Saturday, March 15, 2008

Matthew 4:23 Follow the Leader

As we saw in the last two blog posts on Matthew’s gospel, Jesus had called His first disciples into permanent service. Apparently He had become acquainted with them after His move to Capernaum but what was recorded in Matthew is their official call into ministry from the Messiah. These men would be sent on missions several times during the course of their ministry with the Lord. However, in verse 23, we notice that it is Jesus who is performing ministry. Let us observe how the Lord “did ministry” (man, I hate that term) and see if we can find applications for those of us living and serving the Lord today.

First of all, Matthew records that Jesus “was going throughout all Galilee”. The region known as Galilee was north of Jerusalem and was inhabited by mostly Gentiles. As John Gill noted in his Exposition of the Entire Bible, it was “a country mean and despicable, inhabited by persons poor, illiterate, vile, and wicked”. These people were considered to be backwards and socially were castaways. We find, then, Jesus begins His public ministry after having called His disciples here on what most people would describe as the wrong side of the tracks. Jesus went to the people who needed Him and He went to people that were considered outcasts. What a kind compassionate Savior we have. How often, though, do we fail to notice those all around us who would be considered in our society just like these men and women were? I fear it is far too often. Christ went throughout the entire region as He ministered. We should also look for opportunities to minister where we are without regard to the kinds of individuals to whom we are ministering. To many times, we look for people who are like us or to whom we might have things in common. I submit that the example our Lord sets for us is that we should minister to all people, even people we might avoid if we were making the choice rather than following the example of Christ.

Not only was our Lord going throughout all of Galilee, He also spent time “teaching in their Synagogues”. As Christ noted in Matthew 15:24, He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Of course, the salvation He brought by His death was not confined to any one race of people, but as we see Him ministering here, we find him going first to the Jews. While Matthew does not record here exactly what was taught, he says that Jesus was engaged in “didasko” (Greek-teaching). This word means “to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them” or to “deliver didactic discourses” according to Thayer’s Greek dictionary. In other words, He was trying to help these people learn the truth. The exact topic is not recorded here, but we can be certain Christ was teaching them about God, about Himself, and about the kingdom of God. As we minister to people, we should never forget to “keep the main thing the main thing”. We can get sidetracked about a lot of issues that may in and of themselves be important. However, nothing is more important in ministering to people than to show them from the scripture that they are sinners just as we are, that God demands a payment for their sin, and that Jesus Christ paid that sin debt on Calvary’s cross.

Finally, we notice that in addition to teaching, Christ was “preaching the gospel of the kingdom”. The word translated preaching is the Greek word “kerusso” and it means “to proclaim as a herald”. The picture that I paint in my mind is like a newsboy selling papers in a busy city crying out “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”. While when someone is teaching, there is some level of interaction between the teacher and student, a herald is not engaging in conversation. Basically, a herald is proclaiming a message for every person without regard for a particular response. Here it is: take it or leave it. While we certainly should look with compassion on folks who do not know Jesus as their Savior, we must remember that the Bible means what it means and says what it says. We should never compromise on the message or shy away from proclaiming it as the authoritative Word of the living God. As heralds we should proclaim the truth as revealed in scripture without compromise. As teachers, we should lovingly exhort individuals with the truth and help them to understand what it means.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

2 comments:

debese said...

Thanks for the comment. I've read through the Psalm's countless times before, but through circumstances that God has brought into my life (including reading through Desiring God), the Psalm's have had a greater impact.

Browsing through your blog I'm really enjoying your thoughts as well as the format.

Sola Scriptura!

Joe Blackmon said...

debese

Thank you for the encouragement. I'm adding a link to your blog on my blogroll. Keep up the good work.

in Christ