Teaching, Preaching and Healing
April 9, 2000
Now that he has gathered his first disciples, he gains more simply by doing the work he
was sent to do. His ministry at this point surrounds the region of Galilee, i.e., the
Northwestern portion of Israel. And we want to note what his ministry consisted of and the
response of those who either heard him or heard of him.
- First of all, Jesus' ministry consisted of teaching, preaching and healing. (23)
- These three activities were his chief occupations in public ministry. Think of what
- He was teaching in their synagogues. What was a synagogue service like?
We have some insight in two New Testament passages: Luke 4:16-21, where Jesus began to
teach about his own ministry. We also have Acts 13:15ff, where Paul used the invitation
to speak as an opportunity to preach the gospel based upon the history of Israel. In the
service, a reading from the Law and the Prophets, which followed prayers, would be followed
by a distinguished Rabbi, either resident or visiting, being invited to teach concerning a
point of the Law or the Prophets. He would read a text and explain and apply it. This is
what Jesus evidently did. And the traditions of the synagogue required that the teacher be
attractive in his appearance and presentation, as well as intelligent and godly. Interestingly
enough, such a teacher did not have to be ordained. And his message was to be tactful and not
too personal. That Jesus taught often in the synagogues of the land, tells us that he was a
welcome teacher and respected. No wonder he was referred to as "Rabbi."
- The text tells us that he also was actively preaching the Gospel/good news of the
Kingdom. You are of course aware that the word, gospel, means good news.
And the substance of the gospel is given in verse 22, to wit that the Kingdom of Heaven was
near. It is referred to elsewhere as the gospel of peace (Rom 10:15), the gospel of Jesus
Christ (2 Cor 9:13), and its message was simply that the Kingdom of Heaven had come. To the
Jews this would be good news, as it would mean that the Lord was announcing the reign of
Messiah (Isa 9:6,7) and peace between Himself and Israel (Isa 52:7). God had come to rule and
thus to show his love and concern for his people. And that is the essence of the gospel.
- We want to be careful not to distinguish too closely between teaching and preaching,
though, because he did both at the same time, cf. the next three chapters. Teaching
would emphasize a systematic presentation of the truth. Preaching or proclamation
would emphasize declaration of the truth, as opposed to giving a systematic presentation of it. In his teaching he gave the details of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.
- Finally, and this is what usually catches our attention most in this passage, he healed
the sick. The text says, he healed (literally) all chronic diseases and all occasional
sicknesses among the people. The word, all, would place him in different category
from other healers that were also going about the land. Perhaps the word would best
be translated as the NIV does, every, because not all in the nation were healed. These
other healers did not heal every case. They had their successes and their failures, but
Jesus healed every disease he came into contact with, with no failures. The question
needs to be asked, though, why? What did healing have to do with the gospel and
salvation? The answer lies in the curse placed upon man after the fall, in Genesis
2:17; 3:19. Sickness and death, physical as well as spiritual, were the punishment for
Adam eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In healing
the sick, Jesus was demonstrating in a tangible way the power of God for salvation.
His identity an authority as the Son of God was established, for he is the embodiment
of Malachi's prophecy that The sun of righteousness shall arise, with healing in his
wings. (Mal 4:2). The physical healing Jesus gave was an outward symbol of the
heart and soul healing he had come to bring with the forgiveness of sins. It was also a
sign of the kingdom. God's rule had come and one evidence of it was the healing
given to men. Witness his words to the paralytic and others, when they came for
healing, Your sins are forgiven.
- Notice how these three ministries are tied together. What ties them together is the
Kingdom of Heaven. The public teaching of Jesus focused upon the grace of God in
coming to rule over his people and show his love and concern for them as their King.
The healings were a tangible, easy to understand demonstration of the truth and power of
the Kingdom. Jesus did not simply heal for the sake of making people feel better or
improve their quality of life. Rather, those who were healed had an obligation to worship
and serve the Lord, even to repent-cf. John 5:1-14. That is why, when Jesus preached he
proclaimed the message that he did, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. This is
an important point, one that is missed by some in the healing movement in Pentecostal
Church circles. We are mistaken if we separate healing from the gospel's message and
focus on it or any other miraculous part of the gospel instead of on the Kingdom of God.
- We see here the power, mercy and holistic redemption of Jesus.
- We see his power. There is nothing beyond his authority. He commands even the
incurable illness, and it is done, the afflicted one must be healed. What power then
his word of command must have for even the most depraved soul. He heals the soul
by the spiritual healing power of his gospel just as surely as he heals the body by his
divine power. There are none beyond the reach of the King of the Kingdom of
heaven, none beyond the salvation of Jesus.
- We see his mercy. By his healing, no less than by his preaching, he wanted to show
the people he ministered to that he meant well by them. With cords of loving
kindness does the Saviour woo and attract sinners to himself. Jesus does not first of
all proclaim wrath to sinners, but divine mercy and love. And he would show that
same mercy to you as you sit her this day, if only you will come to him.
- Finally, there is his holistic redemption. In healing bodily and mental illnesses,
Jesus showed that he came to deal not only with sin but its deadly effects. Every ill in the
world is traceable to the fall of Adam and the guilt he passed on to all his children, all
of us. Some have believed that Jesus is only concerned with the spiritual aspect of
our lives, but it is not so. He saves the soul and brings forgiveness of sins, yes, but
then he also is concerned to see healing in our relationships with others around us. As
the psalmist puts it, he heals all our diseases and forgives all our iniquities. Is your
life broken because of sin? He can heal that brokenness and there is nothing you are
or have done that he cannot make right. That is not to say you will have no more
sorrow or pain or deadly illness, or that there will be no more consequences for any
sins you have hurt others with, but he will heal you and your life to the degree needed
in order to make you a useful and productive member of his body. Bring your sin to
Jesus for pardon and bring your pain to him for healing.
- In his teaching, preaching and healing, Jesus was showing the largeness of his heart and
the great scope of his Kingdom. There is no need you and I can have that will not be
met by the power of his teaching, preaching, and healing, no harm done by sin that
cannot be undone by the power of the kingdom as it is ministered to us by Christ.
- In the second place we note the response to his ministry (24-25).
- It was a two fold response: The text says the report of him went out as far as Syria
northeast of Jesus location and not a short distance away. There were two responses.
- The first we will call the physical benefits response. Not surprisingly, people came
in droves to be healed. And they brought those afflicted with a variety of illnesses--
various kinds of chronic diseases and pains, the demon possessed, the insane the NIV
and NKJV refer to seizures and epilepsy, but the word means, affected by the moon,
and seems best translated as insane), and paralyzed. And the text says he healed them
all. We see another effect of his ministry of healing, it gathered the crowds to hear
his preaching. The healing got their attention and that prepared them to give the
second response to his ministry.
- The second response to his ministry was the discipleship response. While some only
followed Jesus to be healed and see miracles, there were others who went beyond
seeking physical healing and now sought spiritual healing. And you see how many
different parts of the country they came from, north and south, east and west. There
were both Jews and Gentiles. And the text says they followed him. The word we
translate as followed has the sense to it that these people became willing and obedient
disciples who followed their teacher as those who learn from him and serve him. And
this was not an unusual thing. John the Baptist had the same kind of following. But
Jesus's following, we will learn as we go on, became large. By the way, this shows us
that the original 12 were part of a larger group that Jesus set apart to be with him
wherever he went. The others did not go around the country, for the most part,
though many probably did in addition to the twelve.
- No one who comes into contact with Jesus ever remains unchanged. The sick were
healed and those who went further with him became his disciples. Yet we will learn that
others were hardened against him, among the chief of them being the Pharisees, Sadducees, the
priests and, of course, Judas. None of them remained neutral, and no one could.
How could anyone read or hear of his teaching and preaching and be neutral? How could
you hear or experience his healing, and not care about him, one way or another. We read
of the paralyzed man healed in John 5, that he went to the Jews who had rebuked him for
carrying his bed that it was Jesus who told him to violate the Sabbath. What base
ingratitude! But you see, he responded to Jesus, and none can remain unresponsive.
- You must determine this day what you will do with Jesus.
- You who claim to be believers. What will you do with the Jesus you profess to
believe in and love. Will you obey him? Will you go where he sends you? Will you
make his Word your rule for faith and life? Will you study his Word and pray each
day to him for guidance as you serve him? Or will you, resenting his claim upon you
as Judas did and because he does not do what you expect or want him to do, will you
turn away and betray him? A Christian is by definition suppose to be a disciple, one
who follows after, loves and serves Jesus as his or her teacher and Lord, and does so
on his terms. Measure yourself by this standard and see if you are indeed a Christian.
- As for you who are not believers. This day the gospel shows you a kind and merciful,
as well as powerful Saviour. What will you do with him? Will you take your sin and
all the harm it has done to him and find in him a complete salvation? He will
welcome you if you do that. Or will you turn away and say you do not need him?
The choice is yours.
You cannot be neutral about Jesus. Either you will trust in him or you will not. Either you
will serve him as a loyal disciple or you will serve the world, the flesh and the devil. Either you
will be saved by him or you will be condemned by him. What will you do with Jesus?
Rev. Arthur J. Fox, Pastor
10 Spruce Street
Middletown, PA 17057