What is meant by the gospel? What difference has it made in your life?
I opened the discussion in this way because many people associate the gospel with the good news that Jesus Christ has died for our sins. However, the gospel was being preached by Jesus Christ years before this happened. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news, but it is the good news encompassing more than just “Jesus died for your sins.”
Matthew 4:12-25 ~ Jesus enters public ministry. Jesus began His public ministry with the same words that John the Baptist spoke, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This shows a continuity with the message and preaching of John. However, there are some new things that happen with the ministry of Jesus that did not happen with John’s ministry. John confined his ministry to the wilderness and all of Judea went out to meet him in that deserted area. Jesus comes to Capernaum (where the people are) which was a well-known fishing village and seeks out people to follow Him. In light of the message of John the Baptist and Jesus that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, how would you have felt about Jesus calling out to you to follow Him? What do you think the future would have in store for you if you had left everything to follow this man who claimed that the kingdom of heaven was at hand?
What is meant by the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom? What difference has it made for you?
Note: I drew on the markerboard behind me an illustration of one man out in the middle of the desert and everyone going to him. Then I drew an illustration of Jesus going forth to each town. I pointed out that the preaching of the gospel beginning with Jesus Christ means that we take the gospel to them. The idea of “come to church” is not truly gospel oriented. Gospel dictates we go to those that need to hear it.
Matthew 4:23-24 with Greek words depicting the sicknesses that Jesus healed. And healing all manner of nosos and malakia among the people. And they brought unto Him all kakos people that were taken with various nosos and basanos, and those which were daimonizomai, and those which were seleniazomai, and those that were paralutikos. Translation of these Greek words. Nosos = sickness or disease. Malakia = bodily weakness. Kakos = miserable or ill. Basanos = torments or torture. Daimonizamai = under the influence of a devil or demon. Seleniazomai = Under the influence of the moon, lunatic, epileptic. Paralutikos = paralyzed or disabled.
Jesus begins healing all kinds of people including those that are possessed by devils. Verse 24 gives a wide variety of sicknesses and physical ailments that Jesus healed. The point seems to be that there was no condition which Jesus could not heal. If you were hearing the preaching of Jesus that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and then witnessing Him healing all manner of sicknesses, what would be your view of the kingdom of heaven? What do you think are the purposes of the healing miracles?
Matthew 8:5-13 ~ The Faith of the Centurion. This story gives us insight into the authority of Jesus over sickness. Up to this point, Jesus has been physically present at every healing described in the gospel of Matthew. [It is possible that John 4:43-54 occurred before this, but most people were not there to witness that miracle.] The centurion comes with a request and Jesus immediately wants to come and be physically present to heal his servant. The centurion responds that Jesus does not need to come and be physically present because of His authority. Jesus is genuinely surprised at the man’s response. He draws attention to the centurion’s understanding of His authority stating that it took great faith for him to stop Jesus from physically coming to his home. Can you imagine the walk home for the centurion? He had no proof that his servant was healed, yet he was confident in the authority of Jesus that his servant would be completely healed when he arrived. How often do we have this confidence when asking Jesus for our requests? What are things that we can ask with that confidence?
Jesus points out that the faith of this Gentile was something not found in all of Israel. This Gentile put the entire nation of Israel to shame. Jesus continues with the first hint of banquet language which will serve as foundational to other parables. What can we learn about the kingdom of heaven from this language? Who will be in the kingdom of heaven? Who is thrown out of the kingdom of heaven? Is the kingdom of heaven present in the person of Jesus or is it future with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? This is the first time out of six that Matthew uses the phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth”; 8:12, 13:42, 13:50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30. The phrase “outer darkness” appears in three of these passages; 8:12, 22:13, 25:30.
Gathering language from the prophets. There are hints that Jesus was alluding to other prophecies when using His language of being brought into the kingdom of heaven. Narrowing our search to passages which use the closest language that Jesus used will lead us to Isaiah 43:5-6 and Isaiah 49:12. While the context of Isaiah 43:1-6 would have been that of the nation of Israel, the passage further portrays a gathering of all nations in Isaiah 43:7-10. The prophecy seems to shift to include language not limited to the nation of Israel, but uses terms like “my sons”, “my daughters”, and “even every one that is called by My name.” When Jesus tells of this gathering into the kingdom of heaven from the east and west, He makes a point of Gentile inclusion. The language of Gentile inclusion was present in Isaiah 43:1-10 and it is present in the language of Jesus. Not all Israelites will be welcomed in, and not all Gentiles will be shut out. Isaiah 49 is more complex, but a simple reading of the passage noting verses 6 and 22 shows that verse 12 should include Gentiles being gathered into the kingdom of heaven.
Since Jesus is pointing out that Gentiles will be gathered into the kingdom of heaven while Israelites are thrown out, what would many Israelites have thought about this kingdom of heaven that Jesus was preaching? Also remember that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not Israelites, yet they were considered the patriarchs of the nation of Israel. What was the characteristic for which they were most esteemed? What are the two characteristics that we have now seen which are required for entrance into the kingdom of heaven? See Mark 1:15 and Acts 20:21. (Answers are faith and repentance.)
We also had a discussion on the location of this kingdom. Where are they being gathered to? Is it up to heaven or here on earth?
Matthew 8:14-17 ~ Jesus bears our sicknesses. Matthew again points out the healing power of Jesus. Then he makes a surprising point about fulfilled prophecy. Matthew states that these healings were done to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 53:4. Not all translations render this accurately. Here it is in the Holman Christian Standard Version which helps more so than any other translation [that I have found] when it comes to comparing to Matthew 8:17.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like one people turned away from;
He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.
Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
Note: I think some translators had a problem with seeing Jesus as “a man of pain who knew sickness”. That is literally what it says. “He has borne our sickness and carried our pain.” That one is more understandable, but the Hebrew words are the same. “Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” simply does not capture the Hebrew and that is reflected by Matthew’s insight into this passage.
Read Isaiah 53:3-6. Matthew states that the reason for the healing miracles is because Jesus came to take upon Himself everything related to sickness, suffering, and even sin. At the home of Simon Peter this was brought to fulfillment. Some people believe that the word “fulfilled” means completed or in the past. This is not so. It means “filled to the full”. The prophecy of Isaiah was not completed and put in the past because Jesus has many more people He will heal, and He has yet to take the sins of the world upon Him at the cross. Jesus healed these people that we might know His role as the suffering servant to take it all upon Him, sicknesses, pains, and even sin. What does this have to do with the kingdom of heaven? Should we mention the healing power of Jesus when preaching the gospel?
Class closed with a very good discussion on how healing is an essential part of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is healing. The power of the Kingdom of Heaven was being demonstrated by Jesus Christ as there was nothing He could not heal. The Kingdom of Heaven will be a place where nothing cannot be healed.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman