Author: Ron Graham
The Fourfold Ministry of Jesus
—Laying the foundation for all Christian ministry
The Ministry of Jesus, spanning the three years or so between his baptism and his death, laid the foundation for the ministry of all Christians.
1 To Manifest and Explain God
"The Word became flesh" and manifested the glory of God as "the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-5,14).
He was God "revealed in the flesh" (1Timothy 3:16).
"God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself" (2Corinthians 5:18-19).
"Christ Jesus... existed in the form of God" but took "the form of a bondservant, being made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:5-11).
Jesus showed us the Father. "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
Jesus demonstrated the power and authority of God (Luke 5:18-26).
2 To Explain and Fulfil the Old Testament Prophets
"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them the things concerning himself in all the scriptures" (Luke 24:27).
"I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about me in the law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled" (Luke 24:44-45).
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17).
3 To Choose and Train His Apostles
Jesus told the eleven disciples to teach "all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:16-20).
"These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you, but the Helper... will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you" (John 14:25-26).
"Remember... the commandment of the Lord and Saviour spoken by your apostles" (2Peter 3:2 NASB).
4 To Begin Preaching the Gospel
"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since then the gospel of the kingdom is preached..." (Luke 16:16).
"He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel..." (Luke 20:1).
"God... in these last days has spoken to us by his Son..." (Hebrews 1:1-2).
"How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was first spoken by the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard..." (Hebrews 2:3).
Those passages show that Jesus was the first gospel preacher after the Old Testament prophets. Any commentary Jesus made on the law of Moses was incidental (eg Matthew 15:1-9).
We often hear Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) called "the first gospel sermon" —however this is intended to mean only that this is the first record of the disciples of Jesus preaching the gospel after they were empowered and after Jesus established his church. It is not meant to imply that the gospel had not been previously preached.