a solo job.
He planned on recruiting help.
Jesus’ Ministry Model
Matthew 9.25
Jesus’ earthly ministry consisted of 3 main parts: teaching, preaching, and healing.
The text says that Jesus would teach in their synagogues.
He would go to a village or a city and then teach God’s word on the Sabbath.
The main audience for his teaching was religious people, obviously since that was who went to synagogue.
Jesus’ teaching was instruction on right living and action in God’s kingdom.
He would explain the Scriptures with power and authority.
The local church today is called to share in that same teaching ministry.
This is what I am doing right now.
I am explaining God’s word and applying it to our lives.
The church teaches on Sundays and in Bible Studies and to kids and in small groups and one to one because Jesus calls us to a ministry of instruction: explaining and apply the Word of God.
Good teaching doesn’t simply tickle our curiosity.
Good teaching demands action.
In order to remain faithful as a church we must devote ourselves to the unpacking of God’s word for each other.
Not only did Jesus teach.
He preached.
Specifically he preached or proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom.
Preaching is different from teaching in that preaching is the announcement or declaration of the good news that the Kingdom of God was at hand in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus would simply declare that God was delivering his people.
We share in the proclamation of the gospel today.
As the church we too are called to declare what God has done for us in Christ by sending his Son to die on the cross for our sins and be raised from the dead.
Another word for this act is evangelism.
The word evangelism comes from the Greek word euangelion, which we translate as gospel.
To do evangelism simply means to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
Now, who is the audience for that proclamation?
We immediately think of those who do not yet know the gospel and those who have not yet received it.
We must declare in power the good news.
This is the only way that people will be able to become a part of the Kingdom of God.
This is exactly what Paul meant in Romans 10:
But the gospel is not only for those who have not yet believed.
The gospel is for those who already believe as well.
The gospel isn’t only the ABC’s of the Christian faith.
The gospel is the A to Z of the Christian faith as well.
We need the good news declared to us, for by its declaration we experience its power.
We find the motivation that we need to live according to that gospel.
In addition to a word driven ministry, Jesus also met people’s physical needs.
He healed them of their diseases.
Sickness was simply the result of living in a fallen world.
Since Jesus was coming to fix what had been broken, he waged war on the people’s physical illnesses.
This did two things.
First, it backed up Jesus’ word ministry.
Hard to argue with what the man teaches when he is making the lame walk and lifting corpses from their graves.
Secondly, Jesus did these things because he loved these people.
There are many instances where Jesus healed someone and they went on their merry way without any further regard for him.
He often healed with no strings attached, but capitalized on those relationships that grew through his physical ministry to them.
This is yet another area that the church is called to join Jesus in.
No, we cannot heal the way Jesus healed.
But we can meet people’s physical needs.
We can love people free of charge, with no strings attached.
Our message will be better received if we love people well and not simply view them as potential notches on our evangelistic belts.
The Model
All three of these elements to Jesus’ ministry were to be carried out by his disciples.
He isn’t simply serving the people of Galilee.
He is preparing his disciples to serve Galilee and beyond by modeling ministry before them.
So too, the church today is called to carry that ministry on.
Jesus’ Heart for the Lost
Matthew 9.36
Jesus’ compassion
Obviously, as Jesus ministers the crowds begin flocking to him more and more.
Seeing these crowds coming out in desperation for him moved Jesus’ heart.
They were vulnerable like shepherd-less sheep: exposed and defenseless to countless threats.
There are so many competing voices and claims to truth in our world.
Seeing the crowds he was ministering to moved Jesus’ heart.
They were vulnerable like shepherd-less sheep: exposed and defenseless to countless threats.
Our tendency is to view those who fall for those voices with contempt.
We look down our nose at those who believe that the natural world is all there is.
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