Summary: Jesus starts his ministry
"What’s the Good News?"
May 4th, 1997
Intro: Why is it that whenever we watch a movie, we just can’t wait for the previews of other releases to get done. I know that I always fast forward through them to get to the movie I wanted to see.
*I guess it’s for the same reason that some people can’t wait for the announcements to get done on Sunday morning so they can get on with the worship service!
*But ultimately none of us would ever be content to simply watch the previews: we want to see the movie.
As we go on in the book of Matthew, we have already seen the background for Christ’s ministry laid. Now Jesus is ready to enter into his visible ministry. Let’s look at Matthew 4, starting in verse 12.
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali-- to fulfil what was said through the prophet Isaiah: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-- the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
I. Jesus’ Preparing for Ministry - Here we see Jesus preparing for the next three years of ministry.
A. John is in Prison - we see Christ responding to the right timing; he sees an opening and fills it. There is a need for someone to step forward and continue the work that John started. Maybe the ministry you will have will be a continuation of someone else’s ministry.
B. Capernaum / Galilee - Why here in the north?
*Jesus starts his ministry out of the political limelight. He was not interested in focusing attention on himself; rather he was interested in accomplishing a task. This is not a power play, but an attempt to reach people.
*Capernaum was a larger city that Nazareth - he starts where he can be effective in reaching many people. He does not limit his sights just on his hometown.
*It is his home area. While not his home town, it is an area that he knows and can reach effectively.
*It is an area filled with fishermen, those he would call as his future disciples. He goes to an area that has potential for finding others to help in the work of ministry.
C. Fulfillment of Prophecy - Ultimately it was planned by the Father that this is the way the ministry of Jesus would be started. The "light" has dawned here.
II. Engaging in Ministry -
A. Declaring - Jesus comes with a message "Repent for the Kingdom is near"
This was the same message that John the Baptist had given. He identifies himself with John to follow on and continue on the groundwork that John had laid.
*There is the same need for the people to change inwardly and outwardly. The message of the gospel is old: only it’s applications change. We never need to be ashamed to talk about sin or holiness.
*We need to constantly be aware of God’s desire to work in the hearts of people. While often people are unreceptive, yet He desires to bring them into the kingdom.
B. Discipling - Jesus calls others to follow along with him. Likely this is a "re-issued" call to some of them. John 1 seems to indicate that some had followed for a short while and then returned to their fishing. Sometimes we need to be called several times until we really "get it" and follow with our whole hearts.