Summary: The beginning of Christ's ministry here on earth. The pivotal event was the arrest of John the Baptist.
A. A little old lady sold pretzels on a street corner for 25 cents each. Every day a young man would leave his office building at lunch time and, as he passed her pretzel stand, he would leave her a quarter, but would never take a pretzel. This went on for more than five years. The two of them never spoke. One day as the man passed the old ladies pretzel stand and left his quarter as usual, the pretzel woman spoke to him, "Sir, I appreciate your business. You are a good customer, but I have to tell you that the pretzel price has increased to 35 cents."
B. The time had now come, the time when Jesus was to go forth to His great purpose
1. There is much in this passage for every believer, layman and minister alike.
2. Every believer is called of God, actually sent into the world for a specific purpose.
3. The sad fact is that too many believers are not aware of their purpose.
4. They do not know why God sent them into the world
5. They have not sought God to discover His purpose for their lives;
a. They are just walking through life doing the same tasks and activities which occupied their time before they were saved.
b. But for the believer who knows God's purpose for his life, the day comes when he is to go forth to His purpose.
c. He is to go forth as Christ went forth, to carry on the great task which God has given him to do.
d. Many know, but chose to ignore it for one reason or an other
C. Our passage, today, can be outline as follows
1. There was the sign to begin: John's imprisonment (v.12).
2. There was the chosen headquarters: Galilee (v.12-13).
3. There was the deliberate decision to fulfill Scripture (v.14).
4. There was the mission (v.15-16).
5. There was the message (v.17).
a. So lets begin by turning to Matthew 4:12
A. The sign to begin, John’s imprisonment
Matthew 4:12 (NKJV)
Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.
1. God must have shown Christ when to begin His ministry
a. Apparently that sign was the imprisonment of John
(1) Turn to John 4:1 & 3
b. He had been ministering in Judea, but not as publicly or as extensively as He was now to do.
c. He could now go forth and tackle His task to the fullest
(1) Why now? Why not earlier?
2. Jesus could not give the appearance of competing with John
a. If He had begun His ministry in full force before John's ministry had been completed, the loyalty of the people would have been divided
b. John was sent to prepare the way, and the way was not fully prepared until John was removed from the scene
(1) Lets turn to John 16:13
(2) Here’s a thought, the believer who lives and walks in Christ will be directed by God
(3) He will know God's purpose for his life
(4) He will know when to go forth to his task, when to carry out God's purpose for his life-just as Christ knew
(5) God will guide and direct His servant.
John 16:13 (NKJV)
"However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
(6) Charles Spurgeon illustrates this so very well, he wrote, He will guide you into all truth." Truth may be compared to some cave or grotto, with wondrous stalactites reaching from the roof, and stalagmites reaching from the floor, a cavern glittering with spar and abounding in marvels. Before entering the cavern you enquire for a guide, who comes with his lighted torch. He conducts you down to a considerable depth, and you find yourself in the midst of the cave. He leads you through different chambers. Here he points you to a little stream rushing from amid the rocks and indicates its rise and progress. There he points to some peculiar rock and tells you its name, then takes you into a large natural hall, tells you how many persons once feasted in it, and so on. Truth is a grand series of caverns, it is our glory to have so great and wise a conductor as the Holy Spirit. Imagine that we are coming to the darkness of it. He is a light shining in the midst of us to guide us. And by the light he shows us wonderful things. He teaches us by suggestion, direction, and illumination.
(7) Here is another thought, the eclipse of John by Jesus holds a significant lesson for believers of every generation.