Matthew 4:23-25, Christ the Traveler and Healer
General Idea: This passage summaries Jesus teaching and touching ministry to the people, which sets us up for the Sermon on the Mount. Our Lord traveled all through Capernaum and Galilee teaching, ministering, healing the multitudes, and training His disciples. He did not wait for people to come to Him; He was the Itinerant preacher going to the people, where they were. Making the ultimate act of humility as God incarnate lowering Himself on so many levels on so many occasions from becoming one of us and then seeking us! He was moved by compassion to minister to the physical needs of the people. He did not merely address the metaphysical and spiritual without being there physically, getting His hands dirty. He was face to face with our depravity and hopeless needy state, a people who mostly sought Him for what they could get from Him, uninterested in things eternal only in the now, only interested in His service and not His salvation. Seeking the free gifts and not the Gift Giver! Yet, He persevered to the cross for the ungrateful stiff neck people we are!
a. Jesus started His public ministry by traveling to the people all through Galilee and Capernaum (Matt 4:12-17) teaching the nature and purpose of God as illustrated in the Sermon of the Mount that follows this passage (Matt. 5-7).
1.Archeologists are finding out that Capernaum was actually a very large city that Herod had manifestly built up on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee with a coliseum, ports extending out to the sea.
2. Isaiah had predicted this centuries before (Isa. 9:1-2)!
3.Jesus never stayed in one place very long; He was traveling town to town proclaiming the good news and the Kingdome of Heaven (Dan. 2:44; Mark 1:14; Luke 1:32-33), while meeting the physical needs of the people from hunger to healing (Mk 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44).
i. He went to synagogues, most likely being invited by the local Rabbis as the custom was then (Luke 4:14-30).
ii. He healed all kinds of sickness and disease (Mark 1:21-32; Luke 4:31-41).
iii. He cast out demons, and made a distinction between demons and physical sickness (Matt. 4:24). As epilepsy was associated with demonic attack up until the 19th century! Jesus made a clear medical separation!
4. He made it easy for people to come to Him, at the same time difficult.
i. People did not have to travel just to see Him as He came to them, but many others had to undertake difficult journeys to see Him (Mark 1:45; Luke 5:15)!
ii. To really learn from Jesus and not just get a quick need filled or hear one sermon, you had to travel with Him: Follow me!
iii. Great multitudes followed Jesus as His fame spread out to all the souring areas as far as a foot with a month could carry, Syria (the territory north of Galilee to Damascus), Decapolis (the Gentile city area), Judea and beyond the Jordan.
5. Many Christians over the centuries have thought how great it must have been to see Jesus in person, but they forget many did and rejected Him!
b. Jesus concern was for all people, not just His home town, or His surrounding area, not just His culture and ethnic group, but all people at all times (Mark 16:16; Matt. 28:19)!
1. Jesus had His disciples do the same, teaching and modeling them His concern and outlook.
2. Jesus was complied with divine initiation and human perseverance to His mission (Luke 4:42).
c. Healing and Miracles were apart of the ministry.
1.They were a demonstration of His power and pedigree of His truth (John 5:36).
i. They were a demonstration that we might believe (John 20:30-31).
ii. They were an expression of Jesus' compassion (Matt. 14:14; 20:29-34).
iii. They were a proclamation that the Kingdom of God was at hand (Matt. 11:5).
iv. They were confirmation of prophecy (Mt 8:16-17).
v. Even His enemies admitted that His miracles were real (John 11: 47)!
2. They were confirmation of the validity of the disciples being from God too (Mark 16:19-20; Heb. 2:3-4).
3.Healing and Miracles are never to be for personal benefit or health and wealth (Acts 2:22; 1 Tim. 5:23)! There primary purpose is to confirm God's message and power; that Jesus is the Son of God! That the disciples were sent from God!
i. They are never to be conjured up for entertainment or show, they are to glorify God not us, and they are to confirm who Christ is.
ii. They are never to be the focus or reason for ministry. A healthy Christ centered church will never seek miracles for showman's sake, but only to glorify Christ. A blessed church is not one who has signs and wonders, but who is responding to the call of making disciples!
iii. Today Miracles still exist, but are rare; our focus is to be on Him and eternity not for a temporary gratification of our needs or sufferings.
d. Following Jesus requires effort, constancy, time, energy, and the willingness to let go of what holds us back in life including our will and pride.
1. Following Jesus is that we have to follow! He seeks us first, but we still have to keep up with Him in our faith and efforts to do our part!
2. Following Jesus means we do not just ask the question of what would Jesus do, but what He will have me do. We know this by following His character and teachings to all parts of our life even when it is inconvenient, or has considerable expense, or goes against our family and society.
3. We cannot allow ourselves to seek Him for what we could get from Him, uninterested in things eternal only now, only interested in His service and not His salvation. Seeking the free gifts and not the Gift Giver!
For us today:
1. Everyone needs to hear the gospel!
2. Everyone needs to be cared for and have needs met!
3. Everyone needs to give and receive compassion!
4. We cannot separate preaching from ministering!
i. We cannot think ministering is just preaching and teaching, nor can we think that meeting people's needs with out teaching is ministering!
ii. Proclaiming Christ is both teaching and discipleship and getting our hands dirty being involved in each other's lives!
5. Do not be like the pious frauds who were filled with envy and pride who objected to Jesus and His flowerers (Acts 13:44-47)!
6. Let us not miss His opportunities of the importance of our call to discipleship and missions, our service to others and our growth in Him!
1. Look at a Bible map and see how far people traveled to see Jesus. Keep in mind they had no means of transportation other than their two feet. What would their journey have been like?
2. What do you think their expectations were?
3. How would you summarize Jesus teaching?
4. Why do you suppose Jesus He did not wait for people to come to Him, as other teachers did at that time?
5. Why do you suppose Jesus never stayed in one place very long?
6. How did the people respond when Jesus met their physical needs of the people from hunger to healing?
7. Jesus healed all kinds of sickness and disease, so do you think He still does?
8. How did Jesus make it easy for people to come to Him?
9. How did Jesus make it hard?
10. To really learn from Jesus and not just get a quick need filled or hear one sermon, you had to what? What do you need to do now, today in your life?
11. What were the reasons why great multitudes followed Jesus?
12. Many Christians over the centuries have thought how great it must have been to see Jesus in person, do you? If so how would that effect your Christian life? What is stopping you from that reaction today?
13. After seeing incredible miracles ad teaching why would people forget and reject Him?
14. Jesus concern was for all people, what holds you back for such compassion and concern for others?
15. Jesus had His disciples do the same, teaching and modeling them His concern and outlook. What is it you thing he wants you to learn and do?
16. Jesus was complied with divine initiation and human perseverance to His mission. What compels you to do things?
17. Why did Jesus choose to use Healing and Miracles verses some other means? Keep in mind the dramatic miracles preformed through Moses and Elijah and the peoples commitment level.
18. Following Jesus requires effort, constancy, time, energy, and the willingness to let go of what holds us back in life including our will and pride. So what hold you back from growing deeper in Him or serving more for Him?
19. Following Jesus is that we have to follow! He seeks us first, but we still have to keep up with Him in our faith and efforts to do our part! So what you need to do to keep your part?
20. What do you need to do to make sure you do not miss His opportunities of the importance of your call to discipleship and missions, your service to others and your growth in Him?
Following Jesus means we do not just ask the question of what would Jesus do, but what He will have me do. We know this by following His character and teachings to all parts of our life even when it is inconvenient, or has considerable expense, or goes against our family and society.
© 2002, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org