Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. (Matt. 9.35) NASB
Matthew 9.35 is nearly parallel to Matthew 4.23-together they form an inclusio. An inclusio is a rhetorical device used by an author to bracket a section of material that belongs together. The beginning of the inclusio starts the section, the inclusio at the end marks that section off. In addition, the inclusio informs the reader what the contents will be about. In the case of Matthew 4.23 through 9.35 the contents are focused on three actions that Jesus preforms: teaching, proclaiming, and healing. The foundation that these three actions are rooted in is the kingdom of God.
The material between Matthew 4.23 and 9.35 can be broken into two sections: chapters 5-7 and chapters 8-9. What was Jesus teaching? What was he proclaiming? The kingdom of God. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 expound on what Jesus was proclaiming and teaching, otherwise known as the sermon on the mount. But Matthew also tells us that Jesus was healing all diseases and sicknesses that were brought to him. In chapters 8-9 a bevy of miraculous healings are reported:
- Jesus cleansed a leper – Matt. 8.2-3
- Jesus healed a Centurin’s servant is healed from paralysis – Matt. 8.5-7
- Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law from sickness and fever – Matt. 8.14-15
- Jesus exercises demons from two men in the country of Gadarenes – Matt. 8.28-32
- Jesus heals a paralyzed man – Matt. 9.2-6
- Jesus raised back to life the daughter of a synagogue official – Matt. 9.18, 23-24
- Jesus heals a woman with chronic bleeding – Matt. 9.20-22
- Jesus heals two blind men – Matt. 9.27-30
- Jesus heals a mute demon possessed man – Matt. 9.32-33
What is Matthew trying to tell his audience? What is he telling us? The gospel of the kingdom that Jesus is preaching manifests itself in an enhanced ethical system that cuts to the heart of the matter and the reality of that kingdom brings with it great healing power for all: Jews, gentiles, men, women, and children.
What does it mean when we read that Jesus was preaching and teaching the gospel of the kingdom? Matthew 4.23 – 9.35 tell us the power, reality, and true good news that the kingdom of God brings. For Jesus, this kingdom was gospel.