Words and Actions, Actions and Words

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. Matthew 9:35

We are only privy to the details of a few healing miracles. We have no idea what the other diseases and sicknesses were about or how many. On top of that he taught in the synagogues wherever he went. Plus – and this often gets overlooked – he proclaimed the Gospel message, the Good News of the kingdom of heaven.

So what was this Good News that He preached? What did He preach?

From BibleHub, A call to repentance, the promise of the kingdom of heaven, and that he Himself would be in charge of that kingdom.

Because He was healing and teaching in the villages, people would see who He was and what He did for the people. His actions matched His words completely.

That’s not always easy to do nowadays, but not at all impossible.

We just need to supernatural strength to do it.

We need the Holy Spirit daily to remind us whose we are and why we’re here. If someone cuts us off, they cut us off. If someone gossips about us, that’s on them. If someone lays into us at work, we can defend ourselves but not cross the line of maligning that person in person or behind their back.

I know, much easier said than done, but He set the standard, and by the Holy Spirit’s help, we can meet it.

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Ministry is People

32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.” Matthew 9:32-34

Leave it to the Pharisees to throw cold water on a miracle.

As Jesus said elsewhere, it wasn’t logical for the prince of demons to drive out his own kind, but their hatred for Jesus and what He was doing had no end. They were blinded by their own self-righteousness that they couldn’t possibly see the Messiah for who He was. Were they happy for a grown man who could now speak and live a normal life? Probably not. They didn’t seem to be interested in people. Sure, they used them as objects to try to trick Jesus, but they weren’t truly concerned about the people.

There’s a scene in the movie Patch Adams, where the instructing doctor is running down a list of pathologies of a particular patient to his students (in front of the cognizant patient) and asks for questions from the students.

After two questions, Patch Adams asks from the back, “What’s her name?”
“Sorry?”
“What’s the patient’s name?”

The doctor fumbled through the paperwork and found the name. The instructing doctor was so busy imparting knowledge that he didn’t have time to address the patient as a person.

These Pharisees were similar in their approaches. They had no desire to get to know the people Jesus touched and healed. That wasn’t and probably never was their focus. They were out to trap Jesus.

This is merely a reminder that ministry (whatever ministry you’re engaged in) is about people.

Not processes, not tools, not programs, but people.

We may need all of those, but when all is said and done, it’s about the people we minister to.

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The Blind Men Can Finally Talk

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region. Matthew 9:27-31

It’s interesting how these blind men referred to Jesus when they first approached, “Son of David.” Word had spread quickly about this healer Jesus. It had also spread quickly about who He was.

So, why did Jesus warn them not to tell others?

Jesus healed these men indoors, which is significant. He could have performed the miracle outdoors for everyone to see, but He didn’t. He was shielding the men from curious onlookers and gazers. Who wouldn’t want to see exactly when two blind men could see and how this Jesus performed the miracle?

At first I thought Jesus was actually giving them approval to go out, much like He was saying one thing but smiling and believing something totally different. The text is, in fact, a stern warning not to tell others. He was trying to protect them and His early ministry. I know, it was a hard thing to ask the men because it’d be natural to want to tell the whole world what happened.

The text also said that the men went out and told others anyways. To my knowledge nothing untoward happened to the men, but that’s not the point. He told them not to tell others for a reason.

The takeaway from this is the obvious one, when God tells us to refrain from doing something or to do something, it’s for our own good. It’s been captured, written, transcribed multiple times, and is now in our Scripture for a good reason. We may not even know that reason but we don’t have to.

Being obedient to what we know to be true is the important part.

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And They Laughed

23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region. Matthew 9:23-25

The crowd was mourning the way they normally would and Jesus interrupts them.

Then they laughed.

How ridiculous could He be!
Of course she’s dead. We saw her ourselves.
How silly of this man!
Who, who is this man to make such a laughable statement?

Then the girl got up and went out to greet the laughers.

Their laughing had ceased and now they were all about town telling all the townspeople.

People still laugh and mock those who follow Him. Sometimes those mocks are deserved, but more often than not, His followers are being mocked and ridiculed for what they believe in and stand for.

We know, as they say, that Jesus got the last laugh in this instance.

So will we, but until then, we will have to endure this mockery for a while.

Soon, based on what I am seeing in the news and in the culture, that mockery will turn into outright persecution.

Stand firm, though,

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28

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Healing on the Way to a Healing

18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. Matthew 9:18-22

A cursory reading of the New Testament might suggest that most of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were bad or corrupt since most of His interactions with them were largely confrontational.

Obviously this synagogue leader was an exception. Either that or he concerned himself more about his family than what his superiors thought of him. In that respect, it must have taken a lot of courage to approach Jesus, knowing that his actions would be reported to his superiors

As he made his way to the leader’s home, a woman touched Him. She needed a touch from Him. If she could just get close enough, she could get the healing she needed. Jesus commended her for her faith and he immediately gained a follower. The text doesn’t say it but it’s certain to have happened. She would undoubtedly tell friends and relatives about this man named Jesus.

Both of these actions had to drive the religious leaders crazy. Here he was touched by a woman while going to the house of one of their leaders to see a dead child.

But Jesus didn’t concern himself with the leaders or what others thought. He was doing the Father’s will in every situation. Actually He knew that His actions would cause them to complain and argue the Law with Him. Still, no matter. He was taking care of the Father’s business.

How often do we get down to brass tacks, as it were, and do the Father’s business? There is much to distract the average Western Christian, though those distractions are minimized with the ongoing pandemic.

Jesus was focused. There would be a time to debate the naysayers, but real people with real problems needed to be ministered to.

May we experience that kind of determination and focus when ministering to others.

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