“For Our Temporal and Eternal Good”
Jesus came to earth for many reasons. He came to glorify His Father—and, thus, to vindicate His honor against sin, death, the grave, and the evil one. He came to atone for sin and thus, to redeem a people. He also came to do us good—as regards eternity, to be sure, but also concerning the things of this life. Let us hear more of this as we hear this portion of Matthew’s Spirit-led Gospel read and proclaimed in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
We find Jesus traveling as our text opens. He traveled throughout all Galilee, which lay in the northern part of the Holy Land. Jesus lived most of His earthly life in Galilee, and it is fitting that His public ministry begins there. Jesus, like His Father and ours, always is working. Let us see what He is doing.
Jesus, while traveling, teaches in the synagogues of Galilee. He teaches from the Scriptures extant, in God’s good providence, at the time—what we call the Old Testament. Jesus, as He teaches from the Old Testament, shows both how He is the sole fulfillment of Scripture and that He the hoped-for, promised, long-awaited Messiah that those Scriptures declare.
Jesus also comes preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. The content of Jesus’ preaching includes repentance and forgiveness of sins. This is good news indeed, but there is much more. Upon our repentance, and upon receipt of God’s gracious forgiveness in Christ—and these by faith in Him—we have life both abundant and eternal. Jesus came preaching the Gospel, the Good News, of the Kingdom—a Kingdom that denotes His eternal righteous reign. We shall participate in that Kingdom, and we also shall participate in Jesus’ righteous reign over all. So far we have staggering good news for souls, and yet there is more.
Jesus came healing, and He came healing all diseases and afflictions among the people. He healed people from sickness, and he alleviated the weakness resulting from such sickness. Never forget, beloved, that when Jesus wills to heal, no sickness, weakness, or injury can linger. Just note the litany of afflictions—for which there were few natural remedies then, and for which even today natural remedies are but vain. Jesus heals of every type of physical infirmity, and He worked numerous healings during His early earthly ministry in Galilee. These healings both displayed His Person and validated His message. In fact, the miraculous signs riveted attention on Jesus, Who, through the Gospel, provided healing of more fundamental concerns.
News of Jesus’ ministry spread wide from Galilee. The news—yea, the Good News—spread northward to Syria (where Damascus, that ancient city, stood), southward to Jerusalem and to Judea, and eastward to the Decapolis and the region across the Jordan River. This news, evidently, spread quickly and widely—and the spread of this news accomplished an expected end.
Crowds thronged to Him. My wooden translation of the underlying Greek text is many crowds or much crowds. More than one large group, themselves merging to form a massive group of humanity, came to Jesus. Many came, ostensibly, for relief of physical suffering, as described here. Some may see in Jesus a geo-political solution for their current problems in that sphere—especially the hated Roman presence and the elite Jewish collaboration with Rome—and they hope that Jesus becomes for them a political deliverer. Hence, they follow Him. Still others may sense that their souls are not right with God. They may sense that their souls are beset with sin—due to transgressions of God’s good Law and omissions of good works enjoined upon us by that Law. Hence, they—like many of us once did—seek spiritual salvation. Indeed, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Many of us, now found, testify ably to this.
Recall the paralytic lowered through the roof by four others to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12 and parallels). The paralytic’s presenting need was self-evident—to wit, paralysis. Yet he had a more fundamental need that none but Jesus saw: salvation via the forgiveness of sins. To the assembled throng that day, Jesus asked, “Which is harder, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed, and walk’?” To the paralyzed man Jesus gave both. He gave the man salvation, and deliverance from paralysis, both to show that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sin and to do the man good: temporally and eternally.
Jesus came to do us good: temporally and eternally. When He wills, He heals our diseases, binds our injuries, and strengthens us when weakened. When He wills, He also does other good things for us in this world. He provides for our needs always, and He provides beyond our needs—sometimes far beyond them—at times when it pleases Him and, consequently, is good for us. The Lord also protects us from harm and from those who would harm us. In addition to these, the Lord crowns our lives with other good things (fair weather when it occurs, good company and good relations, etc.). Jesus also came to do us eternal good. He offers us pardon for sin and abundant, eternal life with Him. These offers become ours in fact through faith in Him—a gift itself from God (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10). Therefore, receive, and continue to receive Jesus—and His good things—by faith in Christ Jesus, the Lord.