Suggested Reading: Matthew 4: 23-25
The above portion of the Scripture is essentially a summary of Jesus' ministry. Firstly we see He went all over the region of Galilee –He moved around and did not stay in one place for too long. Secondly, I noted with much interest that he did his teaching in the synagogues and His preaching in the open. The Greek word for teaching is didasko "", a word which means He held discussions with others in order to instruct them, to instil sound doctrine into them and expound on the Scriptures. In other words, in the churches He held discussions and in the open He preached the good news of the kingdom of God. The Greek word used for preaching in this text is ke "" russo "", which means He proclaimed the good news as a messenger of God. The word carries a suggestion of formality, gravity and authority according to Thayer's Greek Definitions. There are quite a number of records in the Gospels which say that the crowds were amazed at the authority of His words.
What I find most interesting though is that he performed the more formal part of His ministry in the open and in the church He engaged in dialogue with the congregants. The Greek word for preaching also means His preaching was done openly and not in a secretive way, reserved only for a few particularly selected insiders. When Jesus said to His accusers, "I spoke nothing in secret," He was affirming the way He went about preaching the good news of the Kingdom. He was open about it. We seem to have turned His style of teaching and preaching upside down, however.
Most churches would not dream of having free discussions as a way of teaching in the church. It is mostly a one-man show where one person speaks and no one dares to question him. The listeners keep their questions to themselves and often leave there, forgetting what they asked in the first place. That is indeed a very ineffective form of teaching. It has been proved through extensive research over many years that one is better able to instruct another if you engage them in active discussion while introducing them to the information at hand. Jesus was exemplary as a Teacher in more than one aspect, but for me this just adds to the endlessly long list of marvellous characteristics of our Lord. He encouraged questioning. He did not fear it. The reason for that is simple: He spoke the truth and He was well in command of the topic being discussed. He had no insecurities which caused Him to fear the questions of people.
Last, but certainly not least, He cured all kinds of diseases. He brought them the word and He also looked after their physical needs. As the Great Physician, He did not care only for one dimension of their being but for all of it –physical, spiritual and mental. That is the work of a true pastor. As John writes later, we can not tell a person in need that we will pray for him (looking after the spiritual aspect) when we have the capacity to address a physical need and delude ourselves into thinking that we have shown the love of God to that person. Our love for one another is a verb (an action word) and not an expression of mere emotions. We can tell someone we love them till we are blue in the face, but until we have proven that love by our actions, we have not in reality shown love at all. Jesus generously expressed His love in the form of His actions – most probably the act of love where He sacrificed His own life on behalf of people who for the most part did not like Him very much. Says John about this love,
"If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother and sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God be love in that person? by our actions. " 1 John 3: 17-18 (NLT)
It is clear from the above Scripture that God's love shines through us in our actions much more than our words. Our words and actions must work in unison to be truthful. James writes on the topic too:
"Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say," Good-bye, and have a good day; stay warm and eat well "- but then you do not give that person any food or clothing. James 2: 15-16 (NLT)
The Lord Jesus never looked after one dimension of a human being while ignoring the rest. There are at least two incidences where He was concerned that the people who came to Him would go hungry. In both instances He performed a creative miracle to see the physical needs of the crowds. He cared that they were sick. Some would come to Him asking that he would heal them, if He is willing. "I am willing …" was his immediate response. He never did anything or give anything begrudgingly. He is in all imaginable aspects the perfect example of love.
Because of his loving, merciful and tender nature combined with the power of God, word about Him spread through the entire region. He was unusual in so many ways. One of His ways that stands out for me is the fact that He was powerful, yet tender. We are not accustomed to that. Most people we know who has power, uses it to oppress and deceive others for their own selfish ends, but here is a man who was powerfully unselfish; powerfully gentle and powerful merciful. No wonder "the whole world is going after Him," as the Pharisees acknowledged so bitterly.
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