We all want to hear news that is good and encouraging. In fact, the Book of Proverbs tells us that “like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land” (Prov. 25:25). Jesus came for this very purpose—to bring good news to weary souls. In Matthew’s account, we are told that “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matt. 4:23). This passage presents the three-fold “good news” ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether in print media, radio, TV or the Internet, the world is saturated with distressing news. Thus, Jesus’ “good news” ministry is apt and responsive to the needs of a world that is oppressive, where many look forward to hearing good news for a change.
Jesus’ coming turned the world upside down. His first “good news” ministry is the teaching ministry. He passionately taught the good news on how one can live a blessed life. These teachings came to be known as the Beatitudes. He further taught his disciples the proper understanding and application of the Law. Up until that time, people were simply looking at the surface of the Law. Yet Jesus said, for instance, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment” (Matt. 5:21-22). These teachings are eye-openers even to us today. Without these revolutionary and expository teachings, we could still be living in sin today without even knowing it.
The second “good news” ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ is the preaching ministry. He came to preach the good news of the kingdom, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17). This message does not seem to be what many would have expected Jesus to preach, being the bearer of good news. Repentance often has a negative connotation, because it brings a message of condemnation. However, this message is exactly what we need in order to be restored back to God and enjoy his blessings. It is repentance that brings hope and without it, we are doomed for destruction. The urgency of Jesus’ message on repentance was expounded by the apostle Paul when he said, “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light…clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Rom. 13:11-13). While we might be quick to judge others for what we see as their evil deeds, we must look at ourselves first and repent. Let us not be overly confident of our own righteousness. Having been informed about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices, Jesus said, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:1-3).
The third “good news” ministry of Jesus is the healing ministry. The good news is that Jesus is our healer; thus, many are rushing to him for healing. They want to be healed and they spend time reading and being taught in his words. However, the good news about his healing grace will not come unless the good news of the kingdom, which is repentance, is received and internalized first. Forgiveness of sin brings about healing. Jesus said to a paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven” (Matt. 9:2). The man got up and went home healed. In another case, a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years touched the cloak of Jesus in faith. Jesus said to her, “Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment (Matt. 9:22).
Friends, Jesus came to teach the good news that we may learn how to live happy and blessed lives. However, unless we respond to his preaching on repentance, we will not benefit from all of his teachings because these will not be translated into more concrete blessings, such as the healing of our bodies, relationships and finances. May the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ be spread, followed with repentance, that we may all be blessed. Hallelujah!