The Ministry of Jesus Begins
12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 13 He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali,Isaiah 9:1-2
beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River,
in Galilee where so many Gentiles live,
16 the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.”
17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” Matthew 4:12-17
So where do we focus our attention today?
- John being arrested?
- Jesus hearing of the arrest and heading back to Galilee?
- A prophesy fulfilled?
- or – Jesus beginning His preaching ministry, with the message “repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of God is near? *note the message didn’t change, just the deliverer
I believe they must all be considered to gain the full impact of verse 17, where Jesus begins to preach. Clearly each event led to the next and was laced with the fingerprints of God’s perfect timing. John was sent as a messenger, to prepare the way for the Lord, the Messiah whom he had baptized. The one of whom he said, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.” . Once Jesus entered the scene , John was well aware that his ministry was nearing its end and this, by the Gospel’s accounts, began with John’s arrest. The same is true of Jesus who, when He heard that John had been arrested, did not hurry to his aid but rather back to Galilee. Why? Because He knew the message John had been preaching – one of repentance and turning to God because the Kingdom of Heaven is near- had to continue; He also knew God’s intention was for Him to carry the news to the lost, which according to the prophecy of Isaiah would begin with the Gentiles in Galilee “where so many Gentiles lived“.
Both Jesus and John knew the Father’s plan was for Jesus to be exalted and they were committed to it. I do not suggest that John knew he would be arrested but simply that he understood things would be changing. He was yielded to God’s calling on his life, yielded to Christ increasing and him decreasing, but he continued to speak the truth in boldness, unapologetically preparing the way for the Lord. John’s message led him to prison and ultimately to his death. (Read the story) Jesus also knew and understood the Father’s plan – His timing, purpose, and the importance of the message – and He went in that direction. His commitment to the Father’s plan, like John’s, also led to His arrest and subsequent crucifixion.
Wow! If we didn’t know the rest of the story we might be tempted to think – “if commitment to God means heartache and death – why commit?” The answer can be found throughout Scripture, such as in Jesus’ answer to the thief on the cross – “today you will be with me in paradise”, or in the promise and pledged love of God to give all who believe in Him eternal life, or even in the words of Jesus to the crowd when He explained that to be His disciple they had to give up their own way, take up their cross daily, and follow Him. If you think the first two requirements are harder than the last check out what Jesus had just told them about His life in verse 22 of Luke 9, “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.“ Following Christ may not be easy or desirous at times but as He told them at the conclusion of His discipleship requirements … the end result is LIFE.
May we seek to know the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15), His purpose for the world (John 3:16-17), His call upon our life (Matt 28:18-20), and, like John and Jesus, may we be committed and yielded to follow accordingly.