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Jesus’ Inaugural Address & Public Ministry

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
July 4, 2022 12:01 am

Jesus’ Inaugural Address & Public Ministry

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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July 4, 2022 12:01 am

Jesus often drew crowds with the miracles and healings He performed. But when Christ opened His mouth to teach, He left His hearers astonished. Today, R.C. Sproul examines the power and authority of Jesus' preaching.

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When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, He meant that literally. As He would be walking down the dusty streets of Galilee, going from village to village, He would be teaching as He walked, and the disciples would be walking right behind Him, committing to memory the lessons that He was drilling them in and instructing them as they went. They also witnessed Jesus heal the sick and lame and bring Lazarus back to life. We can only imagine how exciting that must have been for those early disciples, but we know it wasn't a glamorous life either. In fact, Jesus promised that they would face all kinds of trials. Let's learn more about the cost of following Jesus as Dr. R.C.

Sproul teaches on his first recorded sermon. We've seen that when Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, that He was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. And after our Lord successfully stood against the unbridled assault of the enemy and was ministered to by the angels after the departure of Satan, we read in Luke's gospel that then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee. Now that is recorded for us in the fourth chapter of Luke's gospel immediately following after Luke's account of the temptation of Christ. But we're told that Jesus was driven by the power of the Spirit into the wilderness, and He returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and we are told that the news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And Jesus now, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, begins His public ministry, and as a ministry that is in first place is marked by extraordinary teaching. And Luke gives us the record of the first sermon recorded, at least in his gospel, by Jesus. It wasn't the first time that He spoke, but He tells us of what happened when Jesus came to Nazareth, the place where He had been brought up. And we are told that He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read, and He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Now let me just pause here for a second. Jesus is functioning as an itinerant rabbi, that is a rabbi who is not fixed in a single location, that has a school and a campus where everybody enrolls and has to attend classes, but He is like a roving, walking, peripatetic rabbi who goes from town to town and village to village teaching. And now we're told that He comes to His hometown, to Nazareth, and He goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath day as was His custom.

And we are told that He stands up to read. That is an indication that Jesus is being treated with some respect here, that He's being recognized as a rabbi and as a visiting rabbi is given the honor of reading the prescribed text of the day. And so the scroll was brought to the front of the synagogue and unrolled and opened before the visiting rabbi, and Jesus then began to read from this scroll for the people. Now if you recall when we were studying the Old Testament and we talked about the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah, I mentioned that in Isaiah 61 we read the job description of the Messiah who was to come.

Now here early on in the public ministry of Jesus, Jesus comes back to Nazareth. He's invited to read the scroll, and the scroll happens to be from the text of Isaiah 61. He found the place where it was written, the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Then He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. Now I don't know how many times I read that text before I had a scholar explain to me the significance of it. I envisioned something like this, that Jesus came into the synagogue and sat down in a seat, and then He was invited to come to the front of the synagogue and to read the text of the day. And once He finished reading, then He turned around and walked back and sat down in the pew like a visiting reader might do in the church on Sunday morning in one of our congregations.

But that's not what the text is saying. In the synagogue situation and the environment, the people sat on the floor, the nephews, and when the reading was done, the reader would stand to read. And then it would be the task of the rabbi to give an exposition, a sermon, on the text that had just been read. And the posture for preaching was for the preacher to be seated on a bench or a chair or something like that.

And then those who were assembled would sit at His feet, literally. So when it says here that Jesus, after reading the scroll, sat down, it doesn't mean that He went back into the congregation, but rather He stayed in front of the congregation and assumed the posture of the preacher who would now give His exposition of the text. And we are told by Luke that the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him, and He began to say to them, today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. Now, I don't know what else Jesus said. Maybe He didn't say anything else. This would have been enough to have been received as a bombshell in the synagogue because the people who heard the reading of the scroll understood that they were listening to the words of the prophet Isaiah who was talking about the future coming of the Messiah. Jesus reads this text, and the first thing that He says in His sermon was, today these words are fulfilled in your midst.

It was an electric moment. People didn't know what to say. They didn't know how to respond. We read in here that they all bore witness to Him and marveled at the words that proceeded out of His mouth, and they said, is this not Joseph's son? And He said, you will surely say this proverb to me, physician, heal yourself, whatever we have done in Capernaum, do also here in your country. And then He goes on to say that no prophet is accepted in his own country. But this is a dramatic moment that marks the beginning of the ministry of Jesus where He clearly identifies His mission with that of the description of the Messiah in the book of Isaiah. Now if we turn over to Matthew's account of the Galilean ministry and the early portion of the ministry, we are told that what Jesus does very early on is that He gathers disciples around Him. We are told, for example, that Jesus spent an entire night in prayer before He went about the task of selecting that intimate group of disciples who would follow after Him. Now we have to understand that in the New Testament, a disciple is not the same thing as an apostle, even though many of the apostles were first disciples. The word disciple in the New Testament means learner, and we've seen that Jesus was a rabbi, but He was an itinerant rabbi, and so He went around to potential students and He selected some of them, and He said to them, follow Me.

Now what He was saying was to be understood literally, not just believe what I say or follow Me as we say we're following after a leader. Jesus was talking much more literally than that because as His function as an itinerant rabbi, His students would not be, as I said, on a campus in a dormitory someplace, but they would literally walk around behind Him. And as He would be walking down the dusty streets of Galilee, going from village to village, He would be teaching as He walked, and the disciples would be walking right behind Him, following Him, committing to memory the lessons that He was drilling them in and instructing them as they went.

And then from a large group of these students, Jesus selected twelve, and then from that group He commissioned the twelve to be His representatives, to speak with His authority as apostles, as an apostle was like an ambassador or an emissary who is given the authority by a king or by some powerful person to negotiate in His name or to speak with the authority of the one who sends Him. And so now with His disciples, Jesus embarks upon this national ministry that covers the land. Now there's a brief summary of it in the end of the fourth chapter of Matthew's gospel that in a succinct way I think crystallizes the essence of the public ministry of Jesus. Listen to what Matthew says, and Jesus went about Galilee, about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all kinds of sicknesses and all kinds of disease among the people. And then His fame went throughout all Syria and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, paralytics, and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him from Galilee and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. Now this is the setting that Matthew uses to introduce what modern commentators have said is the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount. Now before we look at this famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, let's keep in mind the linkage between what happened in Nazareth and what is the content of this sermon. Remember He's identifying Himself with the One who is anointed by the Holy Spirit of God to bring comfort to those who mourn, to bring freedom to those who are held captive, to bring healing to those who are diseased and who are broken. And the transition here in the text is that Jesus went everywhere preaching the kingdom of God, teaching in the synagogues, and doing what else?

Healing all manner of diseases. And so the spectacular crowd pushes in against Him. They're hanging on every word that He speaks, and in chapter 5 begins Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount. And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated, you see again He takes His seat as an indication that He's about to speak. And when He was seated, His disciples came to Him, and He opened His mouth and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek.

And what we have here is very familiar to most of us. It's that list of blessings that we call the Beatitudes. I mentioned with the prophets in the Old Testament that the basic vehicle that the prophet used to announce the Word of God to his contemporaries was the device that was called the oracle. If you recall, there were two kinds of oracles. There were positive oracles and negative oracles.

Good news oracles, bad news oracles, or what we call oracles of will, W-E-A-L, that is of prosperity and goodness, and oracles of woe. And it was a standard device used by the prophets. And here we see Jesus in this sermon adopting the form of speaking that was customarily associated with the prophet. He is delivering a series of oracles of divine pronouncements of the promise of benediction, of the revelation of God's blessing. And I think if we try to reduce the significance of this to the English word happy, something is lost in translation, because the kind of happiness that Jesus is declaring that people will receive goes far beyond and far deeper than what we normally associate with a spirit of being glad or happy. This is a kind of happiness that is transcendent.

This is a kind of happiness that penetrates into the deepest chamber of the soul, the kind of happiness that only a relationship, a redemptive relationship with God can impart. Now notice in these Beatitudes that the message that Jesus is giving in this sermon is kind of a topsy-turvy announcement where Jesus is turning the platitudes of this world upside down. He doesn't say, blessed are those who rejoice, but He said, blessed are those who mourn.

He doesn't say, blessed are the rich, but blessed are the poor, the poor in spirit, the poor in heart. Do you remember Isaiah in the Old Testament when God called Isaiah not only to pronounce the judgment on the people, but also to predict the end of the calamities, the end of the divine visitation of wrath, the time when God would temper His justice with mercy. And so He says to the prophet, say unto the people, comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith the Lord. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.

Say unto her, her warfare is over, for she has received double for her sins. And now this is what Jesus is doing. He is on this occasion pronouncing the promise of God to comfort His people, not to comfort everybody, not to comfort the comfortable, but to comfort the uncomfortable, those who are poor, those who have been to the house of mourning, those people who wear blinders in this world, not to be seduced by the allurements of success and power and fame, but who hunger and thirst after righteousness. And He pronounces His blessing on the pure in heart. And you see, with each one of these pronouncements of divine blessedness, He attaches a promise for the future. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst, they shall be filled. Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the sons of God, children of God. Blessed are those who mourn, they shall be comforted. Blessed are the poor, they shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Do you see how He gives a future promise to each one of these human conditions? And He's again turning the world's values upside down, because it's very difficult for a person to feel blessed when they are poor, or to feel blessed when they are mourning, to feel blessed when they are hungry. But particularly difficult is it to feel blessed when you are being reviled, despised, hated, and persecuted. And Jesus says, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before Me. Do you know, in the nineteenth century, with the rise of so-called nineteenth-century liberalism, it was fashionable for the scholars and the theologians of that era to desupernaturalize the message of the New Testament, and to give us a Christianity stripped of the miraculous, stripped of the transcendent, and to reduce the significance of Jesus to that of a great ethical teacher, as the master exponent of a lofty, idealistic value system. And so rather than viewing Jesus as the incarnation of God Himself having a divine nature, He was rather applauded as a great human being who had profound insight, and His lasting contribution to the world is not found in some cosmic act of atonement or resurrection from the grave. That's all mythology, but His great contribution was found in His ethical insight, the acme of which, according to these scholars, was this Sermon on the Mount. But the amazing thing to me is that if you read the Sermon on the Mount carefully, it contains a unique revelation of the person of Jesus Christ Himself. This isn't just a wise man sharing his sagacity with a handful of disciples, but he's saying on his own authority who will receive the kingdom of God and who will not. And then he has the audacity to say before these people, blessed are you when you are persecuted for my sake, for yours is the kingdom of heaven. Think of the implications of a statement like that. What if I would say to you, God will richly bless you and give to you His kingdom when you have to suffer persecution for my sake? What would you think of me?

You would think that's the most arrogant statement that you've ever made in your life. No, Jesus is not simply giving moralisms here. He's revealing Himself and the style of the kingdom that He has brought to bear. Now this sermon goes on. It teaches about prayer, the Lord's Prayer. It teaches us about our responsibility to be salt and light in the world.

It teaches us many principles of living. But let me quickly jump over to the end of the sermon because at the end of the sermon comes, I think, one of the most terrifying warnings that ever come from Jesus. In verse 21 of chapter 7 He says, not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. And many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you.

Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness. I think that's one of the scariest things Jesus ever says, and it's the climax to the Sermon on the Mount. He says on the final day people will rush up to Him with feigned recognition. Hey, Jesus, we're Your friends. We know You.

We're close. Lord, Lord, we have followed You. And Jesus said, please leave, because I don't know who You are. The fact that they repeat the title saying Lord, Lord is an expression of personal intimacy. These people are not simply saying that they had had a casual acquaintance with Jesus, but they are saying, I knew you intimately. And Jesus will say, no, you didn't. And I know it from looking at your lives. And that's scary. And the last thing I want us to learn in this is that in the final analysis in that kingdom that He declares here, the final test will not be, do you know Jesus?

The final test will be, does He know you? The one who preached the Sermon on the Mount isn't just sharing his wisdom. He's also declaring who will inherit the kingdom of God and who will not.

That's a sobering thought, isn't it? We're glad you've joined us today for Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb. All this week we are presenting portions of Dr.

R.C. 's Sproul series, Dust to Glory. It's a sweeping 57-lesson study tour through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. We're concentrating on the ministry of Jesus this week, but you can learn about the entire Bible when you give a donation of any amount and request this series. You'll receive eight DVDs, plus an MP3 CD containing the complete study guide.

You'll also have access to the entire series online through your learning library on the website and on the Ligonier app. Because of the July 4th holiday, no one is in our office today, but you can make your request and give your gift online at In 2020, Ligonier Ministries reached more than 20 million people. That's an amazing number, until you consider that we reached more than 56 million people last year. That's surprising growth, and if you're one of our ministry partners, please know that we could not have done that without you. Dr. Sproul called you the backbone of this ministry because of your commitment to pray for us and provide a recurring monthly donation.

So thank you. But the fact is, many more outreach opportunities are presenting themselves to us. So if you're not a ministry partner, would you consider becoming part of this special group with your monthly gift of $25 or more to help us reach even more people this year?

To find out more and to sign up, just go to slash partner. Tomorrow Dr. Sproul will continue his look at Jesus' earthly ministry. One of the things that captivates our imagination as we examine the life and ministry of Jesus is indeed His teaching, not only the content, which is extraordinary enough, but the manner and style of teaching that Jesus used. We'll discover why Jesus taught in parables tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-28 02:07:07 / 2023-03-28 02:15:42 / 9

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