Summary: The message talks about events leading to the teaching, preaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ.
Text: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23).
The first part of our text says, “And Jesus went about all Galilee…” Jesus did not begin His ministry until He heard John the Baptist was cast into prison. John’s ministry was geared to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah. God sent John to prepare the way for the Messiah and to identify the Messiah when the right time arrived.
When the appropriate time came, John said to the people, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John did not know Jesus was the messiah until he “…saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him” (John 1:32).
John’s preaching caught the attention of many people. Scripture tells us, “The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him” (Mark 1:5). Perhaps some of the people were only curious about the man dressed in camel’s hair, sporting a leather belt around his waist and eating locusts and wild honey.
Maybe some people were really interested in hearing John’s message of proclaiming the good news of Almighty God. On the other hand, some people might have thought John to be the Christ. People were waiting for the Messiah.
There is a time span of about 400 years hundred between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Malachi became a prophet in 430 B.C. and was the last prophet for the next 400 years. Almighty God spoke these words to the prophet Malachi: “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes” (Malachi 4:5).
Since Elijah was one of the great prophets, God was indicating He was going to send someone like Elijah. This would not happen for 400 years and the prophet who would come would be like Elijah with the mission of announcing the coming of the Messiah. The prophet God sent was John the Baptist.
John’s mission was to prepare the heart of the people for the day of the coming of the Messiah. John urged people to repent of their sins so that when Christ appeared, they would be able to live together in harmony and tranquility.
The prophet Isaiah became a prophet in 740 B. C. and in wrote his book in the time frame 680 B. C. to 700 B. C. Isaiah talked about “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’” (Isaiah 40:3). When John appeared and began preaching, the “…Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was” (John 1:19).
They asked John if he was Elijah or the Prophet to which he replied that he was not. He answered with the words Isaiah wrote, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord’” (John 1:23).
God had promised a Messiah or Redeemer would arrive and there would also be a forerunner or one to prepare the way for Him. People held on to this promise. They believed the words of the prophets like Isaiah and Malachi. God’s promise was a comfort to the people because they now had something to look forward to.
It is interesting to note that when Jesus appeared upon the face of the earth, the civilized world was not in uproar, but more at peace. It was true that the Romans were in the driver’s seat. I believe God thought this to be the best time for the Messiah to appear because news of His presence, His work, His death and His resurrection would spread rapidly throughout the land.
After John’s ministry got under way and people became used to hearing John’s message to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2), God brought forth the next phase of His plan which was to bring forth the Messiah.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel” (John 1:29-31).
John was fulfilling his mission. He was to make the Messiah known to the people. He was not looking for anything that would inflate his ego, but instead, he was satisfied honoring God the Father. Identifying Jesus as the Messiah was the beginning of Jesus’ mission of salvation and redemption of mankind.