The Jesus PhD (12-06-23)
A Bible Reading: Matthew 4. 23 - 25
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
A Thought My friend, Robin Gamble, who heads up Leading Your Church Into Growth has written a great book called Jesus 100: 100 days to find him; 100 days to follow him; 100 days to be like him. The title in itself is a good mission statement before we start the studying. It’s a book I can well recommend (and I have a few spare copies if you would like one!)
To coin a popular term, I am a life-long learner. I love learning new things. As a teacher, I put a high value on good quality education and currently head up the Diocesan Lay Worship Leaders’ Course. Many people have a desire for more degrees and higher qualifications, MAs, MScs or doctorates. They think that these will further their careers in a profitable way. There is nothing wrong with learning at all. However, I was particularly struck by Robin’s advice to young people launching out in ministry. He encouraged them to do the Jesus PhD!
So what does a PhD in Jesus studies look like? A Jesus PhD looks like this. We need to learn how to:
P – Proclaim the Good News
H – Heal the sick
D – Drive out demons
This is not cerebral ‘book’ learning, although it will almost certainly begin by reading the Bible and the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry. This is entirely practical hands-on learning, more like an apprenticeship, that immediately takes us away from the theory out into the real world.
Jesus took his disciples with him. He demonstrated how to proclaim the Good News, heal the sick and drive out demons. Then he invited them to get involved and help. Sometimes they got it wrong, sometimes they got it right, but they learnt, and eventually Jesus returned to heaven and left them to get on with the job in his absence. Disciples have been doing so ever since.
This kind of PhD is not just for vicars, pastors, youth workers and evangelists. This is learning for all Christians, worked out within our own little world of family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. Why not give it go! We all have so much to find, to learn, to do and to be with Jesus’ instruction and help.
A Prayer Lord Jesus, Proclaimer, healer, driver out of demons, please teach me to do the sort of things you did and help me to be a receptive learner. Amen.
For more information about Jesus 100, see: