Whole Life Whole Bible Day 31
Matthew 4:23-25 (NASB)
23 Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
24 The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
30: In word and deed
Matthew summarizes here what he describes more fully elsewhere, and what the other Gospel writers also make clear — that the story of Jesus cannot be presented without telling of his acts of power and compassion, healing and transformation.
The ancient world had its fair share of ‘healers’, but Jesus was different — and people knew it. Not only does the list of those healed emphasize the authority of Jesus over all kinds of sickness, but his hearings are a sign that, after years of seeming silence, God’s saving rule is now beginning to dawn in Israel. In words and in works, Jesus is proclaiming nothing less than the arrival of God’s reign, announcing and enacting the presence and power of the kingdom — bringing sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, mobility to the lame, even life to the dead.
In the exorcisms, individuals oppressed in different ways are freed, signalling a defeat for the powers of darkness. Their deliverance — not by any magical means but by a rebuke and a command — marks the presence of the kingdom. Where those with skin diseases of various kinds are socially ostracized, Jesus breaks taboos by stepping outside the ‘circle of purity’ in order to rescue them, not only making them whole but reintegrating them into the community. All of this shows that the works of the kingdom are not just an exercise of bare power but an expression of covenant love — bringing liberation and renewal, touching the whole of our lives, reconstituting the people of God.
In his nature miracles, too (for example, the calming of the storm, the multiplication of loaves and fishes), Jesus demonstrates the good news he proclaims, that God’s rule over all creation — not just Israel — is being exercised. His works reveal in advance something of God’s purposes for the restoration of the whole created order, offering us glimpses of a renewed cosmos from which the powers of darkness will be ejected, when sickness and pain will be no more, and God’s creation will be restored to its original harmony.
Within the context of the Gospels — and as the letters of Paul and others will make clear—victory is bound up with the work that Jesus will do on the cross and in his resurrection. Meanwhile, as we look forward to the final redemption that will come to every part of creation, we delight that no area of the world is beyond God’s reach, no aspect of life exempt from his rule.
For further reflection and action
Read about some of Jesus’ works of healing and deliverance in Matthew 8-9.
Jesus proclaimed the coming of the kingdom not only with words but with deeds of power. How far can we be faithful to his teaching without acknowledging the place of healing and casting out demons? Dare we exclude the possibility of miracles today?
Even so, God usually works in normal ways through normal means. Reflect on the everyday ways in which you see God at work in your own life and in the lives of others.
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.