THE PEOPLE WALKING IN DARKNESS HAVE SEEN A GREAT LIGHT!
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.
This is one of the things which has stood out for me in this Gospel. Prudence.
Somehow, I always thought that fear is the opposite of faith, that fear is from Satan.
However, God gave us minds to use them, gave us commonsense to use it.
If Jesus continued preaching the same message as John in this highly charged and dangerous environment, he would, very likely, join John in prison. But his ministry had just begun. He still had to train his disciples, and preach the good news to the poor.
And so he quietly leaves.
13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 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.”
Wonderful words, “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.”
How is Jesus a great light to me?
* Well, he quite literally often tells me what to do.
* When I am sad, I remember he loves me.
* I know my life is in his hands, and he can work out all things for good.
* When sad, unjust, unfair things happen, in times of reverses or financial loss, I know my affairs are in his hands, and he can bring good out of these things.
* I can trust my children and husband into his hands.
* I can trust my health, and my house when I travel into his hands.
* He gives me ideas when I have none.
* He gives me direction.
* Oh, there is so much wisdom in his words. He teaches me how to live my life.
* I can talk to him during sleepless nights.
* Talking to him calms me down when I am agitated.
* I love him, and that brings much light into my life.
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
The first thing Jesus said publicly.
Repent. Don’t remain stuck in your rut. Search your hearts. Change your life.
18 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. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
AT ONCE. That is the operative word. Don’t wait too long for Gideon’s fleeces, and “wise” counsel, and the right time and hearing clearly and the children’s education, and paying off the mortgage. You will get distracted. You will think better of it. Your feet will grow cold.
When you hear him call, “at once” leave your nets, and follow him.
If fishermen follow him, they become fishers of men. THE WILL OF GOD ALWAYS LEADS YOU TO A BIGGER PLACE. A larger space. A more spacious place. In the words of Jabez, following Christ always leads to him blessing you indeed and keeping his hands upon you, and often leads to him enlarging your territory and keeping you free from pain.
21 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, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Immediately. One of the great enemies of spiritual growth is procrastination. Obey God when you hear him speak. Otherwise, you will soon be uncertain if what you hear is God’s voice or not.
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
So this is how Jesus inaugurated his ministry, teaching, proclaiming, and healing every disease and sickness. Our family, in particular Roy and I, but really all of us, through the grace and goodness of God, enjoy robust health, and are not often sick. So I guess I have been less interested in the healing ministry. But it is real, so real, and I have both experienced things leave when I am prayed for, sometimes permanently, and have experienced backaches, emotional pain, colds and coughs leave when I have prayed for other people.
I think I will do more praying for the sick. If that was what Jesus chose as an integral part of his inaugural ministry, then….
24 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.
And here are two reasons for a healing ministry–it draws people who will listen to your teaching and proclaiming ministry, and it offers precious and tangible relief and blessing to those suffering severe pain.
25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
The fruits of a healing ministry.
So Jesus was the most popular preacher is Israel, right? The people loved him, right? He healed the sick, he only did good, right?
They would never allow their leaders to crucify him, right?
Crowds and popularity need to be taken with a grain of salt. They come quickly. They can vanish quickly.
In seasons of popularity, praise and approbation, it is more important than ever to remain grounded in God, because all this can vanish rapidly. We are reminded of how Jesus handled praise. John 2:24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.