Summary: When Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody He went into Galilee
From the Wilderness to the Mission Field
When Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody He went into Galilee not only for His own protection, knowing that the Pharisees in Judah were enemies as Herod was John’s and to build upon the good foundation John had laid. God will not leave himself without a witness, or his church without guides. When He removes one useful instrument, He raises up another. John is put into prison, now Jesus, arise.
The place where Jesus preached in Galilee was a remote part of the country that lay furthest from Jerusalem. The people were looked upon with contempt, as rude and boorish. Fit to be soldiers but not polite men, or fit to be scholars. Jesus went there to begin His ministry and in doing this He did as He always did, humbled Himself. The city He chose for his residence was not His home town Nazareth which He left because of an incident recorded in Luke 4:29. Nazareth was the first place that rejected Jesus and was therefore rejected by Him. Jesus will not stay where He is not welcomed.
When Jesus left Nazareth He settled in Capernaum. There are scholars who believe His father Joseph had a house there, others that He dwelt in the house of Simon Peter. It was a place where He could go to when He needed to rest though not a place of His own. It seems as if He was welcomed and respected in Capernaum.
Jesus going to Galilee fulfilled Isaiah 9:1-2. Matthew uses only the latter part of the prediction which speaks of the return of the light of liberty and prosperity to those countries that had been in the darkness of captivity, and applies it to the appearing of the gospel among them. When Jesus came to Capernaum, the gospel came to all those places round about.
We are told the people in this area were in darkness before the light came among them. This is the state of those that are without Christ. This darkness is greater than the darkness that upon the face of the deep. This darkness is the region and shadow of death, which implies not only a great darkness but a great danger. A man that is desperately sick, and not likely to recover, is in the valley of the shadow of death, though not quite dead. The people in this area were on the borders of damnation. What is even worse they were sitting in this darkness. They were contented and loved the darkness. They chose it rather than light. Their condition was the same condition of many great and mighty nations today. What is even sadder is the fact there are many who sit in darkness in the midst of gospel-light. Those who sit in the dark because it is night may be sure that the sun will shortly rise; but he that is in the dark because he is blind, will not see the sun rise. These people were spiritually blind.
When the gospel comes, light comes. Light is discovering, it is directing; so is the gospel. The light is not like the light of a candle, but the light of the sun. It is a great light. It reveals great things and consequences. It is long lasting and spreads fast. It is a growing light and it sprung up among the people. They didn’t seek it. It came upon them before they were aware it was in their midst.
From the time Jesus came into Galilee, into the land of Zebulun and Naphtali He began to preach. He had been preaching, before this, in Judah but his preaching was not as public as it now began to be. His message was the sum and substance of all His preaching, the same message John preached, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The commands the same, and the reasons to enforce them the same, even an angel from heaven dare not preach any other gospel because it is an everlasting gospel. John’s message prepared the way for Jesus. Jesus prepares the way for His coming preaching the same message John preached. Wherever Jesus went, this was His message. It was the message of His followers.
That which has been preached and heard before can be very profitably preached and heard again. The reason for preaching the message John and Jesus preached today is the same as it was when they preached it. The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
In all His preaching Jesus gave a common call to all the country, but His calling of the disciples there was a special and particular call. All the country was called but these were called out from the redeemed. It was a call to the work of the ministry. Those He called to the ministry didn’t come from Herod’s court. They didn’t come from Jerusalem from among the priests and elders. They came from Galilee. From a remote part of the nation, the inhabitants were less cultivated and refined. He called His first disciples from their fishing boats and nets to be fishers of men. These were to be the prime ministers of state in His kingdom, for He chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.