Matthew 9:35

THE THREEFOLD WORK

Matt. 9:35

And Jesus made a tour of all the towns and villages, teaching in synagogues, and heralding forth the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every illness.

Here in one sentence we see the threefold activity which was the essence of the life of Jesus.

(i) Jesus was the herald. The herald is the man who brings a message from the king: Jesus was the one who brought a message from God. The duty of the herald is the proclamation of certainties; preaching must always be the proclamation of certainties. No church can ever be composed of people who are certain, as it were, by proxy. It is not only the preacher who must be certain. The people must be certain too.

There never was a time when this certainty was more needed than it is today. Geoffrey Heawood, headmaster of a great English public school, has written that the great tragedy and problem of this age is that we are standing at the cross-roads, and the signposts have fallen down.

Beverley Nichols once wrote a book composed of interviews with famous people. One of the interviews was with Hilaire Belloc, one of the most famous of English Roman Catholics. After the interview Nichols wrote: “I was sorry for Mr. Belloc because I felt that he had nailed at least some of his colours to the wrong mast; but I was still sorrier for myself and for my own generation, because I knew that we had no colours of any kind to nail to any mast.”

We live in an age of uncertainty, an age when people have ceased to be sure of anything. Jesus was the herald of God, who came proclaiming the certainties by which men live; and we too must be able to say, “I know whom I have believed.”

(ii) Jesus was teacher. It is not enough to proclaim the Christian certainties and let it go at that; we must also be able to show the significance of these certainties for life and for living. The importance and the problem of this lie in the fact that we teach Christianity, not by talking about it, but by living it. It is not the Christian’s duty to discuss Christianity with others, so much as it is to show them what Christianity is.

A writer who lived in India writes like this: “I remember a British battalion, which like most battalions came to parade service because they had to, sang hymns they liked, listened to the preacher if they thought him interesting, and left the Church alone for the rest of the week. But their rescue work at the time of the Quetta earthquake so impressed a Brahmin that he demanded immediate baptism, because only the Christian religion could make men behave like that.”

The thing which taught that Brahmin what Christianity was like was Christianity in action. To put this at its highest: our duty is not to talk to men about Jesus Christ, but to show him to them. A saint has been defined as someone in whom Christ lives again. Every Christian must be a teacher, and he must teach others what Christianity is, not by his words, but by his life.

(iii) Jesus was healer. The gospel which Jesus brought did not stop at words; it was translated into deeds. If we read through the gospels, we will see that Jesus spent far more time healing the sick, and feeding the hungry, and comforting the sorrowing than he did merely talking about God. He turned the words of Christian truth into the deeds of Christian love. We are not truly Christian until our Christian belief issues in Christian action. The priest would have said that religion consists of sacrifice; the Scribe would have said that religion consists of Law; but Jesus Christ said that religion consists of love.

Back to: THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

Back to: Barclay’s Commentary

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