Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 15
CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY
I would like you to get your Bible and study the Scripture with us as we continue our study in the New Testament. We try to reach across all denominational lines. We don’t attack anyone, we just simply teach the Word as I see it. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on every point, but, basically, I like to help people read the Bible in a way that they can understand. So many read it, but don’t really see what they are reading.
Luke Chapter 1. I think the average church person, whether they are members or not, somehow have the idea that as soon as you get into Matthew Chapter 1, that this is Christianity. And that’s not correct. This is not yet Christianity. This is still an extension of God dealing with Israel, based on all those Old Testament covenants and promises, and Christ is going to come on the scene, as we will see here in Luke 1, as the angel announced it. Not with the message that He’s going to the Cross to die for the sins of the world, although that’s certainly in the mind of God, and don’t think for a moment it isn’t. But He’s going to come first to fulfill the promise made to the Nation of Israel. So it’s all Jewish with few exceptions. And as we come through the Four Gospels we will point them out.
Remember, too, it’s all under the Law, The Temple is still operating, sacrifices are still being offered. And even these people who become believers and followers of Christ don’t shed their Judaism. They still maintain everything that is associated with the Law. And Christ doesn’t rebuke them for it, and neither should we. No one has told them that they’re not under Law, until a lot further down the road when Paul the Gentile Apostle will. That is why we always emphasize that the Bible is a progressive revelation. God doesn’t just suddenly tell the Old Testament people everything that’s coming. Now there is a lot of prophecy, but always remember God hid some things until He saw fit to reveal them. Now Luke Chapter 1; we find the angel is announcing to Mary what is about to happen. This is just another little introduction as to why Christ is making His first Advent to the Nation of Israel.
“And the angel said unto her, `Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.'” Now where is that coming from? Old Testament promises? Now read on:
“And he (This Son) shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his (what?) kingdom (see why I’m always talking about the Kingdom? Because the Bible does) there shall be no end.”
All of this is based on what God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and then as a further ramification of that, the Law is given to Moses. Then as David comes on the scene he is promised that out of him will come a genealogy that will lead to the King. This is all coming into fulfillment. Look again at verse 67. We have looked at this before but repetition is the mother of all learning. Here we are dealing with the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias. And Zacharias was an active priest working at the Temple in Jerusalem. He had been stricken dumb during the pregnancy of his wife, Elisabeth. But now suddenly he has his voice back, and the Jews realize that something supernatural is taking place.
“And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied saying,…” Now when Scripture speaks of someone being filled with the Holy Spirit, everything they speak is going to be God directed. This is not just the wishful thinking of a good patriotic or religious Jew. These are the very expressions of God Himself concerning the Nation of Israel. Now look what He says:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel (are there Gentiles in there? Of course not. He’s dealing with the Jew); for he hath visited and redeemed his people,”
This is all an extension of the Old Testament. And since Abraham, it’s so plainly stated that Israel was God’s chosen people. When the children of Israel were in Egypt, God said He was going to put a division between His people and Egypt. God kept emphasizing all through the Old Testament that His people, the children of Israel were not to commingle with the Gentiles, but to be a separated people. They were not to intermarry, or have anything to do with pagan Gentiles around them. They were never told to go and evangelize them. That recalls what Jesus said in Matthew 15:24, “But he answered and said, `I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'” Paul tells us in Romans 15:8, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision (Jews) for the truth of God, (Why?) to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) Keep this in mind as we study the New Testament.
Even in Acts Chapter 10, what was Peter’s answer to the Lord when, in a vision, the Lord let down a sheet before Peter filled with creatures, and told him to kill and eat? “Not so, Lord. Why? I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” Why did Peter say that? He was a Law-keeping Jew, and he wasn’t about to break the Law by eating something that wasn’t kosher. And then as Peter gets to the very door of the Gentile Cornelius’ home in Acts Chapter 10, what does Peter tell Cornelius? Acts 10:28, “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing (Jewish Law) for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me…” Well, God had something else now in store. He’s now going to turn to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul. But up until that time it was predominately only His Covenant people. Let’s read on:
“And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (see how Jewish that is?); As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:” That’s the Old Testament, of course.“That we should be saved from our (sins? No, from our) enemies (the same ones that are Israel enemies tonight), and from the hand of all that hate us;”
That is why Israel is in such a quandary tonight. They want peace, and yet how can they have peace when everybody all around have sworn statements in their governmental archives that they won’t rest until Israel is driven into the sea.
“To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,” What was the Covenant God made with Abraham back in Genesis 12?
That out of Abraham and Sarah, one day would come a nation of people, and that God would put them in a geographical area of land. That’s why we call it the Promised Land. And then at some future day, He would come and be their government as spoken of in Isaiah 9:6, and that government would be epitomized in The King, The Messiah.
That’s the Abrahamic Covenant in a nut shell. Out of that Covenant all of these other things of the Old Testament are going to revolve. Let’s look at that verse for a moment. And here is the promise of that part of the Covenant, as the prophet writes to the Nation of Israel.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: (who is this going to be that is going to be the government?) and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace (The Christ). Of the increase of his government (His rule and reign) and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Zacharias is still resting on this. However, by the time Zacharias is speaking, Israel is a nation of people, they are in the Promised Land, they have their Temple, priesthood, and worship. But they’re looking for their KING. Another word for The King is the “Anointed One,” or The Messiah. The Greek for The Messiah is The Christ. So when you speak of Jesus Christ you’re actually saying, “Jesus the Messiah!” It’s out of those Old Testament promises that He now comes. Go back to Matthew Chapter 4. We went through Christ’s appearance and His baptism. He is about to start His earthly ministry. I’m going to keep emphasizing, as we come through the Four Gospels, the reason for all of His miracles, preaching, and teaching is to prove to the Jews that He was that promised Messiah. This was the whole scope of His ministry. Look at Chapter 11. This says it as plainly as Scripture can say it.
“Now when John (John the Baptist) had heard (where?) in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,”
Now always try to project yourself into these people’s shoes. John the Baptist had announced the coming of the King, and preached repentance and baptism (I think he saw quite a few come to his preaching). He was there at the baptism of Christ, and saw all the things surrounding the baptism. Now where is he? In prison. Well how would you feel? John felt the same way. Is Jesus really the Christ? Because if He is, what am I doing here? Now look at it:
“And said unto him (these two disciples of John are talking to Jesus), `Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?'” Look at Jesus’ answer. I like to bring this part down to the kindergarten kids “show and tell.” That is what Jesus is saying in the next verse. Go back to John and show and tell.
“Jesus answered and said unto them, `Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.'”
And what was that supposed to tell John? – that he didn’t have to look for another. He is The Christ even though you are in prison. Now just carry that all the way through His earthly ministry. Everything that Jesus says and does is to prove to the Jew of His day that He is this promised King. The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 1:22 “For the Jew require a sign,…” Jesus starts His ministry with a miracle and He ends it with the greatest miracle of all, and that was when He arose from the dead! But all of these things were to prove to the nation of Israel who He was. Now lets go to Matthew Chapter 5 for a moment. This is Jesus speaking:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill,”
Fulfill what? These Covenant promises, basically, this one, because two have already come on the scene. Israel has already become a nation. They are already in the Promised Land, but the government part hadn’t happened yet. But He’s here to bring in that government, Kingdom rule, and that reign for which He had been prepared. So He says He’s here to fulfill. By comparison let turn to Paul’s writings and come all the way back to I Timothy Chapter 1:15. This is not a contradiction, Paul isn’t flying into the face of what Jesus said back here in Matthew, but what is it? It’s a further revelation. Something else has now been added to what we have had in the Four Gospels.
I Timothy 1:15
“This a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to (to be the King of Israel? It doesn’t say that. But He came to) save sinners;…”
What a difference. And yet not different, it’s just an extension. First He came to be the King, but what happened? Now let’s get that answer in the Book of Romans Chapter 11. When He presented Himself as The King, and did everything to prove He was their King, what did Israel do? They crucified Him, and said “Away with Him.” But that didn’t stop God; that didn’t interrupt Him. It was already preconceived in the counsels of the Godhead before eternity past. God wasn’t caught by surprise. But now you see in this chapter, Paul says it again so clearly:
“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for (what was that? The King and the Kingdom! They wanted it, but they didn’t recognize Him. So they missed it); but the election hath obtained it (those that did believe), and the rest were blinded.” Now come on down to verse 11. And remember Paul writes by inspiration to the believer today.
“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall (in other words that God would just do away with them)? God forbid: but rather through their fall (through their rejection of all these promises) salvation is come unto the Gentiles (without the Nation of Israel), for to provoke them to jealousy.”
Paul is saying the Jew had those promises, but they rejected them. God had to send them out into dispersion, and He has now turned to the Gentiles. And that is you and I as believers in the Church Age tonight, with this tremendous Plan of Salvation, based not on temple worship, or keeping the Law, or the things we have been studying about, but rather by faith in Christ’s death, burial, and Resurrection. The Gospel of Grace. Faith plus Nothing! He paid the price for your sins and mine. But don’t think for a moment God is through with the Jew. Look at this next verse:
“Now if the fall of them (because they rejected their Messiah) be the riches of the (Gentile) world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?
In other words, what Paul is saying is this. “Yes, God had to set them aside, because they rejected the blessing, and now He’s turned to us with this free Gospel of Grace, Faith plus Nothing. But He is still going to come back to the Jew.”