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Matthew 04.23

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March 11, 2007 at FBC, Comanche; Expositional studies: Matthew

Text: Matthew 4:23-25

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.

“Learning from the King”

Introduction:

c. Summary of Jesus’ Public Ministry (4:23–25). 4:23–25 Matthew leaves the private lakeside setting. As Jesus’ public ministry gets underway, he travels throughout Galilee, preaching spontaneously to open-air crowds and making guest appearances in local synagogues (cf. Luke 4:16–17 for details). The message he preaches (v. 17) is “good news.” From this term (euangelion) comes the English word gospel, which would become so linked with Jesus’ message in Christian circles as to become a title for books about his life as well as a characterization of the message he proclaimed. Jesus heals many, not as an ordinary physician, as will become clear, but by drawing on supernatural power. A report of these miracles goes out to all of the nearby territories both inside and outside of Israel, except for Samaria.4

Matthew enumerates several categories of maladies that Jesus cures. Examples of all of these will subsequently be illustrated.5 The most striking on the list is demon possession, which Matthew carefully distinguishes from ordinary diseases, including epilepsy (“those having seizures”). Contrary to what many today believe, the ancient world regularly and carefully distinguished between afflictions ascribed to demons and other forms of illness.6 Demon possession was viewed as a unique situation in which an evil spirit actually took control of an individual, acting and speaking through that person in at least partial independence of his or her own volition and consciousness. Almost everyone in ancient societies believed in the reality of demon possession, and striking examples of it remain common enough today so as to be deniable only through severe naturalistic prejudice.7 Jesus’ miracle working understandably attracts crowds, but those in the crowds will need to be instructed on what true discipleship involves if they are to become genuine followers.[1]


23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

—Matthew 4:23–25

Jesus’ strategy was to tour Galilee, teaching in the many synagogues. This itinerant pattern of teaching took the message of the kingdom to the people. The center of the religious life of each Jewish community was the synagogue, the most important institution in their life, and the primary center of their education. In fact, to this day, it is recognized that the development of the synagogue pattern through the Babylonian captivity was one of the finest educational systems in history. ** Wherever there was a Jewish community there was a synagogue. While the temple existed as the place where ritual sacrifices were made to God, the synagogue was the place of preaching and teaching. Synagogues were the popular religious colleges of the day. If anyone had ideas to share, the synagogue was the place to begin.

Jesus went to the synagogue with His message. He did not crawl off in a corner, but dared to lay His message of the kingdom open before each religious center in the villages of Galilee. The structure of the synagogue service gave Him this privilege. In addition to the periods of prayer, the readings from the Law and the prophets, there was a third aspect of their service in which individuals had the privilege of addressing the assembly, followed by an opportunity for discussion. Jesus used the open door of the synagogue to share the gospel of the kingdom.

Jesus not only preached and taught; the record says that He healed all kinds of sicknesses and diseases among the people. His ministry was one of restoring people to wholeness. The man who preached radical change, who announced the kingdom, was performing deeds of mercy. He healed and restored common people to wholeness and elevated them to a sense of worth. He restored their spiritual well-being as He preached and their physical well-being as He administered healing. Verse 24 adds to the list of sicknesses the problems of demon-possession and crippling limitations. His ministry overcame ignorance, religious formalism, disease, and demonic attacks; it was a ministry designed to liberate and enable people to be their best in the grace of God.

In the synagogue at Nazareth, as Luke reports, Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah, from the place where it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19, kjv). Just as Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested, so the Spirit of the Lord anointed Him for a ministry that would bring liberty and fulfillment to persons in the grace of God.

We are told in verse 24 that His fame went throughout all of Syria and the people came to Him. This account shows that early in the ministry of Christ His word was not confined to the Jewish community. His message included Gentiles from the very beginning. The saving acts of God are not limited to ethnic Judaism but are extended to all the world. If Matthew’s Gospel is said to have a special communication for the Jewish community, it must be seen as showing them that the gospel is for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

Matthew concluded this section to show how popular the ministry of Jesus Christ actually was. We read in verse 25 that great multitudes followed Him from Galilee, from Decapolis, the free Greek cities across the Sea of Galilee to the east (largely Gentile), from Jerusalem and Judea and from “the region across the Jordan” (niv). This description is an affirmation of Jesus’ popularity as a teacher. He attracted people from all over the land of Palestine to both learn from Him and to be healed by Him. The ministry of Christ was not carried on in a quiet, secret way but in complete openness and candor before the total society and the world.

Matthew thus completes the first section of his Gospel, having introduced the person of the King by showing His universal appeal. The King is presenting a kingdom that is for all people, Jew and Gentile, who will come into the fellowship of God through the gospel of grace. His appeal is not to one ethnic group only nor to one given culture. Having begun His ministry among the Jews, but in Galilee of the Gentiles, it is made apparent that His appeal is universal.

An outline for this section could be a discussion of the character of His ministry: (1) teaching in the synagogues; (2) preaching the gospel of the kingdom; and (3) healing diseases.

Jesus touched persons at their point of need and from that point of need led them to the experience of faith. The gospel of the kingdom is the Good News by which we may live in the fellowship of the King.

An outline for the total section from verse 12 through 25 on the ministry of Christ shows: (1) the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles; (2) the strategy of His ministry of making disciples; and (3) the character of His ministry with its universal appeal.

Matthew has prepared the reader for the next section, the Sermon on the Mount. Great crowds followed Jesus, from which He withdrew and began to teach His disciples. In chapter 4 we have seen: (1) Jesus’ rejection of popular messianic expectations; (2) Jesus’ call to openness to the kingdom of God; (3) Jesus’ creation of a disciple community; and (4) Jesus’ ministry to the needy. The climax is significant, for the man who announced the kingdom of God and called for radical change is not functioning with the violence of the zealot but is healing, casting out demons, performing deeds of mercy. The stage is set for a sermon to interpret the lifestyle of the kingdom.[2]


4:23. The work of the Lord was not limited to preaching. His deeds were as important as His words, for a great question in the minds of the Jews would be, “Can this One claiming to be Messiah perform the works of Messiah?” Matthew 4:23 is an important summary statement crucial to Matthew’s theme (cf. 9:35, almost identical to 4:23). Several important elements are included in this verse. (1) Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues. The ministry of this One who claimed to be King of the Jews was conducted among the Jews. He ministered in synagogues, places of Jewish gatherings for worship. (2) This One was involved in “teaching” and preaching. He thus was involved in a prophetic ministry for He is “the Prophet” announced in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. (3) He was proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. His message was that God was moving to fulfill His covenantal program with Israel and to establish His kingdom on the earth. (4) He was healing every disease and sickness among the people (cf. “teaching,” “preaching,” and “healing” in Matt. 9:35). This authenticated that He is indeed the Prophet, for His words were backed up by authenticating signs. All these actions should have convinced the Jewish people that God was moving in history to accomplish His purposes. They were responsible to get ready by repenting from their sins and acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah.

4:24-25. The ministry of Jesus—and probably also the ministry of the four men he called (vv. 18-22)—was dramatic for multitudes of people heard of Jesus and began to flock to Him. The news about Him spread all over Syria, the area north of Galilee. As people came, they brought many who were afflicted with a variety of illnesses and Jesus healed them all. No wonder large crowds began to follow Jesus from Galilee, from the Decapolis (lit., “10 cities”; an area east and south of the Sea of Galilee), from Jerusalem and Judea, and the region across (west of) the Jordan River (see map).[3]


4:23 teaching … preaching … healing. The 3 main aspects of Christ’s public ministry.

4:24 Syria. The area immediately NE of Galilee.

4:25 Decapolis. A confederation of 10 Hellenized cities S of Galilee and mostly E of the Jordan. The league of cities was formed shortly after Pompey’s invasion of Palestine (ca. 64 b.c.) to preserve Gr. culture in the Semitic region. These cities were naturally Gentile strongholds.[4]


Christ’s Ministry of Power (Matt. 4:12–15)

Matthew has already shown us that every detail of our Lord’s life was controlled by the Word of God. Remember that between the end of His temptation and the statement in Matthew 4:12 comes the ministry described in John 1:19 through John 3:36. We must not think that John the Baptist was thrown into prison immediately after our Lord’s temptation. Matthew wrote his book topically rather than chronologically. Consult a good harmony of the Gospels to study the sequence of events.

In Matthew 4:16, Matthew quoted Isaiah (see Isa. 9:1–2). The prophet wrote about people who “walked” in darkness, but by the time Matthew quoted the passage, the situation was so discouraging that the people were sitting in darkness! Jesus Christ brought the Light to them. He made His headquarters in Capernaum in “Galilee of the Gentiles,” another reference to the universal outreach of the Gospel’s message. In Galilee there was a mixed population that was somewhat despised by the racially “pure” citizens of Judea.

How did Jesus bring this Light to Galilee? We are told in Matthew 4:23: through His teaching, preaching, and healing. This emphasis is found often in the Gospel of Matthew; see 9:35; 11:4–5; 12:15; 14:34–36; 15:30; 19:2. Matthew was quite clear that He healed “all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matt. 4:23). There was no case too difficult for Him!

The result of these great miracles was a tremendous fame for Jesus, and a great following of people from many areas. “Syria” refers to an area in northern [NNE] Galilee. “Decapolis” means “ten cities” and was a district made up of ten cities originally built by followers of Alexander the Great. The Decapolis was in the northeastern part of Galilee. “Beyond Jordan” means Perea, the area east of the Jordan. News traveled fast, and those who had afflicted friends or family members brought them to Jesus for healing.

Matthew listed some of the “cases” in Matthew 4:24. “Diseases and torments” could cover almost any disease. Of course, our Lord often delivered people from demons. The term “lunatic” [βάσανος [basanos /bas·an·os/] the rack or instrument of torture by which one is forced to divulge the truth[5]] did not refer to people who were insane. Rather, it was used to describe those afflicted with epilepsy (see Matt. 17:15). σεληνιάζομαι [seleniazomai /sel·ay·nee·ad·zom·ahee/] v. Middle voice or passive from a presumed derivative of 4582; GK 4944; Two occurrences; AV translates as “be lunatick” twice. 1 to be moon-struck or lunatic.[6] Palsy meant “paralytic.”

Miracles of healing were but a part of Christ’s ministry throughout Galilee; for He also taught and preached the Word. The “light” that Isaiah promised was the Light of the Word of God, as well as the Light of His perfect life and compassionate ministry. The word preach in Matthew 4:17 and 23 means “to announce as a herald.” Jesus proclaimed with authority the Good News that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.

The phrase kingdom of heaven is found thirty-two times in Matthew’s Gospel. The phrase kingdom of God is found only five times (Matt. 6:33; 12:28; 19:24; 21:31, 43). Out of reverence for the holy name of the Lord, the Jews would not mention “God” but would substitute the word “heaven.” The Prodigal Son confessed that he had sinned “against heaven,” meaning, of course, against God. In many places where Matthew uses kingdom of heaven, the parallel passages in Mark and Luke use kingdom of God.

In the New Testament, the word kingdom means “rule, reign, authority” rather than a place or a specific realm. The phrase “kingdom of heaven” refers to the rule of God. The Jewish leaders wanted a political leader who would deliver them from Rome; but Jesus came to bring spiritual rule to the hearts of people. This does not deny the reality of a future kingdom as we have already noted.

But Jesus not only proclaimed the Good News and taught the people God’s truth, He also called to Himself a few disciples whom He could train for the work of the kingdom. In Matthew 4:17–22 we read of the call of Peter, Andrew, James, and John, men who had already met Jesus and trusted Him (John 1:29–42). They had gone back to their fishing business, but He came and called them to give up their business and follow Him. The details of this call may be found in Mark 1:16–20 and Luke 5:1–11.

The term “fishers of men” was not new. For centuries, Greek and Roman philosophers had used it to describe the work of the man who seeks to “catch” others by teaching and persuasion. “Fishing for men” is but one of many pictures of evangelism in the Bible, and we must not limit ourselves to it. Jesus also talked about the shepherd seeking the lost sheep (Luke 15:1–7), and the workers in the harvest-field (John 4:34–38). Since these four men were involved in the fishing business, it was logical for Jesus to use this approach.

Jesus had four and possibly seven men in the band of disciples who were professional fishermen (see John 21:1–3). Why would Jesus call so many fishermen to His side? For one thing, fishermen were busy people; usually professional fishermen did not sit around doing nothing. They either sorted their catch, prepared for a catch, or mended their equipment. The Lord needs busy people who are not afraid to work.

Fishermen have to be courageous and patient people. It certainly takes patience and courage to win others to Christ. Fishermen must have skill; they must learn from others where to find the fish and how to catch them. Soul-winning demands skill too. These men had to work together, and the work of the Lord demands cooperation. But most of all, fishing demands faith: fishermen cannot see the fish and are not sure their nets will enclose them. Soul-winning requires faith and alertness too, or we will fail.

Matthew has presented to us the person of the King. Every witness affirms, “This is the Son of God, this is the King!” [7]


March 11, 2007 at FBC, Comanche; Expositional studies: Matthew

Text: Matthew 4:23-25

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.

“Learning from the King”

Introduction:

1.    Practicing as He Went

Lived out what He learned

@  Practiced what He preached; preached what He practiced.  Life and lips matched.

2.    Preaching the Good News

Leading God’s people according to God’s Word [Mark 1:38]

@  the pastor must be a theologian in order for God’s people to become theologians—study the Word of God to know the will of God

κηρύσσω Kerusso—to be a herald, to officiate as a herald

@  Main ministry functions of the elder, bishop, overseer, shepherd, pastor-teacher—to preach [expound the Word of God and exhort the people of God] and to teach [to set forth in orderly manner—line by line, precept upon precept] to edify the people of God to do what they should do—to minister to others

++  Good news travels fast [best form of advertising]; bad news travels even faster

@  Lost can Only get

3.    Performing Miracles

Miracles, signs

1st century manifestation of God’s power

Conclusion and Application

The “light” that Isaiah promised was the Light of the Word of God, as well as the Light of His perfect life and compassionate ministry. The word preach in Matthew 4:17 and 23 means “to announce as a herald.” Jesus proclaimed with authority the Good News that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. And the people were amazed


----

4 See A. Sand (Das Evangelium nach Matthäus, RNT [Regensburg: Pustet, 1986], 88–95) for a detailed excursus on the possible theological implications of the various territories, concluding that all, indiscriminately, who accept Jesus as Messiah are the “renewed people of Israel” (93).

5 In light of this fact, “all” of v. 23 probably means all kinds, not every sick individual. Cf. John 5:1–15, in which Jesus singles out for healing only one person in a large crowd of sick people. The second “all” in v. 24 therefore probably has a similar meaning, given the unlikelihood of every single ill person of all these regions actually being brought to Jesus.

6 See esp. E. Yamauchi, “Magic or Miracle? Disease, Demons and Exorcisms,” in Gospel Perspectives, ed. D. Wenham and C. Blomberg, vol. 6 (She¯eld: JSOT, 1986), 89–183.

7 See esp. J. Richards, But Deliver Us from Evil (New York: Seabury, 1974); J. W. Montgomery, ed., Demon Possession (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1976).

[1]Blomberg, C. (2001, c1992). Vol. 22: Matthew (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (91). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2]Augsburger, M. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Vol. 24: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 24 : Matthew. Formerly The Communicator's Commentary. The Preacher's Commentary series (18). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.

cf. confer, compare

vv. verses

lit. literal, literally

[3]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:28). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Gr. Greek

[4]MacArthur, J. J. (1997, c1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) (Mt 4:23). Nashville: Word Pub.

[5]Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G931). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

v v: verb

GK Goodrick-Kohlenberger

AV Authorized Version

[6]Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G4583). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

[7]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Mt 4:12). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

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