Three and a Half Years of Ministry

By John Thiel, Beholding Christ Series, Audio: mp3

As we behold Him, as we gaze upon Him, our hearts are touched. We want to continue to behold Him, this time during His years of ministry. Three and a half years where He actually spent His full attention of ministering to the people. We behold Him because it is said that by beholding His glory we will be changed into the same image. All who take Jesus as their personal Saviour are addressed in a very powerful manner to follow His example. Here we are addressed to enter into ministry with Him. Here He speaks to His people, and we desire to be His people, do we not?

The Witness of the Lord

Isaiah 43:10 Ye [are] my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11 I, [even] I, [am] the LORD; and beside me [there is] no saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when [there was] no strange [god] among you: therefore ye [are] my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I [am] God.

This world needs witnesses in reference to God and we know that Jesus was that chosen Servant to represent to this sinful planet the true God of heaven. And having done so, we are now called if we will accept Him according to these words, to be His witnesses.

1 Peter 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Have we not been blessed with a marvellous light? Have we not received illumination of what life is all about in God? There are people in the darkness about us that need that revelation of marvellous truth, and it is to be through God’s chosen people, the people who have received Jesus as a personal Saviour.

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

This is the ministry to which every believer is called to. To them, beholding Christ is the source of their ministry and that is what we seek to do. To behold Him to inspire us, to fulfil the call. Jesus is the light of the world and we are to behold Him and we will also shine in consequence.

What do we see in the ministry of Jesus? We see God becoming a man so that He God, as a man, may minister. To whom? Whom did He God come to minister to as a human being?

Ministering to a Disobedient and Gainsaying People

Romans 10:21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

Who is He come to minister to? He came unto His own to minister and who were they? We read it in John, “His own received him not.” He came to minister to those who were a gainsaying and a disobedient people. Just to take that thought with us is an amazing appreciation. God is prepared to minister to a people who are disobedient and gainsaying, a people whom He stretched out His hands to all through their history, in marvellous manifestations of His love. And now, having ruined their chances times and times again, He comes again this time sending His own Son. The meditation that is for us to gaze upon is the degree of His ministry to these people, as He came to be among them.

Christ employed every means to arrest the attention of the impenitent. {UL 26.2}

People who are disobedient and gainsaying. Impenitent! They didn’t even feel sorry for their sins, they were just blatantly going on. He employed every means to arrest them.

How tender and considerate were His dealings with all. He longed to break the spell of infatuation upon those who were deceived and deluded by satanic agencies. He longed to give the sin-polluted soul pardon and peace. {UL 26.2}

This was His ministry to do this. And in ministering it says, He “employed every means.” Let’s watch Him as He is employing a means to arouse impenitent people.

Christ was the mighty Healer of all spiritual and physical maladies. Look, O look, upon the sympathetic Redeemer. With the eye of faith behold Him walking in the streets of the cities, gathering the weak and weary to Himself. {UL 26.3}

What was He doing with these people who were suffering the consequence of their own disobedience? He walks the streets gathering the weak and the weary to Himself.

Helpless, sinful human beings crowd about Him. See the mothers with their sick and dying little ones in their arms pressing through the crowd that they may get within reach of His notice and touch. Let the eye of faith take in the scene. {UL 26.3}

Meditate upon it, these sinful people who are suffering in their own impenitence, the fruit of their womb is dying because of their sins. As He works and lives among them, what is He trying to do?

Watch these mothers pressing their way to Him, pale, weary, almost despairing, yet determined and persevering, bearing their burden of suffering in their arms. {UL 26.3}

Watch Him

As these anxious ones are being crowded back, Christ makes His way to them step by step, until He is close by their side. Tears of gladness and hope fall freely as they catch His attention and look into the eyes expressing such tender pity and love for the weary mother as well as for her suffering child. He invites her confidence, saying, “What shall I do for you?” She sobs out her great want—”Master, that Thou shouldest heal my child.” She has shown her faith in urging her way to Him, though she did not know that He was making His way to her, and Christ takes the child from her arms. He speaks the word, and disease flees at His touch. The pallor of death is gone. The life-giving current flows through the veins. The muscles receive strength. {UL 26.4}

This is the ministering spirit of Jesus, He sees the problem and He makes His way against the crowd to reach the problem.

Words of comfort and peace are spoken to the mother, and then another case just as urgent is presented. The mother asks help for herself and her children, for they are all sufferers. With willingness and joy Christ exercises His life-giving power, and they give praise and honor and glory to His name who doeth wonderful things. {UL 26.5}

No frown on Christ’s countenance spurned the humble suppliant from His presence. {UL 26.6}

Jesus had a clear visage, no frown.

The priests and rulers sought to discourage the suffering and needy, saying that Christ healed the sick by the power of the devil. But His way could not be hedged up. He was determined not to fail or become discouraged. Suffering privation Himself, He traversed the country that was the scene of His labor, scattering His blessings, and seeking to reach obdurate hearts. {UL 26.6}

To reach what hearts? Obdurate. Seeking to find whoever might respond to His ministry, He was seeking to save and to seek that which was lost. A lost person is somebody who is impenitent, who is unconscious of his resistance to God. Then if he becomes conscious, his own condemnation makes him flee from God. And here is Jesus, trying to arouse and arrest the hearts and minds of these people, because now they are suffering. He comes there to heal, to restore; it is this that makes a selfish, greedy person come for help.

Ministering Grace

… behold Him in that hovel, ministering to the poor; see Him at that sick bed, comforting the suffering, and speaking hope and courage to the desponding. —The Review and Herald, July 30, 1901. {PaM 224.1}

Behold Him in the cities and traveling from place to place, the crowds pressing Him on every side. He gave comfort and power to all who came to Him. None were sent away unhelped. He had brought this power from heaven for these very souls. {RH January 14, 1908}

He brought from heaven ministering grace.

So absorbed was He in the carrying out of His mission that His own family could not draw Him away from His work. {RH January 14, 1908}

He was preoccupied.

He was ministering that which God had given Him to minister to the sick, to the impenitent, to the obdurate, and nothing could stop Him.
{RH January 14, 1908}

Jesus’ Objective

There was Jesus for three and a half years constantly ministering like that. You would imagine with that beautiful labouring love that He expanded upon these people using every effort to arouse and arrest them from their selfisms. You would wonder and think, there would be some good consequences from that. That what He came to achieve would produce results. It’s natural, isn’t it, that when we minister, we look for results? Then if we don’t get results, after a period of time, we think, what’s the use? We begin to become careless about ministry and we don’t do it anymore because it’s failing.

Let’s have a look at what Jesus really wanted to do as He ministered like that. What was His objective? What was it that He was looking for? Here is what He was intending to achieve:

Jeremiah 30:10 Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make [him] afraid. 11 For I [am] with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.

Here He is speaking to Israel, and He is saying, “I am going to try and save you, I am going to gather you out from all the nations whither you have been scattered.” Why were they scattered to all those nations? Because they were disobedient to Him. He says, “Those horrible nations, those heathens systems of error that are there to destroy you, I am going to get you out of there, and I am going to save you, that’s what my objective is.”

Zechariah 8:13 And it shall come to pass, [that] as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, [but] let your hands be strong. 8:14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not: 15 So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not. 16 These [are] the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: 17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these [are things] that I hate, saith the LORD.

Can you see God’s objective here? the objective of Jesus to save Israel, to bring to them judgment and truth in their gates, that people would speak the truth to his neighbour, to bring about a restoration of true spiritual earnestness and vigour. This was His objective.

He is speaking here to the people who were so impenitent, they were so hopelessly resistant to God’s ways, and what does He say?

Hosea 11:8 How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? [how] shall I deliver thee, Israel?

How shall I give you up? I want to save you. This is His objective, as He was on earth, God, as a man, with this objective in view, and this was firing the Lord Jesus Christ in all His ministry. And as He was doing it, what was the outcome of all His efforts to His senses? What was the outcome?

The Fruit of His Labour

Matthew 26:55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. 57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led [him] away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

How do you like that for the results of three and a half years of hard work, of trying to win Israel, to win the Jews to Him? What did they do? They come after Him with staves and swords, after He had done all this self-sacrifice in labor for them.

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

He came into the world, and the world knew Him not, and even the disciples, whom He was teaching and He was warning beforehand, trying to save them from this terrible thing … they all forsook and fled.

We see the fruit of His labour, as He experienced this. Here is Jesus before Pilate, and Pilate before the people.

Mark 15:9 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. 11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. 12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do [unto him] whom ye call the King of the Jews? 13 And they cried out again, Crucify him. 14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.

How do you like that? The fruit of His labour. Who were the crowd that were crying, “Crucify him”? Who were they? Notice that “the chief priests moved the people” The chief priests moved the crowd, stirred them up. Who were the people that they stirred up?

Of the multitude that followed the Saviour to Calvary, many had attended Him with joyful hosannas and the waving of palm branches as He rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. But not a few who had then shouted His praise, because it was popular to do so, now swelled the cry of “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” When Christ rode into Jerusalem, the hopes of the disciples had been raised to the highest pitch. They had pressed close about their Master, feeling that it was a high honor to be connected with Him. Now in His humiliation they followed Him at a distance. They were filled with grief, and bowed down with disappointed hopes. How were the words of Jesus verified: “All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” Matthew 26:31. {DA 743.3}

The fruit of His ministry, as Jesus experienced it.

As the world’s Redeemer, Christ was constantly confronted with apparent failure. He, the messenger of mercy to our world, seemed to do little of the work He longed to do in uplifting and saving. Satanic influences were constantly working to oppose His way. {DA 678.3}

In the experience of Jesus, with the objective in heart to save Israel, to save them from sin, to save them and arouse them from their impenitence, did He succeed, according to His senses? There is only one person that, according to His senses, He thought He had a victory with, and that was the thief on the cross. And with what joy He said unto him,

Luke 23:43 … To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

The only other one that rang in His mind was Mary, who had broken the alabaster box upon His feet, and wiped His feet with her tears and her hair, because if He was going to die, she was going to anoint Him beforehand, and this spoke to His heart ; only two faint little cries, the rest of it was all a failure, when He wanted to come and save Israel and the world. What could Jesus have done – you know the song so well, He could have called ten thousand angels – He could have said, “Forget it, these people do not want my help.” In fact, did you know that in history there was a nation that recognized that Jesus was not being accepted by the Jews, it was the nation of Armenia. And they sent messengers to Jesus, and said, “We will accept you, come to be with us.” The heathen, but His own people? Apparently no success. So, what is natural for us, when we labour, and minister, and labour for the salvation of souls and we see no good results, what do we do, what is our natural inclination, throw it in? Let us look at the words of Jesus, and see His words, as He thought them in His heart.

Isaiah 49:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain,

Yes? That’s what He said.

Isaiah 49:4 I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain:

But … did He stop there? What did He go on saying?

Isaiah 49:4 [yet] surely my judgment [is] with the LORD, and my work with my God.

Alright, if I don’t see any results, that still isn’t going to stop me from working. If if it’s all a failure, I’m doing it with my God, and that’s all that is important to me, He says. Here is our lesson as we behold Jesus Christ, and His ministry. All those who do His bidding, who fulfil His call – “You are my witnesses, I want you to witness for me, I want you to show the world who I am.” Show them! as Jesus did ; and don’t worry about the results. – As you labour in the home, mothers, is it tough? Is it hard? You want your children to become born again Christians? You want to develop in your child the similitude of the divine, how successful have you been? Fathers, you’re trying so hard, husbands, you’re trying so hard to help your wives. You would like to see them going forward in good courage. How successful do you feel you are? Church officers, servants to the people of God, do you see success? Gaze upon Jesus, learn from Him.

A Bruised Reed Shall He Not Break

If there is a little chance, if there is a little flame of success looking at you, if there is a little connection of a broken reed, look at Jesus.

Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

These words are so very precious to me, for I have often been told by both people and Satan himself, “What are you wasting your time with that person for? Why are you still dilly dallying with that person there? Get on with those who will be benefited by you.” But no, there was still a little smoking flax, there was still a little attachment of the broken reed that could be nurtured and restored. While that is there, we don’t say, “Ah, forget it” and snuff it out, but push on, until that person himself snuffs himself out. That’s all we can do. But our work is unto the Lord, we will not be discouraged! Jesus was not discouraged, and He would not fail! He persevered to the end, His work was unto the Lord.

True as the love of a mother to her child, is the love of Jesus to us. It abides unchangeable as himself. The dear Saviour does not fail, neither is he discouraged; and if we are one with him, our faith will be of the same enduring nature. We shall cling to Jesus with unyielding faith, surrendering our will and way to his, binding up our hearts with his great heart of love. We shall live as he lives, work as he works, and because we depend on him as our helper, we shall not fail or be discouraged in the great work of saving our own souls or the souls of others. {ST, November 23, 1891 par. 12}

He was not discouraged. As we gaze upon Him, in His determinations to keep on doing the work as the Father sent Him to do, we will not fail or be discouraged by beholding Him.

Oh, what love, what matchless love! He will not fail or be discouraged in watching over our interests, in summoning us to arise to a nobler, purer life. {ST, November 23, 1891 par. 12}

Why was it that Jesus did not fail or be discouraged? All that mattered was that He was working for His heavenly Father. That’s all that mattered. That’s why He didn’t give up.

Jesus puts it so beautifully here, this is His ministry, this is His heart. When He was sitting there at the well, with the woman from Samaria, and His disciples came back with some food, He said He just got such a thrill, because what was His food?

The Purpose for Living

John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

What was that? To glorify God in the eyes of the world, that’s what His meat was, to reveal to the world who God really is. And this man Christ Jesus made that His food. That was what inspired Him to work, to minister, not results. When we don’t get results, we tire of our work, don’t we? But Jesus did not tire or fail or become discouraged, because His meat was to do the will of the Father.

John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

This was His meat, this was His work, and this was what gave Him purpose for living. What purpose do you have for living; results? Something that inspires you because you’re getting good results? Is that what you’re living for? Sorry, we have a purposeful living because of our Heavenly Father’s desire for us. We have a meaningful life, and we don’t have to know any discouragement when things go wrong in consequence of our efforts, we see it in Jesus. Although Jesus came to His own, and His own received Him not, although He came to the world, and the world knew Him not,

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

That’s what Jesus worked for, for people who would be born of God. And those who did receive Him, to them gave He power to achieve that. Here is the incentive, what an incentive to greater effort this should be to all who are trying to set the hope of the Gospel before those who are still in the darkness of error. Is that not the incentive? That we work for those who will receive Him who are born by the will of God. God knows the heart of every human being and He knows the cry that comes from a heart that wants to submit himself to Him. He knows who it is that receives Jesus, who it is that receives my labour. He knows, I don’t. I don’t see any success, it’s not for me, or for any of us, to make any judgments as to what is the work that I should do by my apparent sense of success. I am merely to do the will of God, so that He who judges all hearts correctly will use my ministry, will use the ministry of Jesus to produce the results that we cannot see here on earth.

May God grant us to keep our eyes focused on Jesus in this kind of ministry is my prayer.

Amen.

Posted on February 9, 2013, in Beholding Christ, Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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