The Uniqueness of Jesus'
of our teachers wrote this: “[When Jesus washed His disciples’
feet,] He wasn’t simply just doing good deeds; He was expressing His
character. He was
manifesting a servant’s heart. … For Christ, ‘service’ wasn’t
a spiritual ‘ladder to success’ in the sense that, if we’re
willing to serve awhile, we’ll get power later!
It wasn’t a performance so that He would be rewarded.
It was His character! When
He served, He was doing what came naturally!… Any old pagan god
could murder, rape, and brutalize. It
takes the God shown in Jesus Christ to stoop to serve.
And I mean serve! I
don’t mean throwing us crumbs from on high. … To Jesus, greatness is
measured in [real] service. … Even His own disciples found this truth
a hard pill to swallow” (McGuiggan).
In previous lessons, we have looked at the uniqueness of Jesus’
birth and Jesus’ teachings. Today
we want to focus on the uniqueness of Jesus’ ministry before His
triumphal entry into
of all, His ministry was unique in its Divine sanction.
By this, we mean that God’s approval was given to Jesus’
ministry. When Jesus was
baptized by John, we remember how Matthew says, “the heavens were
opened to Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and
alighting upon Him. And
suddenly a voice came from heaven saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in
whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew
-17). Here was the
Messiah receiving God’s Spirit for His ministry which lay ahead.
After two more years, Jesus hits a period of great difficulty.
And it is very interesting that at the time of rising opposition
and rejection, God again breaks on the scene and reassures Jesus and His
closest disciples that Jesus truly is
His ministry was unique in its scriptural basis.
After Jesus was anointed by God’s Spirit at His baptism and
then guided by God’s Spirit into the desert, Jesus then goes to the
synagogue in his hometown of
His ministry was unique in its overcoming evil.
Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness to abandon His mission, but
Jesus withstood Him. After
Jesus told His disciples that He must suffer and be rejected by the
Jewish leaders, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him for even
thinking that such could happen to the Messiah! But
Jesus then rebuked Peter saying, “Get behind Me, Satan!
For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of
men.” Satan was on the
prowl again trying to say through Peter that Jesus did not really need
to suffer and die. The
Messiah that the Jews were expecting was to give them political glory
and live forever! Of course,
Jesus saw that this way of thinking was from men and not from God!
Many of Jesus' miracles showed His power over Satan.
Remember after His disciples had been successful in casting out
many demons, Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from
Also remember how He once brought freedom and health to a Jewish
woman who had been bound by Satan for 18 years (Luke
16). Of course, Jesus'
ultimate victory over Satan came at the cross!
1 John 3:8 proclaims, “For this purpose the Son of God was
manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil.”
Jesus ministry was unique in that it confronted Satan head-on and
Jesus’ ministry was unique in
its redemptive mission. Jesus
once said “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which
was lost (Luke
).” Jesus was on a
rescue mission; He came to save people from their sins.
And time and time again, we see Jesus doing exactly that: an
adulterous Samaritan women (John 4), a demon-possessed man and women
(Mark 5:1-20 & 16:9), Matthew and Zacchaeus—both tax
collectors (Luke 5 and 19), a
woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-12), most all of the apostles after
they had abandoned Him (John
-23). And He tried
reaching out to the religious leaders of His day—to the rulers in the
synagogues, to the temple officials in
to the Sadducees and the Pharisees, but they would not obey Him.
One good brother has stated it this way: “Perhaps the NT [could
be] wrong when it teaches that the death of Christ is a ransom, but it
does teach it! Perhaps the
NT [could be] incorrect when it teaches that Jesus, in some way, because
we couldn’t handle the problem, took our place and did handle the sin
problem—but that’s what it teaches.
‘For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that in Him
we might become the righteousness of God’” (2 Corinthians )!.
Jesus’ ministry was unique in its redemptive mission.
Jesus’ ministry is unique in its spiritual nature.
Jesus always kept God's will uppermost in His mind.
Jesus Himself said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to
do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John
). Because of this
outlook, Jesus turned conventional wisdom upside down at times: to save
your life, you must lose it (Matthew
); leave all things in
order to receive all things (Mark
-30); to be great
become the least (Luke
). One biblical
scholar has noted that Jesus greatest challenge to us was the
stewardship of our material possessions (Blomberg).
Since the spiritual is so important to Jesus, isn't it amazing
that He had no economic agenda for any of His services; all His
healings, all His feedings of thousands, all His teachings were done
with absolutely no charges! Jesus
once told a would be disciple: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air
have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke
He told His disciples: “Freely you have received, freely
give” (Matthew 10:8). Jesus’
focus was never on the treasures of this earth, but upon the treasures
in heaven that we should be storing up (Matthew
-21). Jesus' ministry
was unique in its spiritual nature.
Jesus' ministry was unique in its non-violent emphasis.
The Jews expected a Messiah who would not only overthrow the yoke
of their Roman oppressors through military might but also establish a
grand political kingdom similar to that of Solomon.
This was probably Jesus' most difficult challenge.
Remember on one occasion how Jesus fed 5000 Jewish men.
The apostles were probably thinking, “At last, here is a
sufficient army with which we can storm the gates of
Jesus' ministry was unique in its submissive ethic.
Jesus was very forthright with His followers.
He told them that following Him would mean bearing their own
cross daily and suffering unjustly for the sake of righteousness (Luke
9:23 and Matthew 5:11). One
biblical scholar states it this way: “[After Peter's confession that
Jesus was indeed the Messiah], Jesus began to tell the disciples that
the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected (Mark
). ... If the disciples had begun to follow Him in the expectation
that He would lead them to victory and power as the words were commonly
understood, it was necessary that they should have the situation put
before them plainly, so that they would have no grounds for complaining
that He had enlisted them under false pretenses. ... A man who took up
his cross did so in order to carry it to the place of execution and be
fastened to it there. But if
that was the kind of experience that Jesus envisioned for Himself, those
who followed Him could reasonably expect to share it. ... Two thousand
years later, as we look back on their decision, we can make a ...
limited assessment of our own. [His
apostles' decision] was the right one. ... They counted the cost and
continued to follow Jesus, and their memory is honored to this day.
We may pronounce the verdict of history; the verdict that
eternity lies [in God's hands, and not in an earthly ruler's hands]
(Bruce)”. In our
self-centered culture, dying to ourselves daily and not retaliating when
wronged are some of the greatest challenges we face in living according
to Jesus' submissive ethic, which He so clearly demonstrated in His
Jesus' ministry was unique in its internal focus.
Did you ever notice how Jesus’ sermons and parables really hit
at our hearts? One writer
put it this way: “The Pharisees wanted more obedience, but Jesus
wanted deeper obedience. So
while they were adding law after law and prohibition after prohibition,
Jesus was going deeper. …
They were active in doing, but there was not that inner desire to be
God’s person.” While
they were focusing on the externals of righteousness, Jesus was
preaching a righteousness that came from the inside out.
“He wants us to become something, and then the doing will flow
out of our being” (Cope). Jesus
had some of His harshest words for those who focused on the externals:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful
outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all
uncleanness. Even so you
outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy
and lawlessness. … How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”
(Matthew 23:27-28, 33). Jesus’
ministry was unique in its internal focus.
Jesus' ministry was unique in its universal scope.
Jesus’ world was a “rich Jewish male’s” world, but Jesus'
ministry was anything but that, He reached out to the poor, to women, to
sinners. Jesus began His
ministry by being baptized, an action which associated Himself with
sinners and Gentiles. During
His ministry of eating and associating with all kinds of despicable
types, the religious elite derided Jesus by calling Him “a friend of
tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew
). We see too at
Jesus' death that he gave His life “as a ransom for many” (Mark
) and He was “numbered with the transgressors” (Mark
). Jesus also had His
eyes toward the Gentiles when He said in John 10:16: “And other sheep
I have which are not of this fold; them also must I bring, and they will
hear My voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
We can see that Jesus' ministry was unique in its universal
Jesus' ministry was unique in its enduring quality.
Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16:18 that He would build His
church “and the gates of Hades [or death itself] would not prevail
against it.” His church
continues to prevail. A
women once anointed Jesus with some very costly perfume, and others who
saw this act began to criticize the women severely.
But Jesus rebuked them, “Let her alone.
Why do you trouble her? … She has come beforehand to anoint My
body for burial. Assuredly,
I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what
this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Mark
14:6, 8-9). This ministry
performed for Jesus will continue to be proclaimed down through history
is the implication of Jesus’ statement.
Jesus promised to be with us as we evangelize and minister:
“And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew
28:20). All these passages
show that Jesus’ kingdom is enduring, and ministry done in His name
will have a lasting impact. Jesus’
ministry was unique in its enduring quality.
What a ministry Jesus displayed! No man ever served like He did! His service was prompted by the ultimate sacrificial love and the selfless desire to always do His Father’s will. His ministry can be our ministry as well. Are you up to the challenge of dying daily, carrying your cross, and sacrificing your own self in service to others? If so, then won’t you let that be known publicly?