See here, I. What an industrious preacher Christ was; He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Observe, 1. What Christ preached—the gospel of the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven, that is, of grace and glory, is emphatically the kingdom, the kingdom that was now to come; that kingdom which shall survive, as it doth surpass, all the kingdoms of the earth. The gospel is the charter of that kingdom, containing the King’s coronation oath, by which he has graciously obliged himself to pardon, protect, and save the subjects of that kingdom; it contains also their oath of allegiance, by which they oblige themselves to observe his statutes and seek his honour; this is the gospel of the kingdom; this Christ was himself the Preacher of, that our faith in it might be confirmed. 2. Where he preached—in the synagogues; not there only, but there chiefly, because those were the places of concourse, where wisdom was to lift up her voice (Prov. 1:21); because they were places of concourse for religious worship, and there, it was to be hoped, the minds of the people would be prepared to receive the gospel; and there the scriptures of the Old Testament were read, the exposition of which would easily introduce the gospel of the kingdom. 3. What pains he took in preaching; He went about all Galilee, teaching. He might have issued out a proclamation to summon all to come to him; but, to show his humility, and the condescensions of his grace, he goes to them; for he waits to be gracious, and comes to seek and save. Josephus says, There were above two hundred cities and towns in Galilee, and all, or most of them, Christ visited. He went about doing good. Never was there such an itinerant preacher, such an indefatigable one, as Christ was; he went from town to town, to beseech poor sinners to be reconciled to God. This is an example to ministers, to lay themselves out to do good, and to be instant, and constant, in season, and out of season, to preach the word.
II. What a powerful physician Christ was; he went about not only teaching, but healing, and both with his word, that he might magnify that above all his name. He sent his word, and healed them. Now observe,
1. What diseases he cured—all without exception. He healed all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease. There are diseases which are called the reproach of physicians, being obstinate to all the methods they can prescribe; but even those were the glory of this Physician, for he healed them all, however inveterate. His word was the true panpharmacon—all-heal.
Three general words are here used to intimate this; he healed every sickness, noson, as blindness, lameness, fever, dropsy; every disease, or languishing, malakian, as fluxes and consumptions; and all torments, basanous, as gout, stone, convulsions, and such like torturing distempers; whether the disease was acute or chronical; whether it was a racking or a wasting disease; none was too bad, none too hard, for Christ to heal with a word’s speaking.
Three particular diseases are specified; the palsy, which is the greatest weakness of the body; lunacy, which is the greatest malady of the mind, and possession of the Devil, which is the greatest misery and calamity of both, yet Christ healed all: for he is the sovereign Physician both of soul and body, and has command of all diseases.
2. What patients he had. A physician who was so easy of access, so sure of success, who cured immediately, without either a painful suspense and expectation, or such painful remedies as are worse than the disease; who cured gratis, and took no fees, could not but have abundance of patients. See here, what flocking there was to him from all parts; great multitudes of people came, not only from Galilee and the country about, but even from Jerusalem and from Judea, which lay a great way off; for his fame went throughout all Syria, not only among all the people of the Jews, but among the neighbouring nations, which, by the report that now spread far and near concerning him, would be prepared to receive his gospel, when afterwards it should be brought them. This is given as the reason why such multitudes came to him, because his fame had spread so widely. Note, What we hear of Christ from others, should invite us to him. The queen of Sheba was induced, by the fame of Solomon, to pay him a visit. The voice of fame is “Come, and see.” Christ both taught and healed. They who came for cures, met with instruction concerning the things that belonged to their peace. It is well if any thing will bring people to Christ; and they who come to him will find more in him than they expected. These Syrians, like Naaman the Syrian, coming to be healed of their diseases, many of them being converts, 2 Kgs. 5:15, 17. They sought health for the body, and obtained the salvation of the soul; like Saul, who sought the asses, and found the kingdom. Yet it appeared, by the issue, that many of those who rejoiced in Christ as a Healer, forgot him as a Teacher.
Now concerning the cures which Christ wrought, let us, once for all, observe the miracle, the mercy, and the mystery, of them.
(1.) The miracle of them. They were wrought in such a manner, as plainly spake them to be the immediate products of a divine and supernatural power, and they were God’s seal to his commission. Nature could not do these things, it was the God of nature; the cures were many, of diseases incurable by the art of the physician, of persons that were strangers, of all ages and conditions; the cures were wrought openly, before many witnesses, in mixed companies of persons that would have denied the matter of fact, if they could have had any colour for so doing; no cure ever failed, or was afterwards called in question; they were wrought speedily, and not (as cures by natural causes) gradually; they were perfect cures, and wrought with a word’s speaking; all which proves him a Teacher come from God, for, otherwise, none could have done the works that he did, John 3:2. He appeals to these as credentials, Matt. 11:4, 5; John 5:36. It was expected that the Messiah should work miracles (John 7:31); miracles of this nature (Isa. 35:5, 6); and we have this indisputable proof of his being the Messiah; never was there any man that did thus; and therefore his healing and his preaching generally went together, for the former confirmed the latter; thus here he began to do and to teach, Acts 1:1.
(2.) The mercy of them. The miracles that Moses wrought, to prove his mission, were most of them plagues and judgments, to intimate the terror of that dispensation, though from God; but the miracles that Christ wrought, were most of them cures, and all of them (except the cursing of the barren fig tree) blessings and favours; for the gospel dispensation is founded, and built up in love, and grace, and sweetness; and the management is such as tends not to affright but to allure us to obedience. Christ designed by his cures to win upon people, and to ingratiate himself and his doctrine into their minds, and so to draw them with the bands of love, Hos. 11:4. The miracle of them proved his doctrine a faithful saying, and convinced men’s judgments; the mercy of them proved it worthy of all acceptation, and wrought upon their affections. They were not only great works, but good works, that he showed them from his Father (John 10:32); and this goodness was intended to lead men to repentance (Rom. 2:4), as also to show that kindness, and beneficence, and doing good to all, to the utmost of our power and opportunity, are essential branches of that holy religion which Christ came into the world to establish.
(3.) The mystery of them. Christ, by curing bodily diseases, intended to show, that his great errand into the world was to cure spiritual maladies. He is the Sun of righteousness, that arises with this healing under his wings. As the Converter of sinners, he is the Physician of souls, and has taught us to call him so, Matt. 9:12, 13. Sin is the sickness, disease, and torment of the soul; Christ came to take away sin, and so to heal these. And the particular stories of the cures Christ wrought, may not only be applied spiritually, by way of allusion and illustration, but, I believe, are very much intended to reveal to us spiritual things, and to set before us the way and method of Christ’s dealing with souls, in their conversion and sanctification; and those cures are recorded, that were most significant and instructive this way; and they are therefore so to be explained and improved, to the honour and praise of that glorious Redeemer, who forgiveth all our iniquities, and so healeth all our diseases.