And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. Mt 4:23
One of the most helpful doctrines to understand the work of Christ on earth is the concept first described by Eusebius and more fully developed by John Calvin of munus triplex, or the threefold office of Christ. The doctrine teaches that during His life and ministry on earth, Jesus performed all three of the functions reserved in the Old Testament for separate individuals – namely that of prophet (Deuteronomy 18:14-22), priest (Psalm 110:1-4), and king (Psalm 2). We see Jesus functioning in these three occupations from the very onset of His ministry.
Our text this week relates the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth. First, in verses 12-17, he is described in terms of the light of the nations. As such, Jesus heralds His message, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (4:17). Matthew intends this sentence to encapsulate Jesus’ essential message as Messiah the prophet – a ministry he will expand upon in chapters 5-7 (the Sermon on the Mount). Here we are 3 ½ chapters into the Gospel, and this is the first time we hear Jesus preach; however from this point on, a floodgate of Jesus’ words is opened. As a preacher Jesus functions in the office of a prophet.
Secondly in verse 18-22 of the chapter, we find Jesus calling His disciples. He is not content merely to preach generally, but to effectually call a specific group of people to whom He will give special attention. Jesus calls, and these fishermen immediately leave their nets and even their family and follow Him. His command is authoritative, thus Jesus’ words are more than prophetic but are a royal declaration. Jesus is Lord and King of His church.
Thirdly in in the conclusion of our text, verses 23-25, we see Jesus’ healing work mentioned for the first time. Jesus not only talks, but He heals. This aspect of His ministry, introduced here and expanded upon in chapters 8 and 9, is a property of His priestly office. He healed, “every disease and every affliction among the people” (v. 23). There is no wound that Jesus could not cure. He did not refuse one who came to Him, no matter how filthy or vile the disease. No less does he turn away sinners. So we sinners, bruised and broken by the fall of mankind, have Jesus’ blood to heal us and make us whole. Even to this day He is our faithful high priest, whose blood pleads before the throne, making intercession for us.
Jesus Christ is the only person ever to walk the earth to function in all three capacities of prophet, priest and king. He could do so, because He is God incarnate.