Among the People

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.”
 (Matthew 4:23–25)

I’m working on Matthew 4:12-25 this week and after many readings of the text it’s starting to open up to me.  This portion of the text constantly refers to Galilee which is meant to draw our attention to a particular area and milieu that Jesus is doing his work within. Later in v. 23, as you can see above, it says that we find Jesus working “among the people.” This grabs my attention as a central theme that Matthew’s Gospel has been building on since the genealogy.

For Jesus, the work is always “among the people.”

He moves out “beyond Jordan” where John’s work was to extend the mission even further into the rural workers of his day. If we think that ordinary people cannot bring adequate reflection on the nature of faith, or be the building blocks of the movement of God in the world, than we have failed to understand what Jesus is doing here. In our churches and seminaries today we struggle with the practice of valuing, listening and learning from “the people” because we want to have “beautiful” buildings, “beautiful” “orthodox” theology,  and “beautiful” people all represented within our institutions. Jesus’ work with “those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics…” and his calling of four fisherman (v. 18-22) point to a radically different orientation to ministry. This is the Son of Man doing contextual theology and practice long before it had a name. These were the people who Jesus first announces that “the Kingdom of heaven is among you,” and these are the very people who carry the divine seed throughout human history.

May we continue to find ways to move “beyond Jordan” so that Christ might find us doing work among the people.