Let’s begin by reading verses 12-16: “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the Son of Alphaeus, and Simon call the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor” (NKJV). It is beautiful to see the humble example of our Lord Jesus as He spent the whole night in prayer. He was the perfect Servant and dependent Man, and thus He looked to the Father for guidance on who to choose to make up His twelve apostles. We see from verse 13 that He had many DISCIPLES yet He narrowed them down to twelve and He gave them the distinctive name of APOSTLES. A disciple is “a follower,” but an apostle is “a messenger with delegated authority.” These men were from all walks of life, yet they all, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, shared a zeal and commitment to the Lord Jesus. They were young men and their youth was necessary for the hardships they would experience as they travelled throughout Israel proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. Before they began their itinerant preaching, the Lord would educate them by showing them the “principles of the kingdom.” This is seen in verses 20-49 and in Matthew chapters 5-7. This would help “shape their character,” for it was vital that their behavior would also be an effective testimony to their fellow-countrymen. This is also a lesson to believers today, for our lives should be consistent with the gospel that we preach. We need to “practice what we preach” or our words will surely fall on deaf ears.

Now we’ll read verses 17-19: “Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.” We are told next that the Lord Jesus and His newly-appointed apostles are met by a multitude of people “who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases,” and this included “those who were troubled with unclean spirits.” It is wonderful that some desired to hear Jesus teach them “spiritual truths” about the kingdom, but they also had “physical afflictions” and they believed He could heal them. I believe the Lord had several reasons for healing them, the most obvious one being that He truly had COMPASSION on them. Healing them would manifest His HEART to them, and it would also serve as an example to His disciples (and to US!) that we should ever be ready to show LOVE and MERCY to a needy world. But it also demonstrated His POWER, for up until now no one was ever endowed with the power we read of here which resulted in the Lord Jesus “healing them all.” These displays of His COMPASSION and POWER should have touched every heart there and prepared them to hear the message of the kingdom that He was about to proclaim. Every miracle He did was a SIGN to point them to the fact that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Isaiah had foretold that miracles of healing would be a sign of the kingdom: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (Isaiah 35:5-6). They weren’t done to dazzle the mind, but to win the heart, and to convince His people that He was their promised Messiah. Is it not sad to realize that after years of “healing them all,” the nation rejected Him? John 1:11 declares, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” Sign after sign was done, yet their hearts remained untouched. (233.7) (DO)