Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jesus' Ministry & Our Great Need

I'm considering Jesus' ministry this morning:
* Jesus pronounces "woe" over the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, & Capernaum for failing to repent in the face of His miracle-working: " will descend to the day of judgment..."
* Jesus praises His Father, supreme authority over all, not just for revealing truth to some, but also for hiding it from others! "Yes, Father, for this way was pleasing in Your sight." He then shares this praise as a teaching to those with Him: "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." Far from simple repetition of simple observations about what God has done for us, Jesus' praise is emotionally challenging (praising God for what we would consider ministerial failure) and leads to a teaching about the deep things of God's sovereignty and salvation. Utterly surrendered praise for all things leads to teaching about the absolutely sovereign plan of God for salvation through the second Person of the Trinity.
* Jesus tenderly invites those listening (the "crowds" of 11:7) to discipleship: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:20-30). "Rest" comes not just through coming to Jesus, but taking His "yoke" and learning from Him - discipleship! This is not a one-time "decision," but a following of Christ that takes on His burden and shows progress in learning from Him. I would further observe that this cannot happen apart from joining our lives to His Church, where He teaches through other disciples in His Word by His Spirit.

Pronouncing judgment for failure to repent, praising the all-ruling Father for everything in ministry - even for those from whom salvation is hidden - and gently extending an invitation to come to Him for rest & learning...Lord Jesus, work through Your Spirit in us that we can minister in such a way that doesn't waver from Your truth, praises the Father for everything, & never ceases to call people to rest in & learn from You. This is emotionally challenging (praising as we see folks walk away), stands in the face of our desire to be liked ("woe to you"), and maintains a continual standard of learning, imitative discipleship for ourselves and those to whom we extend the invitation. Apart from You, Christ, we freely confess this is impossible, for we prefer to praise You for the good things You give us, build ministry too often on the desire to be liked, and try to reduce following You to a simple - an unbiblical - "sinner's prayer."

We lift up this ministry to You and plead for Your gracious working through Your Spirit this day and every day.

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