Matthew 4:23-25 (ESV)
23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
I was reading in Matthew the other day and the above passage really struck me. There is so much to learn in these few verses, it is incredible how much wisdom is packed away in just 3 verses of the Bible.
The first thing we see is that Jesus in the beginning of His ministry was in fact preaching the Gospel. Notice Jesus is teaching “in their synagogues”, He was not teaching in homes, in other words Jesus was teaching out in the open…in public for all to hear. Some; like the Pharisees and others who taught the Gnostic gospels were in the habit of teaching in private thereby having more control and influence without other voices to gain-say them. The cue for us here is that we should boldly proclaim the Gospel in the light of day, not whisper it in a dark corner like a beaten and whipped cur.
The text also tells us that Jesus proclaimed “the gospel of the kingdom”. Interesting phrase there don’t you think? In the Greek, kingdom is translated from the Greek word βασιλεία; transliteration basileia, meaning: kingship, sovereignty, authority, rule, especially of God, both in the world, and in the hearts of men; hence: kingdom, in the concrete sense.
ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν, only in Matthew, but very frequently (some 33 times), the kingdom of heaven, i. e. the kingdom which is of heavenly or divine origin and nature (in rabbinical writings שָׁמַיִם מַלְכוּת is the rule of God, the theocracy viewed universally, not the Messianic kingdom); sometimes simply ἡ βασιλεία: Matthew 4:23
So Jesus is proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, the kingdom whether it is spiritual or the physical kingdom yet to come, is of divine origin. Then the gospel of which Jesus is teaching must also be of divine origin. So, it also stands to reason then that because many New Testament authors were with Jesus and heard Him speak, the words they wrote were not their own, but merely a God given paraphrase of God’s own words through Christ.
It is ironic in a sense that the One to Whom the kingdom belongs, the One that originated the Kingdom of God was here in bodily form proclaiming it to the people! This should demonstrate to us how important it is to God that we know and understand His Word. The Bible is not and was never intended to be something we look at and hear about from the pulpit once a week. Rather the Word of God was and is to be studied each day.
Joshua 1:8 (KJV) This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Then we see that Jesus was, “healing every disease and every affliction”, what can we learn from this? Jesus very name establishes that He is God but I will not go into that here. Jesus was healing all diseases and afflictions; this is divine in nature. The prophets of old could perform healings as well, but remember their power to do so came directly from God; the Holy Spirit was not yet given to the many. In a way it could be said that Jesus power to heal came from God as well, Jesus called on the power of the Holy Spirit when He did things. So Jesus graciously healed all the people who asked, it is inferred here that all includes those that were not of the kingdom. What better way to witness to the people then to heal them! Jesus was not only teaching the Word of God, He was healing people of their maladies.
Twice in these few verses we are told that Jesus was healing all the people of all things, including those possessed by demons. It is being stressed here what Jesus was capable of, anytime we see repetition in the Scriptures; this is like a note to us to pay attention. The Bible is saying here that Jesus was divine; He could heal all people of all things…who else could do that? Later on Peter and Paul in particular could do all these things as well, but again…from Whom did they receive this power to do so? Jesus Christ. As we read through the Gospels, step by step we are shown that Jesus was master of all things, here we see that any affliction of the body, or of the mind must come under the dominion of Christ. Later we are shown that all manner of things including even the weather are subject to the power of Jesus.
And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
So people from the better part of the known world were following after Jesus…why? Some undoubtedly followed Him because they understood that He was God. Most at this point were following Him because of what was done for them or could be done for them. It is also reasonable to assume many followed Him so as to be near the seat of power, it would have seemed that this “person” was in a position to inherit a powerful position. All people by nature are drawn to a person of power, one who has a presence, especially someone who produced the miracles that Christ accomplished. All these reasons accept the first one are false reasons to follow Christ.
It should be noted as well that while Christ was teaching the Word, He was according to the text not yet making demands so to speak. Later on when Jesus is teaching and also speaking to the Pharisees, much more was said. Remember that many followed Him in the beginning because of the things He was doing, not because of true faith in Christ. So when Jesus began to expound on the requirements of entering the kingdom, and of what being a disciple of Christ (authentic follower of God) people began to fall away. By the time Jesus taught on Himself being the Bread of Life (John 6:53 (KJV) Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.) most of his disciples fell by the wayside, and He even questioned the Twelve who responded correctly that Jesus possessed the words of life.
This passage is also a precursor to what is happening today, and in fact has happened all throughout Church history. At first glance Jesus and His promises sound good. When people begin to realize that those promises are conditional, that they come with some serious expectations, then the people begin to fall by the wayside.
Many more today will fall away on account of Jesus teachings being “to hard” to accept.
John 6:40 (KJV) And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
- Be God-centered (vineoflife.net)
- A Public Sensation (faithfuldailyread.wordpress.com)
- The American Evangelical “Christian” denial of the bodily resurrection (ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com)
- The All-Encompassing Kingdom (macdumcum.com)
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>> “Many more today will fall away on account of Jesus’ teachings being “too hard” to accept”
I agree many find Jesus’ teachings too hard to accept, and in many instances, these are people who have accepted the preaching of “easy-believism” . . . ‘just ask Jesus into your life and you are saved’ with no mention of sin, the necessity of a Saviour or of repentance and a new life lived under the Lordship of Christ.
I have counselled too many who said they were saved, but when questioned, could only say “my pastor/mother/friend told me I’m saved because I asked Jesus into my heart when I was six years old” or “I prayed a prayer at the front of the Church” or “I put up my hand to believe in Jesus” or “I signed a pledge card” or . . . They have NO understanding of the seriousness of sin.
I guess someone ‘on the outside’ would think that to die to self is “too hard” but every blood-bought, adopted child of the living God should stand up and shout out that it is an abundant life of peace, joy, satisfaction and fulfilment.
We serve an incredibly amazing God who delights to shower us with His blessings as we submit to Him.
Well said, I would that many would read this and acquire an understanding of how these things really work.
Greg, Having been to Israel, I can truly visualize Jesus ministering in the synagogues and outside, healing the sick during the hot days and cooler evenings. It really took compassion, which we must need when we too minster to the people we want to reach for Jesus, with His gospel. Not only does following Jesus call for self sacrifice and leaving the things our carnal tendencies would tempt us with, we need perseverance, surrender to His Lordship and His strength to overcome. It is too much on our own sustenance it must be with the Holy Spirit empowerment. May we follow the Lord’s example as we choose to serve our Living Lord and Savior till His kingdom come or we are called home.
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