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Teaching, Proclaiming, and Healing

As Matthew 4:12-23 records, sin and idolatry had plunged God’s people into the darkness of being conquered, plundered, and oppressed. But when Jesus moved to Capernaum in Galilee, the light dawned on that region in fulfillment of Isaiah’s words. “From that time on,” Matthew says, “Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” The light dawns for Galilee as Jesus preaches the good news, and in Matthew 4:23, we see Jesus’ three-part strategy for shining the light of the new kingdom: teaching, proclaiming, and healing.

Teaching is what Jesus does within the synagogue on the Sabbath, to committed and faithful Jews. The clearest example we have of Jesus doing this is found in Luke 3, where He stands up to read, they give Him the Isaiah scroll, He reads out a text, sits down and starts to explain and apply it.

His proclaiming ministry is an extension of His teaching ministry, but although there is overlap, there is also a difference between explaining the Bible in church and proclaiming the gospel in the world. Proclaiming focuses much more on announcement; teaching is more focused on explanation. Proclamation is brief, punchy, evangelistic. Teaching takes longer, goes deeper, and the goal is edification more than evangelism. But both of these methods were essential parts of Jesus’ ministry of bringing light to the world.

In addition to these modes of word-ministry, Jesus also engages in deed-ministry. He heals every disease and every affliction among the people. His works of healing do more than simply authenticate or back up His teaching. They actually start to transform the world into the heavenly kingdom that Jesus is announcing. Jesus doesn’t just announce the kingdom; He brings the kingdom.

In applying this passage to our lives, we run up against the Epiphany paradox: Epiphany shows us that there is no one like Jesus, and Epiphany calls us all to be like Jesus. Jesus is revealed to be utterly unique, one-of-a-kind, sent by God to do something that no one else could ever do. In and of ourselves, we can’t imitate Him and bring light to the world just by doing what He did. Without Jesus, we have nothing to teach, nothing to proclaim, no ability to help and heal. And so our first response needs to be worship, not imitation.

But as we worship Him, we do in fact become like Him. Because Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves, He enables us to do what we could never do before. Isaiah and Matthew use a simple but powerful image to illustrate the point: in the dark, there are many things that you can’t do, but once Jesus turns the lights on, what was previously impossible becomes possible. Only Jesus could bring light to the world, because only Jesus is the light of the world. But once you have been “enlightened”, then you are able to share His light!

Epiphany says: “Jesus is the light of the world.” Jesus says “You are the light of the world.” Since Jesus says this, we can and must apply verse 23 to the Church. For us to be the light of the world, our mission is to teach, proclaim, and heal.

Some people within the church are specifically called to teach by opening up the Word of God and explaining it like Jesus did in the synagogue. But the Church also teaches when her members engage in family worship, in personal devotions, in Christian education, and every time the Word is opened and explained.

The Church primarily proclaims the gospel primarily through her evangelists – those called to the public ministry of sharing the good news outside of the walls of the Church. But she also proclaims the gospel as individual Christians engage in conversation where we explain our lives in terms of Christ’s kingship.

And finally, we heal the world by working against sickness, affliction, disease, and death. We do this through Spirit-filled prayer that asks God for miraculous healing, and we do this through our everyday efforts in medicine, technology, science, education, and so on, offering mercy and help to those are suffering and afflicted in Jesus’ name. We are shining Christ’s light to people walking in darkness, and we are spreading healing throughout the world in order to give a taste of the coming kingdom.

Jesus is the light of the world. Hear His preaching, and repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Listen to His teaching. Receive His gospel by faith. Come to Jesus and be healed! When you do this, your darkness turns to light, so that you then can be the light of world: teach the Word of God. Proclaim the gospel of the kingdom. Heal every disease and every affliction, in Jesus’ name.

Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 by CJ Bowen