New Testament Journey Day 8 – Please read Matthew 4:12-17 – “Jesus begins His ministry.”
The book of Matthew features Jesus’ sermons. The record of Jesus’ actions is intertwined with great passages of his teaching. This section of Matthew we are entering is topical rather than chronological. Matthew records for us the Sermon on the Mount, the parables of the Kingdom, Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness and parables about the end of time.
Jesus moved from Nazareth, his hometown, to Capernaum, about 20 miles further north. Capernaum became Jesus’ home base during his ministry in Galilee. Speculation is that Jesus moved to get away from the intense opposition in Nazareth, and to have an impact on the greatest number of people (Capernaum was was a busy city, and Jesus’ message could reach more people and spread more quickly), and to utilize extra resources and support for his ministry. This move also fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2, which states the Messiah would be a light to the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (two of the original tribes of Israel and the region of Galilee where Capernaum was located.) By quoting from the book if Isaiah, Matthew continues to tie Jesus’ ministry to the Old Testament. This was helpful for the Jewish readers, who were familiar with these scriptures. It also shows how the unity of God’s purposes as he works through his people all throughout the ages. (I love to see that divine intervention! We still have that going on today in our own lives. God will use US to help accomplish His purpose in the lives of others!)
The one thing I noticed readily was that in the book of Matthew we read about Jesus being tested and tempted in the wilderness, and THEN he started his ministry. The bible says “To whom much is given, much is required.” If God is going to use you in the ministry in a way in which you will be seen, I guarantee you will likely first have tests and temptation come your way. The devil is going to try and keep you from your calling, and God is going to be sure He can trust you with so great a responsibility. Through the years, and different churches I have attended, I have seen people who got on fire for the Lord. But then, they started striving for a position in the church to be seen. Suddenly the desire to hold a position was their focus instead of their focus being on Jesus – on winning others to the Lord and serving behind the scenes, however he called them. In that striving they got frustrated and angry and allowed jealousy, envy and strife to creep in. It breaks my heart to see them no longer in church, living in the world, once again a slave to sin. We live in a day and time where everyone wants to be seen and heard – but the bible clearly says “humble yourself” — as John the Baptist would say “He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.” We need to serve Jesus and the church out of a place of a sincere desire to lead others to the cross so they can have the same freedom from the bondage of sin that we have! Jesus washed the feet of others, he was a humble servant and we should follow his example.
Have a blessed day and remember to keep your eyes on Jesus!