WAS CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY AN “EPIC FAILURE?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
It is extremely easy for some to conclude Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry was an “epic failure.” After all, consider the many awful, adverse incidents that highlight it.
THE TRAGEDY, PART I: ABOUNDING INSULTS
Various and sundry insults were directed toward the Lord Jesus Christ, including the following:
- DECEIVER: “Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again” (Matthew 27:63). “And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people” (John 7:12).
- CRAZY: “And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself [insane]” (Mark 3:20-21). “And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad [lunatic]; why hear ye him?” (John 10:20).
- BLASPHEMER: “And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth” (Matthew 9:3; cf. Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21). “Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy” (Matthew 26:65; cf. Mark 14:64).
- DEVIL-POSSESSED: “And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub [Satan], and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils…. Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit” (Mark 3:22,30; cf. Matthew 12:24). “But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils” (Luke 11:15). “Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” (John 8:48). “And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?” (John 10:20).
- BASTARD/ILLEGITIMATE: “…Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41). These unbelievers insinuated Mary, Jesus’ mother, was a harlot. Here is an outright denial of Christ’s virgin conception and incarnation!
- SAMARITAN (APOSTATE, DEVIL WORSHIPPER): “Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” (John 8:48).
- A MAN NOT OF GOD: “Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them” (John 9:16).
- SINNER: “Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner” (John 9:24).
THE TRAGEDY, PART II: INCREASING OPPOSITION
Antagonism towards the Lord Jesus Christ increased during His earthly ministry, culminating at Calvary’s cross:
- He was nearly murdered at the beginning of His ministry, Nazareth trying to throw Him headfirst off a cliff (Luke 4:28-30)!
- He was rejected, unable to find a home where He could settle down: “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20; cf. Luke 9:58).
- He was almost stoned to death at least three times (John 5:15-18 [cf. John 7:1]; John 8:59; John 10:31).
- He was asked to leave the area after performing a miracle: “And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts” (Matthew 8:34; cf. Mark 5:17; Luke 8:37).
- He was laughed at: “He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn” (Matthew 9:24; Mark 5:40; Luke 8:53).
- He was complained about or unappreciated: “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?” (John 6:41-42). Here is another blatant denial of His virgin conception and incarnation!
- Despite His miracles, whole cities did not believe Him (Matthew 11:20-24; Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6; Luke 10:13-16).
- He was abandoned by many of His disciples/students: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66).
- He was conspired against: “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him” (Matthew 12:14). “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him” (Mark 3:6). “And they were filled with madness [spiritual lunacy!]; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:11). See also the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19). Also, read John 11:47-53.
- He was asked three captious or trick questions in unsuccessful attempts to make Him look foolish before the crowds assembled in the Jerusalem Temple (Matthew 22:15-40; Mark 12:13-34; Luke 20:20-40).
- He was betrayed by His most trusted Apostle, Judas Iscariot (Matthew 26:47-50; Mark 14:43-46; Luke 22:47-48).
- He was illegally (!) tried before High Priest Annas, High Priest Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court), Roman Governor of Judaea Pontius Pilate, King Herod of Galilee, and finally Pilate a second time. To say the least, the Lord Jesus Christ was verbally and physically abused and denied a fair trial from start to finish. See Matthew 26:57–27:31, Mark 14:53–15:20, Luke 22:54–23:25, and John 18:12–19:16.
- He was blasphemed during His trial: “And many other things blasphemously spake they against him” (Luke 22:65).
- He was denied three times by His chief Apostle of Israel, Peter (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18,25-27).
- Ultimately, He died by crucifixion on a cruel Roman cross—the mode of execution reserved for the worst criminals! “And they crucified him” (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:25; Luke 23:33; John 19:18). For more on His sufferings, see also (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22), (Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:43-45), and (Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:33-34; Luke 18:31-33).
- Indeed, Jesus Christ came to be Israel’s Messiah-King-Redeemer, but they wanted no part of Him. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15).
- “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him” (John 12:37-41).
THE TRIUMPH, PART I: HE GAVE HIS FATHER’S WORD, FORMING A BELIEVING REMNANT
Overall, here is what we must understand about the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry:
- HE WAS A LIGHT, A FULFILLMENT OF BIBLE PROPHECY, TO WHICH SOME RESPONDED IN FAITH: “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:….” (John 1:9-12). Also see Matthew 4:12-17, which is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 9.
- HE TAUGHT THE HEBREW BIBLE, PREACHED THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM, AND HEALED EVERY SICKNESS AND EVERY DISEASE TO CONFIRM THE GOOD NEWS OF THAT KINGDOM: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23). “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9:35). Other references are Mark 1:22, Mark 6:34, Luke 4:15-21, Luke 4:43-44, Luke 8:1, and Luke 9:6. Also see Isaiah 35:3-5 and Isaiah 61:1-2.
- HIS PREACHING AND MIRACLE-WORKING FORMED A BELIEVING REMNANT: “And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?” (John 7:31). “As he spake these words, many believed on him” (John 8:30). “And many believed on him there” (John 10:42). “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him” (John 11:45). “Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus…. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:…” (John 12:11,42). See also Peter’s profession of faith in Matthew 16:13-16, Mark 8:27-29, Luke 9:18-20, and John 6:68-69.
- HE GAVE HIS FATHER’S WORDS TO A BELIEVING REMNANT IN ISRAEL: “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do…. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word…. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me…. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:4,6,8,26). See also Matthew 11:25-27 and Luke 10:21-22.
- HE WAS FATHER GOD’S REPRESENTATIVE TO ISRAEL, SLAIN BUT RESURRECTED: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:22-24). Also see Acts 10:37-40.
THE TRIUMPH, PART II: HE GAVE HIS OWN LIFE, REDEEMING A BELIEVING REMNANT
Overall, here is what we must also understand about the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry:
- HE BECAME A MAN TO DIE AND SHED HIS BLOOD IN ACCORDANCE WITH HIS HEAVENLY FATHER’S PLAN, ALLOWING THE RATIFICATION OF THE NEW COVENANT: “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first [covenant], that he may establish the second [covenant]” (Hebrews 10:5-9; cf. Psalm 40:6-8). See Hebrews 8–10 in entirety.
- HIS DEATH WAS FULFILLMENT OF BIBLE PROPHECY, AS WAS HIS RESURRECTION: “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled” (Acts 3:13-18). Also see Luke 24:44-47.
- HE SHED HIS SINLESS BLOOD TO PAY FOR ISRAEL’S SINS: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). “And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many” (Mark 14:24). “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20).
- HE SHED HIS SINLESS BLOOD TO PAY FOR OUR SINS TOO: “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:.…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “In whom [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;…” (Ephesians 1:7). “In whom [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:…” (Colossians 1:14). “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time [Paul’s ministry]. Whereunto I [Paul] am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity” (1 Timothy 2:5-7).
- HIS MINISTRY MAKES EVERYONE WITHOUT EXCUSE: “Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak” (John 12:44-50).
No, absolutely not! Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry was not an “epic failure.” It was not a “failure” at all. Yes, He was rejected, and, yes, He was murdered. However, Bible prophecy was fulfilled, and He preached His Father’s words and thus formed a believing remnant in Israel. In God’s infinite wisdom, Christ’s sinless blood shed on Calvary’s cross is the means whereby Israel will be redeemed and we the Church the Body of Christ are redeemed, these two agencies thus qualified to serve in the offices of government in Earth (Israel) and Heaven (Body of Christ) throughout the endless ages to come.
“[Father God] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:…” (Ephesians 1:9-10).
“For by him [the Son, Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:16-20).
Just remember, fellow saints: the Lord Jesus Christ is alive and will reign as King one day, when the prophetic program resumes after our mystery program has finished. One more thing: If it is truly sound Bible doctrine working in us, if it is really the Lord Jesus Christ living in us via the indwelling Holy Spirit, no matter how “rough” or “hopeless” it seems (remember the aforementioned tragedies), neither will our ministry be an “epic failure!”
Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂
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