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Galilee of the Nations

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Sermon shared by Christopher Holdsworth

November 2013
Summary: Jesus reaches out beyond the borders of life.
Audience: adults
GALILEE OF THE NATIONS
Matthew 4:12-23

In Egypt, Joseph Ben-David was instructed to take the holy family back to Israel, because Jesus had things to do there. Joseph took Jesus and Mary to Nazareth in Galilee. There they dwelt, and there Jesus grew up (2:20-23).

The years passed by, and God sent John the Baptist to the River Jordan. This was in fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 40:3). John preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (3:1-3).

1. Jesus came to John to be baptised in the River Jordan (3:13-17):
Jesus did not have any personal sin to repent of, but His washing with water may have signified the ritual washing of a priest when he is first consecrated. Jesus was anointed when the Holy Spirit came upon Him in the form of a dove, and God the Father accepted the Person of Jesus with a voice from heaven. This was the high point of John’s ministry.

2. Jesus was tempted just as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15):
God created all things “very good”, but man’s collective disobedience has ushered in the principle of death. The Garden of Eden was turned into a wilderness of destruction, disaster, and disease. It is fitting, then, that it was “into the wilderness” that the Spirit led Jesus right at the beginning of His public ministry to confront the devil (1).

3. Jesus took up the message of repentance (17):
When Jesus returned from the wilderness, he heard that John had been put into prison. This heralded the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry, not in Judea, but in the region of “Galilee of the nations” (Isaiah 9:1). The true light had arisen in the midst of great darkness (12-16).

4. It was in Galilee that Jesus called His first disciples (18-22):
John the Baptist had already pointed Andrew and one other of his own disciples towards Jesus (John 1:35-42). When Jesus called Andrew and Peter to become fishers of men, they were being called not only into salvation, but also into service. They immediately left their nets, and followed Him.

Likewise James and John left their ship, their father, and their nets to go wherever Jesus was about to lead them. We have to love God better than our business, better than our family, and better than our legitimate occupations. When we follow Jesus, we leave behind the familiar, and launch out into uncharted waters: but with the reassurance that He will lead us in the paths that we should go.

5. Jesus taught the gospel, with signs following (23):
It was important that the people who worshipped in the synagogues should hear the words of Jesus (Acts 3:22-23). Neither was it beneath Him to preach the kingdom to those outside the synagogue, healing “all manner” of sickness and disease. His message was further authenticated in the voice which was heard in the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:5)

As we leave this passage, let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is content not only to relieve our bodily ailments, but who has vanquished once and for all the spiritual leprosy of our sin by the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. While we were yet far off, Christ died for us, that we might live in Him. In Him is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, bond nor free.

To Him be praise and glory for ever.
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