Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease and sickness among the people.
(Matthew 4:23 ESV)
We are currently studying Matthew’s account of Jesus’ early ministry. We previously learned that Jesus began His ministry in Galilee, an area north of the Sea of Galilee known for being open-minded to new ideas. This was probably due to its international flavor, being a crossroads for trade between Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Jesus came to earth from heaven to save people from the penalty of our sins [John 3:17, Philippians 2:5-8]. That salvation comes from hearing and believing [Romans 10:17]. So for people to believe Jesus they had to hear what He had to say and He had to prove that He had the authority and ability to save. Jesus had to prove that He was God and He did this through His words and works.
To that end Jesus went throughout all of Galilee. He did not stay in one place. He went to the very place where people would be – their synagogues where He was teaching. The word “synagogue” means gathering place. Jesus went to where people were already gathered.
Jesus also [preached] the gospel. While teaching involves two-way communication (e.g. questions and answers), preaching is more of a unilateral proclamation. Jesus told people the truth, then answered their questions about it.
This is exactly how evangelism should still be done. Christians need to tell our family, friends, and coworkers the good news (which is what “gospel” means) that forgiveness of sins is available through Jesus [John 14:6]. They will have doubts. They will have questions. We need to respond to these, which means we need to be prepared. We need to know our Bibles.
Notice that Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom. His message was 180° opposed to the philosophy of the day, hence the call to “repent” – to change one’s mind [Matthew 4:17]. He didn’t promote an Oprah-like message that made people feel good about themselves but would keep them out of heaven. He told people the truth and they were amazed [John 7:28-29, 46].
To back up the veracity of His teachings and to further prove His deity, Jesus [healed] all kinds of disease… among the people. Those of us who are children of God through faith [John 1:12] need to back-up our faith similarly. While we can’t miraculously heal people, we can demonstrate the compassion of Jesus in other ways. It all comes down to walking the talk. Our lifestyle and our relationships with the people in our life need to support the truth we preach/teach.
The major reason people don’t come to faith in Christ is because Christians don’t live a lifestyle that backs up what they claim they believe. Nor can they effectively respond to questions about their faith. This is because we are too tied to the world – chasing after entertainment and money. Our lives are impotent.
If we want to make an eternal impact on the world – and we should – we need to follow Jesus’ model: Preach the gospel. Answer questions. And back it all up with our lives.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.