Over the next several posts we will be paying attention to the methods Jesus used to make disciples. Jesus is the greatest discipler who ever lived. Let’s learn from his example as we have already determined that each of us are called by Christ to be discipled by Christ. So let’s let him disciple us as we sit at his feet in these texts and learn from him.
Once we have accepted the idea that we are called by Jesus to come and follow him, just like his first disciples were, we look and see what Jesus did next. This is how we build off Jesus’ discipleship methods. First he calls us, then what?
Here is what we get in Matthew 4:23-25,
“23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 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. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. “
Jewish Rabbis (teachers) had one goal in mind. Shape their disciples to be like themselves. They did this in two ways: 1) teach the follower their teaching so they can teach it to others and 2) teach the follower to do what the Rabbi does so they can do it themselves.
This is exactly what we find here. We find Jesus teaching a specific message and doing specific actions.
Before we get to the specifics I want us to pay close attention to another aspect of Jesus’ instruction to his followers (us included). He does these things repeatedly, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues…” He didn’t just teach the same thing over and over because he had new audiences. He taught the same thing over and over because he wanted his disciples to learn the message.
These are the kinds of insights we find when we start reading through the Gospels to see how Jesus actually trained his followers. Jesus was so intentional! We need to sit at his feet as if we were there and learn what he wants his followers to know. Why? So we can do what disciples do – go and tell others the same message.
What was the message?
“The good news of the kingdom”
What were Jesus’ actions he wanted his disciples to learn?
“healing every disease and sickness among the people…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. “
Jesus’ words and his actions are tied together. They are consistent. The good news of the kingdom is the same message as healing diseases and casting out demons because it is all one big liberation message. A new king with a new kingdom has come to town and all the principalities and powers on this earth are being taken to task. Their authority is being challenged. Their hold on humanity is being undermined. This good news of the kingdom is demonstrated in liberation from sickness and spiritual forces of evil (demons). This is why healing and exorcisms are two sides of the same coin – they are both releases from oppressive powers that transitions the person into the glorious freedom in they find in Christ.
Here is the discipleship lesson in all of this.
Jesus wants us to understand the Gospel. He wants us to come face to face with what the good news looks like and sounds like. The more we walk with Jesus the more familiar this message becomes. We do this in our study of the gospels, together. This is very important because Jesus is going to ask us to share these things with someone new so that they too can be called to come and follow Jesus! We cannot do that if we haven’t sat at his feet and learned his ways.
Here is my question – how do we embody the same principles of Jesus’ healing ministry today even if we cannot cast out demons or heal diseases with a command from our mouths?