February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.”—Matthew 4:23–25 (NIV)
And so it begins, the moment we’ve all been waiting for since Jesus was born and John the Baptist laid the foundation of His coming. Jesus is ready to begin His earthly ministry, and this passage gives us an outline of it.
The most vital part of Jesus’ ministry was teaching everyone He encountered the Word of God and how to practically apply it. He explained, presented, and applied the knowledge of God through parables to anyone and everyone who wanted to listen. Parables are stories with a practical and spiritual application, and Jesus told them because He knew they’d be easy to remember and repeat. We’ve all heard the saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This was Jesus’ method of teaching. What does a Good Shepherd like Jesus do when He sees His flock needs care? He doesn’t just give out fish so they could eat. He feeds them, but He also teaches them how to get fed and how to connect to the Father. What’s His motivation to teach us? Compassion.
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”—Mark 6:34 (NIV, emphasis added)
We sometimes use preaching and teaching interchangeably, but preaching isn’t teaching. To preach is to proclaim the things He taught as truth and to exhort a life change. Teaching has more to do with education and giving knowledge about a subject, but doesn’t necessarily ask for conversion. Preaching requires a decision whereas teaching doesn’t. The person at the receiving end must either accept or reject the invitation being presented. When Jesus preached, it didn’t look like it does at church today. We now preach of Jesus dying on the cross for our salvation as the gospel, but He hadn’t done that yet. Instead, He preached that the kingdom of God had finally arrived. His focus was for those He impacted to repent or turn away from sin.
“’The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’”—Mark 1:15 (NIV, emphasis added)
Jesus’ priority wasn’t to heal the sick, but healing served as the proof of His authority to teach and preach. This made Jesus quite popular—and the more the news about His miracles spread, the more people were brought to Him so He could restore them. Healing today looks very different from back then. Jesus performed many miracles including giving sight to the blind and bringing the dead back to life. When my mother succumbed to the terrible disease of ovarian cancer, we prayed for miraculous healing. But in her case, her healing meant for her to see her Savior face to face, and so she was delivered from the pains of this earthly life. Back then, many traveled to touch His cloak because they believed they’d be healed. Faith is what healed them, and faith is what heals us today.
“Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”—John 10:37–38 (NIV)
Pause: Meditate on Jesus’ earthly ministry. If you had lived during the time He walked the earth with us, which of the three would have captured your attention: His teaching, His preaching, or His healing?
Practice: Follow the Lord’s footsteps. Teach your child or a trusted friend something practical about the gospel, share your testimony with an unbeliever and invite them to know Jesus, or pray for one person in your life who needs healing.
Pray: Lord, I’m in awe of You! Thank You for giving me so many chances in my lifetime to turn my heart toward You. Merciful, loving, faithful, trustworthy . . . You are these and more! Help me be more like You and give me courage to share You so the world knows their only Savior is You. Forgive me for the times I’ve doubted You and failed You. Your love and forgiveness are enough. Teach me Your ways, I invite You today. Amen.
Alessandra (Ally) Velsor has been part of the Calvary Chapel staff since 2009. Because her family owned various restaurants growing up, she determined to do something else and got a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication. But… never say never…
She served in The Grill at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale for 14 years as a server, restaurant manager, and catering manager. She’s currently serving as the cafe supervisor in the Plantation campus. She met her husband, Kenny, working at The Grill and married him in 2011. They have two amazing children Joshua and Sunny.