Before the Cross, what were Jesus and His followers preaching?
Most of this can obviously be answered from accounts in scripture itself, but I am hoping that this can become a bit of a collaborative discussion so that you can give your ideas and help me to understand this better.
For several weeks I have been pondering on these questions, which took a deep urgency in my spirit. I felt the need to know what I should be preaching and what was the original message…
Today the message of the church is that of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but the disciples were ignorant of this message. Jesus was not preaching this either. It suddenly struck me that they weren’t preaching the message of the cross and resurrection from the dead, or the shedding of His blood to take away our sins… The cross and resurrection is what I equate with the Good News – The Story of the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday! So what was the good news that the followers of Jesus preached?
My questions are: –
What did Jesus preach?
What did the 12 and the 72 preach, when Jesus sent them out?
What should I be preaching?
1 – John the Baptist Prepares the Way
Matt 3:1 – In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’ ”
People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.
Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
2 – (Matt 4) Jesus Begins to Preach
Matt 4:12 – When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee…
17From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him…
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Jesus healed, loved, taught the people to love God and to apply love in their lives.. He called for repentance, forgave their sins and He called people to “Follow me!”
“For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”(Matt 9:13)
Matt 9:35 – Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. .. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
4 – Matthew 10- Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
“1Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness…
5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give…
… 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
The 12 disciples were some of the first believers in the gospel of the kingdom. They were among the faithful of Israel who trusted that Jesus was the Son of God and promised Messiah. They were sent only to the lost sheep of Israel – to those who knew the law of God and the prophets, those who were to expect and long for the coming of the Messiah… they followed the message of John the Baptist, who had prepared the way with the call to repentance…
What did it mean to preach “The Kingdom of God is near”? We know that they healed the sick and cast out demons in His name – which was a compelling evidence for the claim that the Kingdom of Heaven is near! But what else would it have meant? To the people of Israel, the message to repent and to turn back to God, would have been both familiar and very rich and meaningful. The people of Israel knew God’s laws, to which they must return.
When Jesus sent out the 72, it seems the message was slightly different and the instruction was not only to Israel, but to every town and place where He was to go.
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
Luke 10:1 – After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go…
9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town…
In Matthew and Luke’s accounts, the preaching seems to be –
“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”
In Mark’s account –
“The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15
The Purpose of John’s Gospel
31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 3:36 – “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life; but the one who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
John 6: 29 – Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:40 – For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
The Great Commission to all followers of Jesus
Matt 28:18 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you …”
The Acts of the Apostles
Peter and the other disciples, continued to proclaim this message –
Acts 2:36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
… 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 10:34 – Then Peter began to speak: [to Gentiles] “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him…
… 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
John the Baptist and Jesus preached to CONFESS and REPENT of SINS, to TURN (back) TO GOD, BELIEVE in ‘JESUS – the MESSIAH and SON of GOD’, and believe THE GOOD NEWS that THE KINGDOM of HEAVEN – (the RULE AND REIGN OF GOD) – is NEAR at HAND.
TODAY IS THE DAY FOR SALVATION. Believe, be baptised and turn to God with all your heart, mind, strength… Everyone who believes in Jesus and follows Him is forgiven and saved from the wrath of God, for eternal life.
Salvation happens in a moment, but sanctification is a process that takes the rest of our lives, which is why He exhorts us also to “make disciples… baptising… and teaching…”
The Holy Spirit helps us in this mission too.
I love the assurance that He sends us to every town and place where He himself intends to go…
This is the message I need to preach, I believe.
But I also ask myself, How significant is the change in the message of Salvation after the death and resurrection of Jesus?
How different is the gospel as it needed to be presented to Gentiles and now, to people of today?
Please add your thoughts in the comments about what we need to preach today.
Oh that The Holy Spirit would still validate the preaching of the word with signs and wonders, that the lost may see and believe and be saved, and God may be seen and glorified. Amen.