Sunday, January 22, 2017

Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
 16 the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
Matthew 4:12-25 (ESV)
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.
What Matthew is doing here in this last little bit of Matthew chapter four is summarizing all that is about to follow. It’s a rather common thing to do in storytelling. What will follow in this gospel are records of how Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom, say for instance in the Sermon on the Mount that follows immediately in chapter five, and stories of how he healed various sick and possessed people, like the leper or the centurions servant in chapter 8. The gospel of the kingdom and the healing of the sick went together.  It was for these reasons he came and it was for these reason that he chose disciples to follow and learn from him, so that through them he could continue to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom through his church.

The gospel of the kingdom, It translates the good news of the kingdom. And the good news of the kingdom was the news that the kingdom was at hand. It was joyous news. People had waited for this kingdom to come and now it was here, but where? The people couldn’t quite see it, even though it was right in front of their eyes. They often missed it, even as we often miss it. For sure in manifested itself in the healing of the sick, the lame the possessed and the insane. But somehow that wasn’t quite what they were expecting of the kingdom. So no matter how nice they might have thought it was to have their loved one’s healed they still wanted to see the kingdom.
The kingdom was embodied, the kingdom is embodied in her king, Jesus Christ our Lord. His kingdom is found wherever he is found. Where he is found he reigns, and where he reigns his subjects live in freedom from sin death and the devil, because he does not reign through the law but in love that fulfills the law, and in the forgiveness of sins the gospel itself.
He reigns in love. He doesn’t care to cajole, harangue or threaten his subjects. He knows who they are. He knows their infirmities, and he knows their weakness. He knows the only cure is the forgiveness of sins, and so his love for us leads him to the cross that our sins can be forgiven and we can receive his love, and live in his love that living in his love we would love him our king and love those whom he loves those for whom he died.
And this has a healing effect. This is true throughout the history of the church that has always had a special relation with those who cure and heal the sick. It is not coincidence that Luke, the evangelist and disciple of Paul was a physician. That the church is responsible for the development of hospitals and universities where the medial arts have continued to be studied and advanced.
No, it’s not a mere hope for the glories to come but a manifestation of his love in this world, in this world where Jesus Christ came to show his love in his death and bring hope with his resurrection. It’s this love of Jesus that creates his church, this love of Jesus overcomes our weakness and washes it away in Holy Baptism. It is this love he shares with you when he gives you his body and his blood in the bread and the wine for the forgiveness of sins.

Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

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