MINISTRY LESSONS | JOHN & JESUS | MARK 1

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Learning from the Ministry of John and the beginning of the Ministry of Jesus!
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Studying a part of the Bible, I discovered we'd be doing ourselves great disservice if we ignore the great details embodied in the book of Mark chapter one. This will not be an attempt to actually bring all of this details to light but I believe the little I am able to communicate will help shade light in the services we render as sons of God who has been set apart for that purpose.
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The Ministry of Jesus started within the Ministry of John the Baptist! Jesus didn't just wake up and started something without identifying with the Ministry of John the Baptist who is the supposed forerunner of the Jesus' ministry. Something significant happened and I wish all of us should take cognizance of it. Jesus had much respect for John and went to be baptized by John! However, John also knew what Jesus was carrying, he didn't puff himself up and brag that the almighty Jesus has come to be baptized by Him! He was able to recognize that Jesus had come to do something greater and indeed is the one that needs baptism from Jesus.
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Jesus getting baptized by John showed us one big thing! Jesus endorsed what John was doing and on the other hand, John recognized what Jesus was carrying and honoured Jesus for it!
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This is how ministers ought to treat one another. It is okay you appear to be doing something big but should as a matter of humility, identify and respect others who also have God's calling upon them. In this ministry, no man is an Island. Although John pleaded not to baptize Jesus, Jesus insisted and in the process John publicly declared the ministry of Jesus. He wasn't seeking for submission from Jesus nor was Jesus seeking submission from John. They both recognized each other's ministry, the uniqueness of what they had come to do and the timing!
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Sometimes, the emergence of a minister means consistent growth and progress for the ministry of another. John was preaching repentance and cleansing from sin, John was announcing that the Israelite had wandered away from God and baptism of John meant a public acknowledgement of one's sin and need for forgiveness and cleansing! John had at least ministered to lots of people on the need for a saviour! Lo, and behold, Jesus surfaced, the very needed saviour, the lamb for the everlasting sacrifice for sin and the one who would unite humanity with divinity, the one who has come to save the lost Israel and adopt the Gentiles as God's children too. You see, the ministry of Jesus became the gradual fulfilment of the Ministry of John, it became the very truth that John had communicated, it became the answer that those who engaged in John's baptism had sought!
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John was a relative of the human-Jesus, John was also a senior to Jesus. From earthly perspective, John was a senior to Jesus both in ministry and in age, John was also very much revered in Israel that at a point some people even thought Jesus was operating in the Spirit of John the Baptist (Matthew 16:14) because there seemed to be a kind of continuity of ministry. While John had always pointed people to the need for a saviour, Jesus came saying "I am that saviour that John preached!" In fact, Jesus started exactly with the message of John, He preached what John preached and then presented Himself as He who John had come to bear witness of! John preached "repent for the Kingdom of God is near." and Jesus continued "repent for the kingdom of God is at hand." There was continuity. Something remarkable happened the moment Jesus got baptized by John. A voice came from heaven and declared "“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” What a confirmation! Why must it happen right within the ministry of John? This was a Divine arrangement. Sometimes, people would need to mentor you and be used by God to launch you further, not because they have a calling more advanced by yours but sometimes they were sent to till the ground for you. A mentor many times isn't greater than the one he is mentoring, only few realizes this.
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There is a favorite place about the story of John and Jesus that I love so much. A time came when Jesus started baptizing people too just like John did and everyone was moving to Jesus’s baptism. The disciples of John were astonished by this and I believe they felt this was a competition! They complained to John but John said “He must increase, but I must decrease” – John 3:22-36. John came before Jesus but was not threatened by the ministry of Jesus because what ever John had done, Jesus came to advance it. Continuity in ministry means that the succeeding ministers are simply coming to advance what has been started earlier. We are not here to prove others wrong, we are not here to show how wrong others were, we are here to advance what was started, to be used by God in throwing light to shaded areas.

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I don’t know if this shows us how the ministry of God’s kingdom is to run? Jesus respected the ministry of John but John acknowledged that the latter is greater than the former. A lot of people today will never want the latter to be greater than the former, they would never want to identify with God’s calling upon you probably because you have not come to submit to them or they feel insecure about their people joining your followers! There seem to be a forgetfulness about what they have been called to do. This thing we do is not about ourselves but about Jesus and when we understand it, we will stop making it about ourselves. The Bible also made it clear that after Jesus was baptized, the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness but hold on a moment let us ask a critical question. John was already in the wilderness baptizing and Jesus must have to be in the wilderness to be baptized by John! How then was He drove into the wilderness after baptism? Well, the answer is simple. Jesus went farther into the wilderness, indicating a movement, a continuation from what John had started into its fulfillment. While in the wilderness, Jesus was on a kind of set apart, this movement started in the Spirit before it manifested physically. Sometimes God can move you in the Spirit to withdraw from the crowd first, He keeps you secluded and enrich you with capacity for the bigger responsibility. You don’t have to be everywhere seeking endorsement, people who God has sent to you will always recognize and affirm God’s power in you! Jesus was moved farther into the wilderness by the Spirit and today Jesus is still moving father to the ends of the earth through us.
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Farther in the wilderness, the devil tempted and tested Jesus! The Greek verb used in St. Marks gospel as regards the temptation is “peirazō” which doesn’t just mean to tempt but to test. You see, being driven by the Spirit doesn’t mean one can still not be tempted and tested by the devil. Sometimes, the devil wants to know who you are, he isn’t sure! The devil will always come up with things that seems right, things that doesn’t seem bad in itself. For instance, if God has called you specifically for a ministry that doesn’t require any other responsibility, the devil would come with a job offer, a job that would distract you from purpose with time, he would offer you a good church-lady who is churchly but never really the ministry-support you need. He wouldn’t come with desire to steal money or sexual immorality if he knows you have grown above those or you don’t have tendencies to do those ones. He came to Jesus asking Him to help himself out by turning stone into bread! It doesn’t look like a bad idea after all, Jesus wasn’t going to steal bread, He was just going to turn stone into bread! And look carefully, if Jesus had touched a stone in a bid to turn it into bread against God’s wish, it’d still turn into bread! Sometimes when the power of God in us is still at work it doesn’t indicate if we are getting it right or wrong! Moses had power but even in disobedience he wielded that power and it worked! Well, Jesus being the son of God wouldn’t bow to disorder! Hearkening to the devil alone to do what seem right makes it wrong anyway!
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Is this teaching you something about ministry? The devil can bring you ideas that makes you comfortable but always discern when it is God and when it is not God. You can be moved by the Spirit and still be tempted by the devil. Knowing what God want you to do is key to scaling through the tests and temptations. We can also understand that where the first Adam couldn’t stay faithful, Jesus was faithful! Hence, Jesus was ready for the ministry, ready to deliver man from what started with the first Adam.
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There is something else I’d like to point out and it might take us back to the ministry of John. John was baptizing sinners who acknowledge their need for a saviour. Why would Jesus go to be baptized by John? Does that mean Jesus was identifying Himself as a sinner? I’d like to say here that Jesus knew why He came to earth! He came to identify with our sins even though He was without sin. As being without sin, He would be able to die on our behalf since He isn’t dying for His own sins. In this way, Jesus acknowledged on our behalf that we needed a saviour!
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Let’s get our gaze focused on the narrative of Jesus and John once again. Mark didn’t try to bore us with long details, he carefully made available a summary that contains exactly the details we will need. Jesus started His ministry in the private, the Spirit drove Him farther into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days. But something important happened immediately John was arrested, the forceful withdrawal of John introduced the ministry of Jesus officially to the public. John was put into prison and Jesus went into Galilee! Why Galilee? Herod who arrested John was the ruler of Galilee at that time and Mathew in 14:2 reported Herod to have wondered “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.” It was a daring move by Jesus moving into the very same city where the arrester of John reigns to proclaim a continuity of the message John had preached. This indicates that Jesus didn’t just start-up a new ministry, He carried on the ministry of John as it progressed. This is a play out of continuity. I believe the message of Jesus didn’t sound less “fire!” than that of John. I believe it came with energy, charisma and passion and I imagine what Herod Antipas would have wondered when Jesus came into that city without fear and preached that a different Kingdom; the kingdom of a Most High is at hand! That didn’t just sound like a message, it sounded like a warning! Remember, Jesus didn’t come out of anywhere, He came out to the public from the private and what He did in the private was as important as what He was beginning to do in the public. Sometimes, you need to shut off from distractions and go indoors to devote your time in seeking clarity towards your calling. The private place is where strength is molded, this where capacity is build, it is a place of ignition! Where was considered a red zone for ministry at the time of John’s arrest, Jesus considered it a starting point for public ministry. This isn’t like Jesus wasn’t sure of His calling but Jesus leaving His divine privileges aside acted human. He presented Himself as God’s kingdom which John had always preached was near and after John’s arrest, Jesus announced that the Kingdom wasn’t just near any longer, that Kingdom was “at hand!” The Kingdom is come!
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John was open for the coming of one greater than Him. Every sincere minister of God’s kingdom is always prepared for the coming of one who is greater, we do not desire to be the most famous, we do not desire the be the most known! It is not about us but about Jesus and Jesus modeled humility in ministry for us. Jesus was not ignorant of His anointing when He came to John and John was not puffed up to feel insecure! John understood that it was important that Jesus come, the coming of Jesus meant the progression of ministry. John was not the “no one ever will be better than I am” kind of minister. It is a great privilege to be called into ministry and we do the bidding of God with so much reverence and humility, with so much passion and open heart for the greater move of God! We heard of Peter’s 3000 soul winning in the Bible but we also hear of Reinhard Bonnke’s millions of soul winning in one event! God is not retrogressive, He is progressive! John went into the wilderness but Jesus went into the wilderness of the wilderness! John preached repentance from sin and Jesus came as the embodiment of God’s forgiveness of sin! Jesus did amazing miracles but Jesus said we would do more! Peter and the Apostles did amazing miracles and knew we would do more! Why will some of us now think God’s power and gifting is exhausted in them? God keeps raising men, sometimes they appear weak, fragile, younger and even less experienced but they are earthen vessels carrying the very power of God! They are “firebrand!”
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Believe me, greater things will happen, God will use ordinary and common men to still turn this world upside down like has never been done before. Another kind of revival is sweeping across the earth! It may not look like what Jesus did in His days, it may not look like what Peter and Paul did, it may not be like what Bonnke did! It will look like the miracles of this age but will have a consistent line of connection to the same ancient gospel! There was a time stopping the killing of twins was an amazing miracle in Africa, something greater will happen! The Ministry of God is progressive and Jesus said the Church will march on and He is the one building His Church. We must do ministry with every sense of humility and reverence to God. The calling into ministry in itself should be a piercing to every sense of pride! Sometimes, we should cry in our closet and say “Lord, who am I that you are mindful of me?” John and Jesus was not in a competition, there was a continuity of purpose because there was an understanding that it was a business of saving this world from the shackles of sin! This is where ministry begins.
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From that same point, Jesus called His disciples and started working miracles all over Galilee! This was another shaking moment for Herod! The gates of hell shall not prevail! They are not just shaken, they are pulled off! This is BreakOut!
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Blessings!
I am George O.N
The Man-In-God
#GracefulGeorge