I am so excited that you’re here today, because I believe this morning will be the beginning of a new work of God at this church. Almost seven years ago, when I arrived at UBC, God laid a burden on my heart for discipleship. He convicted me with the fact that our churches were not making disciples and, in fact, didn’t even know how to make disciples. Since that time, God has done a work throughout North America in the hearts and minds of many pastors and churches are beginning to recapture the vision of discipleship. Meanwhile, we have grown immensely in our focus and practice of discipleship here, and while we still have room for improvement, I’m proud of how far we’ve come.
But over the last several months, God has placed a hunger in the hearts of our staff to see people coming to know Christ. We recognize that evangelism is not a strength of this church and we are incredibly convicted about this, because just like discipleship, it is part of our reason for existence. We don’t want to just gather and sing and pat each other on the backs each Sunday, we want to pierce the darkness with the light of the gospel. We want to rescue souls from eternal damnation. We want to see people being reconciled to Christ often. This morning I want to share a bit of our vision to see this happen, but first I want us to look at how Jesus began His ministry so we can learn from His life how we ought to be living.
This morning as we get into the second half of Matthew chapter 4 (vss. 12-25), we’re going to see a picture of Jesus’ ministry, but before we get into today’s text, we need to see that a year has passed between verses 11 and 12. Matthew doesn’t talk about the first year of Jesus’ ministry after His time of temptation in the wilderness, but we know from the Gospel of John what took place, so I want us to jump over to John chapters 1-4 and then we’ll get caught up to where Matthew picks up in 4:12.
Starting around John 1:19 we find some religious figures out in the desert questioning John the Baptist about his identity. It appears that in the midst of this, Jesus has returned from His time of testing in the wilderness and is visiting the area where John was preaching and baptizing.
- As he is questioned, John tells the religious leaders (vss. 26-27) “…among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
-Verses 29-31 tell us that the next day Jesus was among the crowd listening to John again, and John referred to Him as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world and then he explained that the reason he came baptizing with water was that Jesus might be revealed to Israel. In verse 32 he goes on to tell the story of how the dove came down and landed on Jesus when he baptized Him.
-Verse 35 tells us that the day after that John was there with two of his disciples, and when he saw Jesus passing by he said to his disciples, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the disciples heard this, they followed Jesus and spent the entire day with Him. After their time with Jesus, Andrew went and told his brother Peter and he brought him to Jesus.
-Verse 43 tells us that the next day Jesus left Galilee, found Philip, who in turn found Nathanael and they all followed Jesus.
-John chapter 2 tells us that on that third day, Jesus, his mother, and His disciples, went to a wedding in Cana where Jesus’ mother instructed Him to fix the problem of the wedding party running out of wine and this led to His first miracle.
-Chapter 2 verse 12 tells us that after this He went down to Capernaum with His mother, brothers, and disciples for a few days.
-Verse 13 fast forwards to a time near Passover whereupon Jesus cleared the temple in Jerusalem.
-John chapter 3 tells us of Jesus meeting with Nicodemus.
-3:22 tells us that sometime after this Jesus and His disciples went to the Judean countryside where He spent some time with them and they baptized people.
-4:3 tells us that Jesus went back once more to Galilee, but on the way through Samaria He met a woman at the well and talked to her about the Kingdom of Heaven.
-4:43 and then 46 tells us that two days after that encounter He had another encounter with a royal officer whose son was sick and He healed him. But notice that verse 44 tells us that Jesus had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country. Why does it say this? Well, one last bit of background and we will be caught up for Matthew 4.
-Turn to Luke chapter 4. Beginning in verse 14, we see the story of Jesus teaching in a synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth. He taught from Isaiah 61 and explained that He was the fulfillment of this prophecy. The people were excited and happy about His teaching, but then He went on to explain to them that they would reject Him and the Gentiles would accept Him. Upon this news, the people took Him to the edge of a cliff in town and attempted to throw Him off and kill Him. But Luke 4:31 tells us that He walked right through the crowd and went on His way. Verse 32 tells us that after this, He went down to Capernaum.
A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS (Matt. 4:12-17)
Now we see in today’s passage that after hearing about John’s arrest (which Matthew 14 tells us took place because he confronted Herod’s affair with his brother’s wife) Jesus returned to Nazareth, but then left there (and we know the details of why He left there now!) to live in Capernaum. Matthew explains that Jesus’ decision to live in Capernaum fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 9 which said that the people of Galilee would see a great light. Verse 17 confirms this idea by informing us that “From that time on Jesus began to preach.” And what was His message? The same as John the Baptist – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
We’re going to see three pictures of Jesus on mission today and my hope is that as you remember that you were called to follow Him, not just an admire Him, the Holy Spirit will impress on you the responsibility and privilege you have to continue His mission in your own life. The first picture I want you to see of Jesus today is that He was a Light in the Darkness. Jesus came to save sinners. He explains in Luke 19:10 that He “came to seek and to save what was lost.” He says in John 10:10 that He came that people may have life, and life to the full! He says in Luke 4:43 that He came to preach the good news of the kingdom of God – that’s why He was sent. Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:21 that Jesus came to be an example for us, that we might follow in His steps.
So, let me ask you, are a light in the darkness? Does your life look different from anyone else in our culture? Are you living in such a way that people would look to you for help? Are you actively and intentionally sharing Jesus with others? If we are truly following Christ, and He came to seek and to save the lost, each of us must be about the same mission.
A Fisher of Men (Matthew 4:18-22)
In addition to preaching the good news to others, we find in verses 18-22 that Jesus invested in others. He was a fisher of men. He invited others to do life with Him, He taught them and modeled for them what living on mission looked like, and then He sent them off to do the same.
We read that Jesus came upon Peter, Andrew, James, and John and simply called out to them and they left everything and followed Him, but we know from the background of John that we looked at earlier, that they had time to consider Jesus’ mission and count the cost. They learned about Him, they watched Him, and then, it appears that they went back to their professions. But after some time, Jesus came back to them and invited them to follow Him forever and take part in His mission. Jesus’ invitation to these men is the mission statement for our church – “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19)
Jesus issues this invitation to you as well. What does it mean to follow Jesus? It means that we are to imitate His life, we are to follow Him. We are to be changed by Him, He must make us fishers of men. That means that He will mold us and teach us and change us. And we must become fishers of men. We must take on a new goal in life – the salvation of mankind. We get a glimpse of what it means to follow Jesus in the disciples’ response – they left everything.
In order to follow Jesus, you need to understand two things. His invitation to follow Him is first of all, and call to Himself. Jesus wants you to know and to love Him. He wants you to spend time with Him through time in the Word and time in prayer. He wants you to understand and learn of His life and His righteousness. He wants a relationship with you. The second thing you need to understand is that His invitation is for you to join His mission to fish for men. You cannot be close to Jesus if you don’t have a heart for what He has a heart for. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and once you give your life to Him you must take on the same mission or recognize that you are living in disobedience to Him.
A PHYSICIAN FOR THE SICK (Matthew 4:23-25)
Not only was Jesus a Light in the Darkness and a Fisher of Men, we also see that He was a Physician for the Sick. Matthew tells us in verse 23 that Jesus’ ministry had three pieces to it – He taught, He preached, and He healed people. He didn’t only care about their souls, He care about them holistically. He healed diseases and sicknesses, He helped those suffering with pain, He delivered those who were demon-possessed. He helped people everywhere He went, but He absolutely understood the priority of humanity’s sickness of sin and Matthew knew this as well as anyone.
In Matthew 9:9-13 we are told the story of Jesus walking by Matthew’s tax collector booth and inviting him to follow Him. Matthew did, and then he threw a party for all of his tax collector friends and other sinners and Jesus joined them. Religious people didn’t understand why Jesus was hanging out with this kind of crowd so they asked Him about it and Jesus explained, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick….I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13)
Like Jesus, we must be light in the darkness, we must be fishers of men, and we must be physicians for the sick and hurting. But how do we do that? Well, let me suggest some very specific ways you can be on mission right here in Beaverceek.
We need you to demonstrate passion and urgency around sharing the hope of Jesus with people as we gather on Sundays and as we go into our communities each week. As a church, we want to be FOR our city!
Over the next 18 months we want you to join us in committing to being FOR our city in the following ways…
- Be FOR 4 families in your city.
We want you to commit to being for 4 individuals/families.
We want you to make your kitchen table an extension of UBC as you spiritually stand in the gap for these families in prayer and support, all with a passion that they would see that Jesus is FOR them. This isn’t about making people into projects, but changing the posture of your heart.
Share your “FourYouAreFor” first names (or initials) with us on our new www.ForTheCreek.com webpage so that we can pray with you and send you monthly tools to help you be intentional and available in caring for those who don’t know God is FOR them.
Action Step: Sign up your names and receive our regular FOR people email tools.
- Make better spaces FOR the people in our cities
We want you to help us make more and better space FOR our city every Sunday.
Action: We want you to give financially to help us build a new sanctuary to we can accommodate more people in the city.
- We want to be FOR our city partners.
We need you to help deepen our commitment to our city partners.
We dream about being FOR as many people in our city as possible. Our partners in the city make an incredible difference every day, and have expertise in working with families when it comes to those who are most vulnerable. We need everyone to help us get behind them as we present future volunteer and financial opportunities.
Action: We will be asking you to help us get behind our partners, Shaw and Main Elementary and Coy Middle School, with your time and finances as we help them be FOR people in our city.
Ultimately this is about people, and our passion and commitment to introduce them to the hope of Jesus by creating a space that unchurched people love to attend and beginning conversations that will ultimately lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus.
Imagine if our church became known as being FOR the Creek as we gather and as we go?
What if everyone in our city knew that the people of UBC are FOR them every day of the week – wherever and whenever?
What if people knew that when they need someone in their corner, that they can walk through our doors on Sunday and there are people who are FOR them?
What if UBC as an organization was known as being FOR our city as we partner with those working to help educate the children of Beavercreek?
Through this effort, our prayer is that the people in our cities will know that Jesus is FOR them as they learn that we are FOR them.