When I was nineteen, I had a dramatic encounter with God that changed the course of my life. I began to pursue the Lord and devour the Word. I was hungry to know God and see Him move.
As I read through the gospels, I began to wonder why the ministry of Jesus looked so different than what I had known all the years of growing up in church. How come everywhere Jesus went He healed people, yet I had never seen this happen? Why is it that Jesus would often cast out demons, but I had never witnessed someone being delivered from a demon? These questions began a pursuit in my life to see the ministry of Jesus restored to the church.
Let’s take a deeper look at what the ministry of Jesus actually is.
What is the Ministry of Jesus?
In my book Restoring the Ministry of Jesus I outline the four things that Jesus did on a regular basis during His earthly ministry: preaching, teaching, healing, and deliverance.
Several passages in the gospels summarize His ministry, including Matthew 4:23-24 (emphasis added):
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 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, and paralytics; and He healed them.”
These four activities were the most common things that Jesus did. Let’s break them down briefly:
Jesus was a preacher. To preach is to proclaim a message, and His message was the “gospel of the Kingdom.” He declared the good news that the kingdom of God was at hand; that God’s rule and reign was coming on earth to displace the kingdom of darkness. He was not just concerned with getting people to heaven; He aimed at getting heaven to people.
Along with the kingdom, He proclaimed the message of repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He called people to turn away from their sin, thereby breaking their tie to the devil’s kingdom and being reconciled to God.
One of the most common titles given to Jesus in the gospels was “Teacher” because one of His most common activities was to teach. Jesus taught in the temple, in the synagogues, and in homes. He also taught outdoors; on a mountain, in the wilderness, and in the marketplace. Teaching is different than preaching in that while preaching is proclaiming a message teaching is explaining truths of God’s Word.
When people heard Jesus teach, they noticed something different about Him. “And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). Jesus taught with authority. He explained and interpreted the Scriptures in ways that the people had never heard before. He went beyond the letter of the law and got to the heart of the matter.
Jesus healed the sick on a regular basis. Everywhere He went He cured the sick, restored the brokenhearted, and delivered the captives. This became so well known that those in need of healing would come to Him from all the surrounding regions to wherever He was ministering.
It is important to consider that the ministry of Jesus involved not just words, but a demonstration of power. Healing was a sign that the kingdom of God was advancing, and it demonstrated the compassion of God. Jesus saw sickness as an enemy to be destroyed.
Jesus also commissioned His followers to heal the sick. He passed the baton of healing to the twelve (see Matthew 10:1), then to 70 others (see Luke 10:1, 9), and then to the whole church (see Mark 16:17-18).
Deliverance refers to casting out evil spirits in order to free people from bondage, oppression, and torment. Have you ever considered that casting out demons was as common to Jesus as preaching? “And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons” (Mark 1:39).
Deliverance from demons was a very common need in the time of Jesus and nothing has changed today. Yet, how many times have you seen this happen in your time as a Christian? We need to have a better understanding of this ministry and the need for it today. Too many are suffering unnecessarily with torment and oppression of the enemy.
Bridging the Gap
The ministry of Jesus was never meant to stop. He has commissioned the church to carry on His ministry, and we are to pick up the baton and do His works. Instead of settling for the way things are, we must contend for the ministry of Jesus to be restored, bridging the gap between what we are currently experiencing and the ministry of Jesus shown to us in the New Testament.
In order for this to happen, we must pursue not just what Jesus did but how He did it. Jesus ministered out of intimacy with the Father, and this should be our highest priority. He was moved with compassion for people, and we should seek to be filled with His love for others. He operated in great authority, and He has given that same authority to the church. And He was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit; the same Holy Spirit that lives in you and me.
As we align ourselves with His heart and His ways, we will see the kingdom of God advance and the ministry of Jesus restored to the church!