Jesus Begins His Ministry 4
August 15, 2019
by Barry Fike
Let's backtrack a little and go back to Matthew 4:23-25. After His temptations in the wilderness Jesus immediately begins to call disciples to follow him. In promising to make them fishers of men Jesus lays upon them the call of a Rabbi, which, in Jesus' day and time, was a great honor.
The apocalyptists of Jesus’ day and time believed that at the time that the kingdom of heaven appeared Satan and his powers would also be destroyed, and so thought Jesus (Flusser, Jesus, p. 107). According to both Jesus and the rabbis, the kingdom of heaven emerges, indeed, out of the power of God, but is realized upon earth by men. Man, then, can and should work for the realization of the kingdom. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17) (Flusser, Jesus, p. 108).
The text of Matt. 4 then says that Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, which was a common practice for him, and preaching the gospel (the good news) of the kingdom (the place where God is ruling and reigning). To demonstrate the kingdom being in their midst, miracles are performed healing all manner of diseases and all manner of sickness among the people. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Lk. 11:20). It’s a broad statement but one that indicates that whatever the need was, it was met as Jesus demonstrated the power of God was not only one of word but also of miraculous power.
God’s unconditional love for all becomes visible, and the barriers between sinner and righteous are shattered. Human dignity becomes null and void, the last become first, and the first become last. The poor, the hungry, the meek, the mourners, and the persecuted inherit the kingdom of heaven (Flusser, Jesus, 111). That God performed miracles was never questioned by the Rabbis. Their purpose was “to sanctify His great name in the world” (Cohen, Everyman’s Talmud, p. 11). Whether you’re talking about splitting the Red Sea, manna in the wilderness, the donkey that spoke to Balaam, the rainbow, the budding rod, the writing on the tablets of stone, the moon standing still for Joshua, the ravens that fed Elijah, the fire that didn’t harm Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, lions that would not harm Daniel and a fish that spit Jonah out they all displayed the idea that his name was to be set apart from every other name on the face of the earth that men might turn to it and in it gain spiritual discernment.
Matthew continues saying that after these initial miracles were performed word went out and others were brought to him but now the diseases are specific: various diseases, demon possession, epileptic, and palsied and he healed them all. Immediately great multitudes from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem and Judaea began to follow him because of what the miracles displayed about his relationship with God. Just as people, kings and nations were awed by the miracles of God throughout the Old Testament, people were just as taken back by someone who had the power to take the authority over evil and act in a physically restorative process as he did. It is only after these things that the famous Sermon on the Mount is now delivered. He’s demonstrated by the will of God that the diseases and infirmities are not part of the plan of God for his people. Now the teaching will follow to see if their discernment is more amazement of the physical world or if they have the ability to listen with their ears and see with their eyes the true spiritual message that God has for all of them…and us.