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They were fishers…

Matthew 4:12-23

12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (KJV)

Overview of Matthew 4:12-23

They were fishers

They weren’t aristocrats, they weren’t priests, or philosophers, professional mercernaries of Rome or the ruling class of Jerusalem. They were coarse, broad-shouldered, illiterate men whose schooling had consisted of a life on the unforgiving and tempestuous Sea of Galilee.

They were Galileans -- disdained by Rome and Israel alike -- they were the first to pick up arms and the last to lay them down; they were thought of as traitors, terrorists, and troublemakers.  On their soil, the greatest victories and defeats of ancient Israel had been fought.

Galilean fisherman; why build your religion on uncouth laborers when Jesus could have picked the finest minds in the world?

Yet, Jesus wasn't building a religion—or even a movement.  He wasn't thinking strategically or acting clandestinely.  He was loving unconditionally.  He didn’t pick these disciples (except for Matthew), they came to him.  Jesus took the first people he saw as he walked out of the desert and back towards Galilee; he took who God sent him—he didn’t handpick the greatest minds of his time.  It was all about God's will and zilch about his own.  If God wanted a church of laborers,..then who was Jesus to seek royalty?

Right from the start of Christ’s ministry something fundamental occurs.  From these first disciples on, subtle lines were being drawn.  Those who considered following Jesus would look at his uncouth disciples and either say; “If he accepts them—maybe he will take me.”  Or, “I’m not going to hang around people like that!”

Ultimately, our relationship with God also hinges on those two questions. Would I be comfortable with the crowd that picked Jesus?

Matthew 4:12

12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed

With John’s arrest, Jesus takes two strategic actions.  First, he gets out of Herod Antipas’ reach.  Jesus would tell his own disciples they needed to be, "wise as serpents and gentle as doves," in other words, 'lknow what the enemy is up to and respond with the power of the Holy Spirit."  Jesus is merely taking his own advice. 

He sees that Satan is using the Herod family to attack him (as the Evil One had done shortly after Christ’s birth). Our Lord knows that it was not yet time for his sacrifice; the church had still to find its roots.  So, Jesus makes a hard choice; he retreats into the depths of Galilee and regroups.  Our Lord is not running from his death, he is picking the right time for it.  He is picking his battles strategically—unwilling to waste his precious life on every gauntlet thrown in his path. 

Distractions; those are what neutralizes the majority of Christian believers and churches; we fight over stupid and worthless trinkets.  We do not know our central mission and we are not pursuing the vision of Jesus Christ with single-minded fervor.  Instead, churches break up over theological trivia and who left the vacuum cleaner in the wrong closet.

How about us?  Are we wise enough to know when Satan is trying to distract us from our mission?  Is our energy being wasted in gossip and debate when Jesus’ body is suffering in our own backyard? 

Do we need to retreat, regroup, and focus!

Secondly, Jesus begins the critical work of gathering his disciples.  You see Paul doing the same thing.  Always mentoring, always taking people with him on his missionary journeys.

We need to consider one more critical point here before we can continue.  Jesus did not go to Galilee to gather an army to fight for John’s release.  Our Lord’s disciples never "got this," even right up to the very end when Peter draws a sword and slashes at the ear of an arresting guard.  Jesus was seeking followers who would be willing to die for their testimony (a word which means martyr).  Herein is the mystery of our savior; it is not an army to defend him that he seeks—it is disciples who will love the weak like him.

Let’s retreat into the Lord.  Let’s find out where he is calling us to follow.  Let’s focus on the causes worth dying for and quit being frozen by distractions.  Jesus is ready to send us into the world—let’s make sure that we are not among those who are left at home because we cannot decide which vestments would be ceremonially correct for the occasion.

Word Study

  • He retired into Galilee, [GSN402 anachoreo (an-akh-o-reh'-o)]; this term is best understood when divided into its two root words ana [GSN303] and choreo [GSN5562].  It is like saying; “He habitually found space.”  This is what Jesus was doing in Galilee and he did it every time in his ministry that he had to make a significant choice.  We might call this a "retreat," because the meaning is the same. To "habitually find space" is a sign of a healthy Christ-centered follower.

Matthew 4:13-16

13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

That it might be fulfilled…

“That it might be fulfilled [GSN4137 pleroo]…”  Matthew uses this term a total of fourteen times in his writings to express how the birth, death and life of Jesus "made full" or "completed the contract" of God.  Each time Matthew uses it; it refers to an Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah.  Here are some examples in which we have already seen this term used in Matthew’s Gospel:

Matthew 1:22-23

[22] Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, [23] “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” (NAS)

Matthew 2:14-15

[14] And he arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt; [15] and was there until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Out of Egypt did I call My Son.” (NAS)

Matthew 2:17-18

[17] Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, [18] “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” (NAS)

Matthew 3:14-15

[14] But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”
[15] But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit {it} at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. (NAS)

Once again we see the theme of Matthew surface repeatedly throughout his writings: 1) Jesus is the Messiah prophesied about throughout the Old Testament; he has arrived!  2) This Jesus is also the Messiah who will return.  The Messiah has come; the Messiah will return; this is the point of Matthew’s Gospel.

There is no way to read Matthew aside from this word "pleroo"; fulfilled.  In Matthew’s mind; there was no other explanation for Jesus except that he was the Promised One who came and will be the Promise One to come.  We must always remember these bookends and never forget our role.  For we are the ones commissioned to carry that promise to the ends of the earth.

Matthew 28:19-20

[19] “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NAS)

Will Jesus find us in the field 'lfilling full" (pleroo) his promises?

Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

At the very beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he accomplishes five strategic tasks:

  • He gives himself to God as an obedient servant (Baptism);
  • He "retreats" into extended prayer in order to understand how Satan will attack him (fasting in the desert);
  • He leads by transparent example (“Come and see”);
  • He clarifies his mission statement (“I have come to proclaim good news to the poor”);
  • And, he begins to instill that mission into what will become the root of the church (gathering the twelve).

In verse 13-16, Matthew wants to once again affirm the prophesied role of Jesus, the Messiah.  He sets Jesus’ mission in context of Isaiah’s prophecy: “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” 

Over the years, we have diminished this statement that bursts with promise upon a darkened world into something as menial as; “You better stop sinning because someday you’re going to hell.”  In comparison to what Christ said, that is like associating the winter skeleton of an apple tree with the same tree in its fall fullness; laden with fruit and ripe with blessing.  The depth of what Jesus says cannot be reduced to a mere highway warning sign; “Cliff ahead… use extreme caution!”  Instead, Jesus tells us; “Cliff ahead… Get ready to fly!” 

When he says, Repent [GSN3340 metanoeo],” he is calling us to a higher (meta) knowing (gnoia).  The term means total reversal, paradigm shift, or greater intimacy.  It is as though we are hearing Christ call; “Completely turn around your whole way of looking at life, the eternal joy of God is finally no farther than my breath!”

Why gasp in misery for air when the entire breath of God is available to us right here, right now?  Jesus isn’t chasing people to heaven with the misery of a worse life than they are already experiencing (have you ever seen a shepherd try and chase sheep)?  Our Lord is inviting us to an abundant life resounding in hope; resplendent in peace and founded in salvation—a peace this world can neither understand nor take away!  Contrasting the weak pleasures of this world to the grandeur of the Godly life is akin to contrasting the cynicism of today's television comedies with watching the joy of a mother with her newborn baby. 

Why live for a joy that would produce anything less?

What encumbrance keeps me from the joy of Jesus?  Can I not give that to him with the ultimate trust that he can restore me?  Our Lord longs to restore us?  He delights in our restoration?

Word Study

  • Repent [GSN3340 metanoeo (met-an-o-eh'-o); this term means to completely change your way of thinking; your paradigm, the entire way that you perceive the world.  It is a call to higher knowledge—or more appropriately in the language of the incarnate—a more intimate relationship with God himself.
  • The Kingdom [GSN932 basileia (bas-il-i'-ah); is less a place than a way of being.  In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus differentiates between the Kingdom and Heaven.  The kingdom is available when we do the will of God (on earth and in heaven).
  • Heaven [GSN3772 ouranos (oo-ran-os'); this term would be like saying, "all of eternity in this moment and this moment throughout all of eternity."  Scripture does not lead us to believe that heaven will find us in any different spiritual place than we are now—a physically different place—but not a spiritually different place.  It will just be our current spiritual life "fulfilled (made full)."  If you are full of joy now; imagine being full of joy without encumbrances.  If you are devoid of joy now—filled with anger and unforgiving—hell will be that spiritual reality made full.
  • At hand [GSN1448 eggizo (eng-id'-zo)]: When Jesus came to earth the kingdom of heaven was "at hand.''  The term means near or close.  We might say that in Jesus, the kingdom of heaven came so close as to be but a prayer (a breath) away.

Matthew 4:18

18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

They were fishers.

Let this thought seep in; they were not scholars, they were not warriors, they were not priests, they were fishers.  They were men who eked out a living with oar-hardened hands and broad sun-burnt shoulders.  They were not afraid to work, they were used to hardship and they faced death everyday in a job that is still among the most dangerous in the world.  What they lacked in scholarly training—they made up for in sweat.

Yet, think about this.  When a fisherman says; “He called me and I gave my life for him.”  Who, in turn would argue; “Well, I can’t be as great as them—they were scholars / princes / wealthy aristocrats.”

No, the response of most people would be; “Wow, if Jesus loved him, he could surely love me!”  “If Jesus used him for a leader—maybe he could even use me.”

However, there might be one exception to this statement and that would be the man who would say; “I’m not going to be found with the likes of them!”

That statement is the padlock on the gates of hell.  Christ’s special vehemence was saved for those people; the religiously righteous.  I need to be so careful with these words—for they are scary indeed.  How often those words could slip into the crevasses of my own mind.  There are few sharper arrows in the quiver of Satan than the subtle words of pre-judgment.

“Flee!”  We must run for our spiritual lives from those thoughts of self-righteousness.  When quietly whispered in our ears, they come from a forked tongue.  Indeed, “those people,” are the very people that God made into his most intimate companions!

“They were fishers…”

Boozing, carousing, hard-core malcontents who left their nets for Jesus.  What power, what attraction the Lord must have had in order to call hardened men from their revelry!  In order to truly understand and apply this principle we need to ask; “Where would I find such people in my community?”  “What would call them to become leaders of Christ at the forefront?”

If I want to find Jesus; those are the places where I should go and the people that I should embrace.  What would it look like to have a church full of the outcast?  A church filled with sinners?  But isn’t it true that a church is either filled with sinners or liars anyway?

Matthew 4:19

19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men

Fish came from the sea, fishermen came from the sea, but salt also came from the sea.  The root word for fisherman was also the root word for sea salt.

In the very next chapter, our Lord will refer to this salt.  “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savior, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. [Matthew 5.13].” KJV

Jesus accepted Peter, Andrew, James and John, first as fishers.  In essence, he took them as they were and transformed them into what God intended them to be—not salt of the sea but the salt of the earth.  Jesus will do the same for each one of us.  Once touched by the Messiah, staying the same is not an option (we can see above what happens to salt that loses its flavor).

All of God’s saints were ''something else" before they became a "new thing" (creation) in Christ.  These four were fishermen.  Paul was a persecutor, Augustine of Hippo was a carouser, Francis of Assisi was a rich brat, Mother Theresa was a nun teaching in an exclusive private school.  Who were you before Christ called you and what does he call you to be now?

Christ’s words could quite literally mean; “Put your life in my care and I will take you from meaninglessness to purpose in a heartbeat; from inmate to witness, from illness to healer, from retiree to bridge-builder, from housewife to word of life, from death to life.

Often, our greatest sin is that we don’t allow this transformation.  We allow Satan to hold us bound with "what we were" and because of our guilt, shame or even pride; we refuse to change into what Jesus would have us become. 

What keeps me from transitioning from "salt of the sea" to "salt of the earth?"  From a fisherman to a fisher of men?  Won’t our Lordtake that encumbrance if I but humbly offer it to him?  If he can take "fishermen" can he not take me?  In the end, the Apostles did not teach a new church how to fish; they taught the new church how to love Jesus and accept his forgiveness.  That is our call; that is what the church must excel at; that is what I must excel at as well.

Word Study

  • Follow me [GSN3694 opiso (op-is'-o)]; get behind me or place yourself in my care.  This is the word from which we derive "bishop"—the person who places him or herself under or behind the Lord.  Have we "gotten behind" Christ yet?  He uses this term a number of times (once very unpleasantly to Peter when the "Rock" tries to stand between the Lord and the cross).  Are we still trying to "jump ahead" of Jesus?  Are we still trying to say; “Listen Lord, your servant is speaking?”  It is time to change seats and let the Lord have his rightful place in our lives.  Only then, can we become "fishers of men.''
  • I will make you [GSN4160 poieo (poy-eh'-o)]; I will appoint you—I will ordain and fulfill you.  Our Lord’s ordination is not just for the learned few; it is for all who follow him.  The disciples had two years of walking with Jesus; however the man possessed by a Legion of demons had only minutes.  His testimony was the truest of all: “You know what I was and you can see what I am now—all because of Jesus.”
  • Fishers [GSN231 halieus (hal-ee-yoos')]; “I will make you ‘fishers’, or even, ‘the salt’ of the earth."  Am I salt to those around me?  Am I truly out fishing for the lost?  Too many of us are armchair fishers.  We like to do our fishing by osmosis; through the television set as it were.  We let others go to the front because we no longer like to get our hands dirty or our backs burned.  The call of Jesus is a call to the frontlines not the sidelines.

Matthew 4:20-22

[20] And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. [21] And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. [22] And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

Straightway, they left their nets

The chronology is interesting here.  Jesus "converts" to the apostles (see last week’s reading, John 1:34-42), then our Lord goes on to a confrontation at his home "church" in Nazareth and apparently sends the three new converts to their home during that time as well.

What do the apostles do during that time?

The answer may be evident in the choice of Jesus’ words.  First, we know from Luke that Jesus went home to make his initial invitation to his own household and village.  On the way, he was not lax in his work—for many miracles occurred during that trip.

Second, we see the three were not idle either, for the brother of John is now a follower of the Christ.  We can also tell that the household of John and James (Zebedee) and the household of Andrew and Peter were now prepared for the Lord’s arrival.  The interesting term that Matthew attributes for the Apostle’s "immediate response to Jesus was, "Aphiemi."  It means to 'llay everything aside" or, more pointedly, to "forgive."

Therein is the chronology of deep conversion.

  • The need for God prompts us to seek Him;
  • The beauty of God prompts to desire Him before all else;
  • The love of God prompts us to forgive and seek forgiveness from those we’ve wounded or those who—in our judgment—have wounded us (forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors). 
  • Then, the call of Christ—once set free of the burden of sin—bids us to the mission of Christ: “To preach good news to the poor.”

Laying aside my nets (sins) and seeking forgiveness was not a private prayer—it was the follower’s initial act of communal healing.  Religion (from the term; "rebinding torn ligaments") is primarily an act of healing.  Sin wounds us, God heals us, and repentance rebinds us so that we can love unencumbered.  Where am I in this plan of conversion today?

No doubt, my wounds may have already prompted me toward Jesus.  Possibly, I have even seen and been drawn to the incredible face of his love.  However, have I taken the communal step; am I unencumbered today?  What am I carrying in my backpack right now that may keep me from loving each and every person that God sends my way?
Is there a Capernaum in my life to which I need to return on this day?

One note, just remember—please—we can only offer and seek forgiveness; that is our Godly call.  However, we cannot control the acceptance or rejection of that offer.  Leave that in God’s hands; we must strive to live each day FOR-GIVING.

Word Study

  • Straightway, they departed [GSN2112 eutheos (yoo-theh'-oce)]; this was young Mark’s favorite word and it is wonderful to see it used by the careful, logical, accounting-mind of Matthew.  There was no hesitancy in the apostle’s following of Jesus; this didn’t mean there weren’t any fears.  However, their desire to be close to Jesus overruled all reason and all logic.  They left everything for him.  I love this because when Matthew writes these words he too is one who "straightway" followed Jesus.  He is the only disciple that Jesus sought out (the other’s sought out Jesus and our Lord accepted them).  But Matthew, he is sitting at his tax collection table when the Lord boldly walks up to him and says; “follow me.”  Matthew -- a tax collector and traitor to his own people -- leaves the money on the table and walks away "straightway."
  • They left [GSN863 aphiemi (af-ee'-ay-mee)]; this is such an important term in the Gospels; "They left their nets.”  The word is used over and over for laying aside, putting away or forgiving.  When the disciples "left their nets'' behind on that day; they left more than their livelihood.  They left their sins and hang-ups on the shoreline.  They were far from perfect, they were far from leaders; but they were not far from Jesus and that’s all that matterd.  Jesus does not call us to perfection, but instead to be perfectly focused and perfectly forgiven.  Have I left my nets behind?
  • Followed him [GSN190 akoloutheo (ak-ol-oo-theh'-o)]; this is a word of in-depth commitment.  It doesn’t mean that they were following Jesus to the corner store or even to church on Sunday.  It meant they became his disciples.  They knowingly and willingly left their livelihoods behind and "walked in the same way" as Jesus.  Where were they headed?  Not to an earthly destination; but to a metanoeo—a more intimate relationship with the one, true God of the universe.

Matthew 4:23

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

Preaching Teaching and Healing

Preaching, teaching and healing—talk about a weekly to-do list!  A number of years ago a very good slogan began showing up on bracelets and T-Shirts.  WWJD: What Would Jesus Do?  This verse tells us exactly what he did; he taught, preached and healed.  To follow Jesus is to go where he would go and do what he would do.  My weekly task list should look like his weekly task list.

Monday Teach, preach and heal
Tuesday Teach, preach and heal
Wednesday Teach, preach and heal
Thursday Teach, preach and heal
Friday Teach, preach and heal
Saturday Teach, preach and heal
Sunday Retreat and Renew with Jesus

Many people don't believe in miracles anymore but the truth is that we won't see what the apostle's saw if we don't go where Jesus went and do what Jesus did. If we commit to that -- if we lay down our nets and leave our "taxes (ill-gotten gains)" on the table -- we can expect our lives to see the fruits of Christ:

Matthew 4:24-25

[24] And the news about Him went out into all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. [25] And great multitudes followed Him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and {from} beyond the Jordan. (NAS)

Let’s take a little deeper look at the weekly to-do’s of our Lord so that we might better practice them ourselves:

  • Teach [GSN1321 didasko];

The word for teach in Greek means both to teach and to learn, in fact the direct translation would be the ''way of teaching'' or the "way of learning."  The more I teach the Gospel (and the more varied the environments in which I teach; jails, detention centers, rest homes, shelters), the more my understanding of people and the Gospel will increase.  Can we say that Jesus learned?  To say that he didn’t would be to say he was a bore.  The teacher who doesn’t continue to learn from his/her students should find another profession.

  • Preach [GSN2784 kerusso] the Gospel [GSN 2098 euaggelion];

To preach means to stand in a public place and "cry out" the king’s news (a town crier).  However, the preaching of Jesus was always backed up with action.  If I am standing in a public square "crying out the king’s news" without the king’s power to back it up then I am worse than a nuisance; I am a fraud.  I am taking the name of the King without the approval of the King.

Jesus backed up his words with acts of healing.  Do I?  Read on… for we are all called to be healers in the name of the Gospel.

  • Heal [GSN2323 Therpeuo];

The word used for the healing act of Jesus is "Therpeuo" [GSN2323] and it differs from the word for physician [GSN2390 iaomai]; indeed, it is closer to the term for "therapist." 

My brother is a physical therapist.  He doesn’t prescribe drugs or cut people open.  Instead, the focus of his work is teaching people how to rebuild damaged muscles and joints.  However, his work is only as good as the patient’s commitment.  He can create a perfect plan of care to help a patient recover the use of a damaged shoulder, back or knee.  Yet, until the patient participates in the plan of care it is just ink on paper.

Nazareth did not see the healing power of Jesus because they did not participate [Luke 4:21-31] in the cure.  Jesus is the therapist who came with the perfect "plan of care," but we alone decide whether to follow or reject that plan.
Many times after Jesus heals someone, he follows up the incident (action) with the statement (preaching); “Go your faith has healed you.”  There are even cases where Jesus would say; “You’re faith has healed him/her” (as in the Samaritan woman who begged for the healing of her daughter and the Roman Centurion who pleaded for the life of a servant).

Jesus, the ultimate healer never hesitated to point the injured towards the source of all healing: Faith.  The term for faith in Greek [GSN4102 pistis] means more than a moral conviction; it also means fidelity, reliance and a deep enough persuasion to act on my beliefs.  That’s what brought healing to these people.  They had the courage to "cry out in public" regarding their deep need for the Lord.  In Hebrew, the term is èmeth [HSN571].  It means stability and trustworthiness.  Faith implies faithfulness; actions based upon faith. 

When was the last time I acted on faith?  The last time I truly pushed myself beyond what was comfortable to me?  The last time I sought to apply my faith and not just talk about it in a congregation of like-minded believers?

The term for healing means so much more than relieving disease; it also means to be a menial servant or to adore God.  The more I work with wounded people; the more I learn that nothing heals like serving others and adoring God.  I have seen people dying of cancer become "clothed in light" when they began to use their last breaths to encourage others and praise God.  I have seen the incarcerated become ministers, the homeless become more pastoral than most of us in churches could ever hope to become.

What was it that Jesus healed?  All types of disorders [GSN3554 nosos]; the term includes infirmity and sickness—but, also moral disability.  Not in the terms of a malady, a disease, or a crippled limb—those are merely symptoms.  Jesus healed disorder, "DIS-ORDER"; disintegrated order or, more familiarly, chaos.

Two days ago, I had a one-on-one session with a young man in our local jail.  He asked for a meeting because he was considering suicide.  He told me that voices had been filling his head telling him to kill himself.  I could see the panic on his face and sleeplessness in his eyes as he desperately asked for assistance.

He was living in a mental and physical world of chaos—and that is what the Christ would heal.  In a couple of questions, I learned that he was just off the streets where he had been using methamphetamines.  This demon was still attacking the young man’s system and demanding that a) it be satiated, or b) that the young man die trying to fulfill it.  Secondly, I learned that he had been previously diagnosed with clinical depression but was unable to afford the treatment.

My first response was to take his hands, to tell him to look in my eyes and breathe with my rhythm.  Together we drew long and deep breaths.  Then, I asked him to pray a simple breath prayer with me; “Come, Lord Jesus.”  “Come, Holy Spirit.”

With every breath we petitioned God to fill the room with his presence and heal our hunger.

Immediately, I could see his face begin to relax.  There was another Christian in the jail pod that agreed to pray this simple prayer with the young man whenever he came under attack.  Finally, we all agreed that the guards and the nurse needed to be aware of the situation so he could receive long-term treatment for his depression.

This young man’s problems weren’t just from a lack of sleep.  It wasn’t just depression.  It wasn’t just detoxification.  It was the horrific combination of all these assailing demons bombarding him with confusion and darkness.  Jesus always healed the confusion and then the dis-ease.  In John 5:1-9, Jesus asks the crippled man; “Do you wish to get well?” before he heals him—he gives him the "option" for wholeness.  In Mark 2:4-11 and Luke 5:19-26 Jesus first forgives the sins of the man lowered through the ceiling before healing him of his paralysis.

In every case, the healing of disease, illness, or paralysis was always accompanied by chaos.  Jesus not only healed the diseases—he also healed the disorder; he healed chaos.

In the beginning, God turned chaos into cosmos—disorder to order.  He is still willing to do that in each of our lives today and he commissions us to do that for each other.  I may only be a fisherman.  I may even be unemployed—as was the writer of this gospel once he followed Jesus—but I have been "set apart" (ordained) for the purpose of the Lord—to teach, preach and heal—wherever I am; whatever I do.

Word Study

  • Teach [GSN1321 didasko (did-as'-ko)]; a prolonged (causative) form of a primary verb dao (to learn); to teach (in the same broad application): KJV -- teach.
  • Preach [GSN2784 kerusso (kay-roos'-so)]; heralding (like a public cryer),
  • The Gospel [GSN 2098 euaggelion (yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on)]; going out like an angel sent with the task of declaring God's plan,
  • Heal [Therpeuo [GSN2323]; a menial servant / relieving disease / being a therapist / adoring God, euaggelion (yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on);
  • All types [GSN3956 pas (pas)]; any type of disorder / restoring disease to wholeness,
  • Disease [GSN3554 nosos (nos'-os)]; infirmity and sickness—but, also moral disability

About the Author

Jerry Goebel is a community organizer who started ONEFamily Outreach in response to gang violence and youth alienation in a rural community in Southeastern Washington. Since that time, Jerry has worked with communities around the globe to break the systemic hold of poverty by enhancing the strengths of the poor.

A primary philosophy of ONEFamily Outreach is to teach; “poverty is a lack of healthy relationships.” And, a primary focus of ONEFamily Outreach has been to break down the barriers of poverty through creating “cultures of intentional courtesy.”

As well as having developed ongoing mentoring outreaches in his own community, Jerry travels extensively to work with church leaders, community governments, and educators.

Jerry has received five popular music awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, a Best Educational Video Award from the National Catholic Education Association, and a lifetime achievement award from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry for living Gospel Values.

To contact or book Jerry for a presentation in your area write or call:

Jerry Goebel
ONEFamily Outreach
(509) 525-0709

Copyright Notice

Copyright © 2007 Jerry Goebel. All Rights Reserved.  This study may be freely distributed, as long as it bears the following attribution: Source: Jerry Goebel: 2007 ©

Scripture Quotations noted from NASB are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD VERSION of the bible. Copyright © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission. (

The New Testament Greek Lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others; this is keyed to the large Kittel and the “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.” These files are public domain.

The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon is Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon; this is keyed to the “Theological Word Book of the Old Testament.” These files are considered public domain.

NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries. Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. (

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