#14 What the Gospels Teach – Balance – Matthew 4:23-25

Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:23-25 NASB) 

We covered a couple of posts ago that Jesus’ first message was a message of repentance, and if you look back to 4:17 we read that 'From that time Jesus BEGAN to preach and say “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”'  From the word ‘began’ we can imply that this was the beginning of a continual message of repentance, a message that would continue throughout His ministry, and continue on with the ministry of Holy Spirit filled believers.  (See Acts 2)  This message of repentance is incredibly important, and paramount to the Gospel message.  J. Edwin Orr said that “Repent is the very first word of the Gospel.”  I agree.  Now, with that established notice the verses above.  Jesus was going through Galilee, and He was teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.  It is safe to assume that He was continuing on in preaching repentance, but do not miss what else He was doing! 

Notice that Christ is both preaching, and healing.  This is very important... Christ not only preaches but He serves... and Christ not only serves, but He preaches. 

 I met a few months ago with a man who has an outreach to the unhoused in downtown Toledo.  Now He seemed to me to be of the liberal theological persuasion and it seemed that his entire focus was social justice and not resting till everyone was served.  He even told me that these people have heard the gospel a million times, what the need is not the gospel, but food. 

 I have also listened to men speak, the Gideons are notorious for this, about how they are not so much concerned with providing for temporal needs, but more interested in providing the bread of life.  They will say “what good is it to feed people with what is temporary when they need to be filled with what is eternal?”


The problem is that both sides lack biblical balance.  For the liberal who fights primarily for social justice we know ‘that man does not live by bread alone...’ and more over that ‘your life is a vapor...’ and there are a ton of scriptures that affirm the need of the gospel, and I would even argue that the Gospel is primary.


At the same time, Jesus obviously is concerned about Social Justice, and Jesus was much more than just a preacher and sacrifice.  He was a healer, a servant, a friend, and much more.  Recall what James says: 

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. (James 2:14-17 NASB)


The Gospel will not take root apart from service.  This is why street preaching at a distance has little effect in comparison with sharing the Gospel at a mission, soup kitchen, or in the context of service.  This is why you find many churches that have the straightest of doctrine but seem entirely void of the presence of God.  Moreover service apart from the Gospel is vain as well, good deeds for good deeds sake is humanism and only provides temporary relief, and moreover brings little or no glory to God.


Jesus is the example,  and the end of Matthew 4 is an appropriate example of dealing both with ‘felt needs’ and the Gospel of the Kingdom.


I recognize that the last 4 or 5 posts have not been up to par (at least in my estimation) but I imagine they are going to help someone, or at the very least they have helped me.

No comments: