From our Gospel reading this morning we can pick out several points of interest which carry over into the reading we heard from Paul’s first epistle to the church at Corinth. Now to put things into perspective we must realize that the reading from Matthew, beginning at verse 12, immediately follows the scripture narratives of Jesus being baptized by John in the Jordan River followed by His immediate temptation in the wilderness by Satan himself.
This is important to the understanding of any scriptures which follow the story of Jesus temptation because if Jesus had failed this test with Satan, nothing else would have mattered, nothing else would have made any difference. Had Jesus failed the test with Satan there would not have been, there could not have been a story of the cross. The cross would not, could not have happened. It follows then that there would not have been, could not have been any such thing as salvation and we could stop writing scripture right then and there.
But scripture does not stop there. Jesus did not fail and scripture goes on. As a matter of fact we find that immediately after His temptation, Jesus begins His ministry. Sadly, according to Matthew one of the first things Jesus learns as He begins His ministry is the fact that John the Baptist had been put in prison.
But His ministry begins. Now I want you to follow along with the beginning of that ministry of Jesus. In Just a few verses we learn the importance of ministry and what ministry is all about. Listen again to words from Matthew that tell of this.
FROM THAT TIME JESUS BEGAN TO PREACH AND TO SAY, “REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND."
The first thing Jesus does in His ministry is to PREACH. Preach so that the people know God’s will for them. Preach so that people know the consequences of not obeying God. Preach so that people have words of hope and assurance. So Jesus does this. He preaches a message of REPENTANCE. Why? BECAUSE THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND. You’ve had your chances with sacrifices and with laws and with offerings but those things are passing and the very kingdom of heaven has been manifested in the appearance of Himself, Jesus, the Son of God. We are now in the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
The next thing Jesus does in His ministry is to pick disciples. Those whom He will teach and instruct that in time they may carry on the preaching of the GOSPEL, the GOOD NEWS. Why? He will make them fishers of men. PREACHING AND CALLING PEOPLE TO GOD. COME! Come!
As we move to verse 23 we learn Jesus is still preaching.
AND JESUS WENT ABOUT ALL GALILEE, TEACHING IN THEIR SYNAGOGUES, AND PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM.
Now I want to jump to the Gospel of John just for a moment. Turning to the 17 Chapter of John we find what is commonly referred to as “The High Priestly Prayer.” Before I reveal the content of that prayer, two points to make. First: Jesus is praying for the relationship that He and the Father have, and Jesus prays for the relationship He and His disciples have, and Jesus prays for the relationship that exists between Himself and all believers.
The second point is the fact that John records the fact that right after Jesus offers this prayer they go out to a garden where Jesus is arrested and the course of human history and its relationship with God will be changed in a manner such as the world has never seen. The cross looms just ahead. Jesus knew that but no one else did. And so He offers His prayer. The High priestly prayer.
In the first part of this prayer He prays for Himself and His relationship with God. To paraphrase this prayer it says this, “ He, meaning Jesus Christ, should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
And then He prayed for His disciples, “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for them whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all mine are Yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one, as We are.
And then He prays for those who will believe. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us.
Note: First: Throughout, Jesus prays for unity. Unity as He and the Father have for the disciples to have, and unity for believers to have among themselves and in Christ Jesus. Unity in God the Father. And note this as well. He prayed for those who will believe in Him through the word they receive from His disciples.
Remember, that is how Jesus began His ministry. He began to preach and then chose His disciples so that they in turn would preach so that people would believe in Him, the Christ.
And now we jump ahead to the reading we heard from I Corinthians. Chapter 1 beginning with verse 10 and ending with verse 18. I want to share with you that verse 18nwhich we end with today will be our starting point in next weeks reading; and, also the passage of scripture beginning with verse 18 is my most favorite passage of scripture in all of the Bible.
So moving to I Corinthians. After Jesus prayer for Christian unity we find in the early Christian Church at Corinth, DEVISION. Now this division wasn’t of a Spiritual nature. They were still primarily one in Spirit but they were divided in doctrine. They were putting a great deal of emphasis upon who baptized them, meaning the belong to Paul or to Apollos, or to Cephas. Paul quickly ask the question, “Is Christ divided?”
Now, though they may appear to be divided I want you to hear what the Apostle Paul says to these Corinthian believers at the beginning of this letter He has written to them. Listen for the key word CONFIRMED.
EVEN AS THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST WAS CONFIRMED IN YOU, SO THAT YOU COME SHORT OF NO GIFT, EAGERLY WAITING FOR THE REVELATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHO WILL ALSO CONFIRM YOU TO THE END, THAT YOU MAY BE BLAMELESS IN THE DAY OF OUR JESUS CHRIST.
What that is saying is, “Oh yes, there was a lot said about how you can be saved by believing in Jesus Christ, but is all of that really true? Yes it is. It was confirmed in you. You believed and you were filled with the Holy Spirit which attest to this confirmation of salvation in Jesus Christ. You know it. You feel it. You believe it AND this will be confirmed in you again at the end when Christ comes in final victory.
The question is, “Has it been confirmed in you?” This testimony about Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul says he is glad he didn’t baptize many because he certainly didn’t want to be a part of this apparent division. He wasn’t sent to baptize, BUT TO PREACH.
And we’re right back to the beginning. Jesus came preaching. The Apostle Paul was sent to preach. Not that baptism shouldn’t be done. But Paul was to preach. And what was he to preach. This we find in verse 17 and this is the start of my most favorite verse in the Bible. Listen: For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, (and especially listen to this part), not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
What the Apostle Paul is saying here is that He has no words of his own that will save anyone. He is not going to use wise words to save anyone. He is simply going to preach the gospel, the good news. The power of that good news is in the cross. That is where it all happened and that is what Paul will preach.
Next week we will hear part 2 of this Corinthian letter and then we will have a series about the will of God.