Image: Ruins of a first century synagogue in Galilee (Northern Israel), discovered in 2016. Did the Lord Jesus ever teach here?
Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 4:23-25.
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 diseases among the people (Matthew 4:23).
First, Christ came as a teacher. He came to bring knowledge of God’s will, of God’s law, of God’s Spirit, and knowledge simply of God himself. He taught the woman at the well, “God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
Christ was called by the title of “Teacher” throughout his ministry, both by his disciples and his detractors (cf. Matt 8:19; 9:11; 12:38; 17:24; 19:16; 22:16, 24, 36; 23:8; 26:18).
This is a reminder that the Christian faith involves knowledge, the mind and the intellect. Christ will teach that you should love God “with all thy mind” (Matt 22:37; cf. Rom 12:2).
One wag has said that an “open mind” is like an open mouth; if it never clamps down on something of substance it will starve to death.
Geerhardus Vos is reported to have said, “Theology is a means of grace.” God is not only pleased when we think rightly about him, but he also uses our thinking or theologizing about him as a means to prosper us spiritually.
Second, Christ came as a preacher. Matthew says he came “preaching [kerusso] the gospel of the kingdom.” Christ came as a herald of the gospel (the good news) of the kingdom (the rule and reign of God).
Mathew had already described the early preaching ministry of Christ as a call to repentance and an announcement that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (4:17; cf. 3:12).
What gospel did Christ proclaim? His death, burial, resurrection, and resurrection appearances (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-5). He preached the gospel even before he went to the cross (see Matt 16:21)!
Third, Christ came as a healer: He came “healing all manner of diseases sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”
The statement is proven out by the Gospel accounts. He healed those with leprosy, with fevers, with withered hands, with paralysis, with blindness, with issues of blood, those unable to speak, those tormented by evil spirits. He even raised men from the dead.
These miracles (and others in which he demonstrated his power over nature itself, by turning water into wine, stilling storms, walking on waves, feeding five thousand, etc.) all show or demonstrate his authority over all things.
This was Christ’s threefold ministry at his first advent, and this ministry continues in the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:27) in this present age. We are called to teach God’s Word (cf. Matt 28:20); to preach the gospel (cf. 2 Tim 4:1-5); and to be agents of his healing (cf. James 5:13-16).
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle