Jesus' Public Ministry

Discovery for Students

Jesus' Public Ministry


Luke 4:14 through 11:54

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)


This portion of the Gospel of Luke covers Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and the beginning of His ministry in Perea, the territory east of the Jordan River. Jesus used Capernaum as His home base, but He travelled into many of the cities and villages in the region, teaching, preaching, and healing as He went. During this period Jesus called the twelve disciples who would be instrumental in helping to establish His church, and commissioned seventy followers to proclaim the Kingdom of God throughout Israel. In addition to His public ministry, Jesus spent time alone with His disciples, revealing to them His mission as the Savior of the world, His coming death, and the cost of true discipleship.

At times, Jesus’ teaching took place in Jewish synagogues. During the years of Israel’s exile when there was no Temple, synagogues were established as places of worship and as schools for young boys; a synagogue could be built in any town where ten or more Jewish families lived. It was customary for Jewish people to gather there on the Sabbath to hear the Scriptures expounded, and that practice continued even after the Temple was rebuilt. A visiting rabbi sometimes was invited to read from the Scriptures and teach, and Jesus availed Himself of that opportunity on a number of occasions.

As Jesus’ fame spread throughout the area, He began to preach and teach in locations other than the synagogues. Luke states that He ministered in homes, by the seashore, as He traveled between various places, on the plains, at city gates, and in desert areas. Luke also mentions occasions when Jesus withdrew from the crowds for time alone in prayer, and spent time privately with His closest followers.

In these chapters, Luke’s description of Jesus’ ministry emphasizes the complete well-being or wholeness that Christ came to bring. He healed sick bodies but also delivered from sin. He had compassion for the hungry people in the wilderness, as well as for the spiritual hunger of penitent sinners. He set free the demon-possessed, and raised the dead. By word and deed, Jesus showed love and compassion, regardless of nationality, gender, age, wealth, or station in life.


  1. In our focus verses, Luke 4:18-19, Jesus explained the purpose of His ministry on earth. What did Jesus say He was sent to accomplish? Why were these things needful for the human family?
  2. After describing the purpose of His ministry by reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21), what did Jesus mean when He said, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears”? What was the response of the people to His statement?
  3. We read in Luke 5:16 that Jesus withdrew into the wilderness to pray. A little later, before selecting His disciples, Jesus went to a mountainous region, and this time prayed all night (Luke 6:12). What was the value in removing Himself from others in order to spend time alone with God? Why do you think He did this?
  4. In chapter 5 we read that Jesus taught the people from Simon Peter’s boat which had been rowed a distance away from the shore. Afterward, He instructed Simon to launch out into deeper water and lower his nets. Simon Peter had fished all night and caught nothing, yet he did as he was told. What qualities did Simon exhibit by his response, and what were the results? What would be a formula for victory using this account? Luke 5:1-11
  5. Luke records frequent occasions when the Pharisees or teachers of the Law exhibited condemning attitudes toward Jesus. Chapter 6 provides two examples of them finding fault: when Jesus allowed His disciples to pick corn to eat on the Sabbath (verses 1-5), and when He healed a man’s hand on the Sabbath (verses 6-11). Jesus saw the hypocrisy of the Pharisees’ hearts, and responded that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (verse 5). What did He mean by that statement?
  6. In chapter 8, verses 4-18, Jesus gave the parable of the four soils to illustrate spiritual receptivity. While emphasis is often placed on the variety of soil in this parable, we should also consider the seed itself. What does the seed represent? What are some conclusions we can draw about sowing the seed that are applicable to our day?
  7. Luke 8:22-25 tells of a fierce storm which occurred on the Sea of Galilee. The disciples, who were traveling across that body of water at the time, were afraid. Fear is a normal human reaction when we face alarming circumstances. Yet after calming the storm, Jesus challenged the disciples by asking them, “Where is your faith?” What can we do to retain our faith when faced with fear-inducing circumstances?
  8. On two occasions recounted in chapter 9, Jesus warned His disciples about His impending death (Luke 9:21-27,44-45). He also stated that following Him would not always be easy. It would necessitate a life of self-denial and there would be a cross to carry. How can Jesus’ admonition in Luke 9:23 be fulfilled in today’s world?
  9. In chapter 10, a lawyer attempted to involve Jesus in a typical Jewish dispute over fine points of the Law by asking what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded by validating the concept of loving God and loving our neighbors (verse 27). When the lawyer pressed further, asking, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan. We can all relate to this story as we all encounter people to whom we should reach out in compassion. What are some ways we can minister to the needs of others?
  10. When Jesus was a guest in Martha’s home, her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet in worship and communion with Him. Martha was attempting to minister to Jesus through acts of hospitality, and she complained that Mary did not help her (Luke 10:38-42). However, Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better part. What does this account teach us about priorities?


Jesus taught His followers that love was the rule by which men are to live, and He lived what He taught when He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and delivered those in bondage. He commissioned His followers to follow His example by proclaiming the Kingdom of God in word and deed.