As Jesus was beginning His public ministry, He called upon several individuals to follow Him. These men we know as His Disciples and Apostles. Each of them had unique talents they had received from God, and each of them had personally been praying and preparing for the arrival of the Messiah. When Jesus called them, they immediately dropped what they were doing and followed Him, sometimes even leaving their family behind.
Some of these men were fishermen, and in calling them, Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4.19) James and John left their father Zebedee behind, while others were expected to leave their dead relatives to “bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8.22) These are radical invitations by any standard, and yet in every case these men (and oftentimes women) were willing to leave everything they knew for a new life with Jesus.
This new life wasn’t without struggle to be sure, but the blessings far outweighed the pain. According to the Gospel, “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of diseases among the people.” (Matthew 4.23) When people answered the invitation to follow Christ, no matter how radical the call may have seemed, they witnessed healing at every turn, both physical and spiritual.
Our modern society needs just such a radical invitation. Our society is overcome by fear, sickness and pain, and the way things have been, have not brought healing. Just as in ancient Israel, today Jesus is inviting us to follow Him to a new way of thinking. Are we willing to leave behind all we know to follow Him? The disciples and apostles witnessed great healing, and so can we if we are willing to preach “the gospel of the kingdom” to all we encounter. But first we must be willing to leave our old way of thinking behind for a new way of thinking.
The gospel that Jesus preached was a message of love and repentance. It was a message of forgiveness and healing. It was a message of inclusion and charity. This will seem like a new way of thinking in a society that is driven by individualism and pride, self-reliance rather than cooperation, vengeance rather than forgiveness, superiority rather than inclusion, selfishness rather than charity. It is time for a new way of thinking, a radical change; it is time to follow Jesus and preach the gospel. Then we will have healing in our society.