This passage is right at the start of the ministry of Jesus. So far he has been baptised by John, tempted by the devil, started to preach using the same formulation as John (‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’) and called the first disciples. Now we see Jesus and his team begin their ministry activity throughout Galilee.
The Gospel of the Kingdom – We are told that as Jesus went around teaching in the synagogues, he preached the gospel of the kingdom. This formulation riffs off the way new Roman Emperors were announced, but it was also making clear that the kingdom of God is good news (this is the literal meaning of the word ‘Gospel’). In a world that has been under the kingdom of darkness so long, with death and sickness and sin prevailing, the breaking in of the kingdom of heaven is great news that we should celebrate!
Kingdom Healing – For Jesus, the proclamation of the kingdom and the healing of the sick went hand in hand. In this passage we told of people with all kinds of infirmities being brought to Jesus and healed by him. When Jesus sent out the apostles, he gave the same instruction – to proclaim the kingdom and to heal (Matt 10:7-8). The kingdom of God is something that is both proclaimed with words and demonstrated with signs, and these things should also follow the proclamation of the kingdom today.
The Kingdom Spreads – As Jesus starts his ministry we do not see him constrained to a single base but moving around to different places. The kingdom of God was never meant to be focussed in one geographic location but always had the impulse to ‘go’. In his earthly ministry, Jesus took the kingdom to the towns and villages of Israel, and then after rising from death he commissioned his followers to do the same to the ends of the earth.
- Invite People to Respond to the Gospel – This is a great opportunity to share a simple gospel message and invite people to respond to the good news by putting their trust in Jesus.
- Pray for Healing – The kingdom is still demonstrated through miraculous signs. Create space to pray for healing for those who are sick.
- Call to Go – As Jesus took the gospel to new places, so should we. This could be a good moment to invite people to be part of your next church or site plant or to consider whether God is calling them to go further afield for the sake of the gospel.