When Jesus Comes to Town: Life Lessons from Bihar, India

Sounding a little surprised that I didn’t understand why such a large crowd had come out that day, my friend Biju said: “They came to be healed.” Placing his hand on my shoulder, Biju then looked at me and said: “When Jesus comes to town people are healed.”

With fervor and conviction in his tone, it was as if Biju was saying, “You Mr. M.A. in Biblical Studies, who has edited a study Bible, do you actually know what the Bible says?”

You can live your entire life studying the Bible and not know what it actually means. Right there, in that moment, in Bihar, India, I realized that I knew the gospel but did not understand it.

It wasn’t the first time I had seen people healed, but it had never dawned on me that healings are meant to be a major part of ministry—that freeing people not just from spiritual oppression, but also from physical oppression, is a central part of Jesus’ message. It is something all of us should pursue and believe in.

Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming that freedom for the oppressed is his message. In a synagogue, Jesus read an Isaiah scroll—at Isaiah 61:1–2 and 58:6—saying:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19 ESV).

Jesus, as the fulfillment of Scripture, chooses these lines to articulate what he is all about. It is this message that John the Baptist makes the way for (Mark 1:1–8). And it is this message that ultimately confirms for John who Jesus is. When Jesus is asked by John’s disciples if is indeed the one John had been waiting for, Jesus responds:

“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear; the dead are raised, the poor have good news announced to them” (Luke 7:22).

The gospel is all about Jesus coming to town and changing lives. It is about the blind seeing, the lame walking, lepers being cleansed, the deaf hearing, the dead being raised, and the poor having good news announced to them.

Life transformation should be our expectation when spreading the good news about Jesus. Jesus is not just a message to be preached; through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is at work in our very lives and those who we meet. Jesus is transforming lives here and now—and he wants to do so. The gospel unlocks the very power of God to change and transform humanity.

Think of all the times the gospel describes crowds surrounding Jesus and his disciples (e.g., Mark 3:7; Matthew 5:1; Luke 14:25). And think of how this continues straight into the time of the apostles (e.g., Acts 2:5–41). Why should it not go on today?

The blind deserve to see. The lame deserve to walk. The deaf deserve to hear. If people desire, they should have their demons cast out. Jesus wants to free people now. Let’s unleash the power of Christ for all who are impoverished—the spiritual and physically impoverished.

The good news of Jesus is good news for the poor. When Jesus comes to town, people are healed. When Jesus comes to town lives are renewed—restored, as they should be.

Our faith and our actions should be inseparable. Let’s act like we actually believe in the Jesus of the Bible, for he is resurrected and alive today.


Learn about our project to Renew Bihar, India: we're offering access to the gospel of Jesus to thousands who have never heard his name.

John Barry
John Barry


CEO and Founder of Jesus' Economy. John is the General Editor of the highly acclaimed Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary. His new book is Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. It is widely endorsed by Christian leaders from around the world.