March 21, 2016
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis,Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
News about him spread all over Syria
Imagine if that happened today. What if news spread about him all over America? What if news spread about him all over your town or mine? Here’s what it would take:
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
The mission and ministry of Jesus can be summarized in three words: Teaching, Proclaiming, Healing. Let’s address each briefly.
Teaching. We have all grown up in, been shaped by and consequently de-formed by the kingdoms of the world. We are born into the sin-sick mind of Adam. We have learned the golden rule of the world: the one who has the gold makes the rules. We have learned the world’s ethos: the survival of the fittest. We have thoroughly learned the ways of worldly power and the power of worldly wealth. We have been steeped in the mentality of scarcity and all the self interested deception that comes along with it.
In other words, we have a lot of un-learning to do. This is why Jesus teaching strikes us as so counter-intuitive. It’s almost exactly the opposite of the way we have been trained to think and transact life in the world. The word, disciple, comes from the Greek word, “mathetes,” which means a learner. Jesus teaches not only his disciples but anyone who will come near and listen. We will see this at work prominently in Matthew’s Gospel with the five distinct teaching discourses. We begin with #1 tomorrow. Teaching is so critical because it breaks down the barriers of ignorance and erodes the strongholds of worldly wisdom. The teaching of Jesus, which is the wisdom of God, confronts the wisdom of the world not so much by frontal attack as through a counter-insurgent style of subversion.
Proclamation. When Jesus says, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near,” this is proclamation. When we encounter teaching, we sit down and take notes. With preaching or proclamation we lean forward. It’s not so much a moment to remember for later but to completely attune to in the moment. Proclamation is personal and often palpable encounter with the good news of the kingdom. Proclamation, in a different way than teaching, is Holy Spirit empowered speech. It doesn’t necessarily mean shouting, though it can. You know proclamation when you hear it. It carries an anointing of authority unlike your average Ted Talk. Proclamation doesn’t settle for a good “impression.” It presses for deep impact.
Healing. [P]eople brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. This is perhaps where we in the North American church are most challenged. We are the most medicated generations of people in human history. I don’t mean to eschew medication, and I certainly don’t advocate for some form of Christian Science, but don’t you think the pendulum may have swung too far. Sure, we understand the professional work of doctors can be an expression of the healing ministry of Jesus, but do we really believe or are we just paying lip service? Do you really believe in the power of Jesus to heal today? I do and yet I don’t. I think most of our present day suburban churches reflect our own faith which might best be framed with the words, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”
The most fascinating thing is the way these three primary movements of the Kingdom of God interact and interdepend on one another. If there’s a dearth of healing it can usually be connected to a failure of teaching or proclamation. With sound teaching and bold proclamation comes powerful healing expressions of the Gospel. Here’s the kicker. Where either teaching, proclamation or healing is missing in the ministry of a local expression of the Body of Christ, chances are they are all missing.
I guess what I’m most driving at in today’s post is this normative statement: As it was with Jesus then, so it is with the Church now. Teaching, Proclamation, Healing, people of God—that’s our work. Let’s do it. This is the Church Jesus is leading and advancing. Are we part of that Church or are we doing something else?
1. How are you presently submitting yourself to sound teaching? What difference is it making?
2. When was the last time you experienced the proclamation of the good news of the Kingdom? What was that like?
3. How about healing? Do you believe the kind of healing ministry Jesus practiced on earth is still possible today? Why or why not? How open are you to this kind of reality?
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.