Friday, February 27, 2009
Matthew 4:12-25 The Saviour’s Passion for People
When He heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee.
He left Nazareth behind and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.
1. The Saviour’s Passion Brought Him to Galilee
V.13 says, “leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum.” This was Matthew’s hometown. Some say the population of the cities around “the sea’ was 2 million at this time.
In the region around the sea te population was about 3.5 million people.
204 villages of more than 15,000 people -Josephus (governor of Galilee)
Matt 4:14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 15 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, along the sea road, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles! 16 The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the shadowland of death, light has dawned.
One of the most helpful and beautiful metaphors for Jesus Christ is that He is the Light of the World. John was the gospel writer who most emphasized the fact that Jesus is the light of the world. John 1:4-5 (NKJV) “4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John then tells us that John the Baptist’s primary purpose was to bear witness to that light. John 1:8-9 (NKJV) “8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” Jesus even compared Himself to light. John 8:12 (NKJV) “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’” In the Old Testament, light was an illustration of righteousness and a life of obedience. An example would be Proverbs 4:18-19 (ESV) “18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. 19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” As Matthew introduces us to the public ministry of the King, he quotes another passage from the Old Testament referencing light. Verses 15 and 16 in our text are a quote from Isaiah 9:1-2. Again, Matthew, writing primarily to the Jews, shows them that the whole Old Testament was pointing to Jesus! He is the ultimate manifestation of the light of the Old Testament prophesies. He is perfect righteousness; He is the truth personified; He is the light! He is not just the light of the Jews but as John 1:9 says He is the One who gives light to every man coming into the world
Jesus seems to have deliberately fulfilled and kept a promise of the Old Testament: in this case, about where He would live. He moved to Galilee because the Old Testament described Him as living there. Why? Well, what we find is that the quotation from Isaiah 9, which starts in verse 15, describes the way to Galilee of the Gentiles’ - that is the province of the foreigners. In other words an international region. It was a place pf trade on the gateway to the Arab world and the gateway to the Babylonian world and the gateway to the Mediterranean.
The Galileans were not highly thought of. They would be sort of like how the world looks at farming today – hillbillies or hayseeds. In the Old Testament it was sometimes called Galilee of the Gentiles. Being on the Northern border of Israel and a crossroad’s town, there were many non Jews who lived in Galilee. That is another reason that the Jewish leaders looked down on any one from Galilee. When Nicodemas tried to get the Pharisees to listen to Jesus, they responded in John 7:51-52 (NKJV) “51 ‘Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?’ 52 They answered and said to him, ‘Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.’” When Jesus started His ministry in Galilee instead of Jerusalem, He was fulfilling a prophesy given some 800 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:1-2 and quoted in verses 15 & 16. The beginning of His ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles is evidence of the fact that He didn’t come just as King of the Jews but as the King of all nations.
Do you see that the condition of the nations of this world is described as living in darkness’? - the darkness of delusion and confusion; the darkness of depravity and corruption; the darkness of depression and sadness; and ultimately the darkness of death and bereavement.
Of course, life in this world is not always so miserable: we enjoy times of great joy and comfort and success, from time to time. But all of us will all know during our lifetimes (and perhaps some of us have already tasted) that bitter taste of deep darkness within our souls. That darkness of delusion and confusion is evident in the spirit of confusion of our culture. It seems to me that most people around seem confused by the endless religious options which appear to be the evolving mythologies and spiritual ideologies of different cultures of our planet-which are just developing and evolvingto answer the deep questions about life and eternity that we all face. And it’s very confusing.
The Galileans certainly “sat in darkness.” They lived in “the region and the shadow of death.” They did not have the biblical education of the Judeans. Most of them were simple working class people.
But into this darkness of confusion God sent Jesus to bring the light of revelation to light up the way to God. The “great light” had “dawned” in Galilee. John 1:4-5 says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness.” Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Jesus was sent by God to bring light into this darkness of our depravity. He came to bring complete forgiveness for all the wrong that we’ve done and thought and said.
In the Blue Arrow Café in Tasmania a gunman came charging in with a shotgun and started shooting people in the café. New Zealander, Jason Wheatley, a winegrower, was there with his wife and his young baby, and instinctively he threw himself across the body of his wife and child and tumbled down to the ground on top of them. Of course, he was shot and they survived, It was an act of instinctive love and self-sacrifice. He did it because he loved them. And Jesus Christ loves you and me, and He threw Himself across us and on the cross. He was shot to bits, and we don’t have to be - because He loves us.
W.H. Auden, Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephones; prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone. Silence the pianos and with muffled drum bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.’ You remember that, don’t you? - from Four Weddings and a Funeral. We live in the land of the shadow of death, but Jesus Christ was sent by God into the darkness in which we all live, as a light. He not only died in our place on the cross, He came to life again - to open the way into an eternity with God in heaven. As a light to our darkness, He brought life to people who will one day die.
2. The Saviour’s Passion Caught Him Some Galileans
As He was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his
brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen.
19 “Follow Me,” He told them, and I will make you fish for people!”
20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them.
22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.
One day after arriving in Capernaum, Jesus was “walking by the Sea of Galilee.” The “Sea of Galilee’ is some 8 miles wide and 13 miles long. It rests 700 feet below sea level. Josephus said in the first century there were some 240 commercial fishing boats in operation.
As Jesus walked, He saw “two brothers, Simon... and Andrew his brother.” According to John 1, He had already met them from among John the Baptist’s disciples. No doubt, they recognized each other. Andrew had been a follower of John the Baptist, and when John pointed out Jesus in John 1:29 as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, Andrew went and got his brother Peter and introduced him to Jesus.
Jesus said, “Follow Me,
The call of these disciples was to follow Jesus. What does that mean?
They responded “immediately.” They “left their nets” and they “follow” Him. Dale Bruner explains that “Follow me” meant in rabbinic speech, “become my students, be apprenticed to me, join my school, live with me.” Students lived with their rabbis; they did not merely hear their lectures. Discipleship was study-in-residence; it was a live-in arrangement in a home and with a teacher. “The unusual feature in Jesus’ enrollment, however, is that Jesus asks the students to join him. Ordinarily, students came asking for the privilege of studying (and living) with the rabbi. But Jesus is no ordinary rabbi.”
I believe that it is the call He is still making to disciples. Jesus calls you to follow Him.
Following Jesus involves these 5 things:
1. Repentance – You cannot follow Him when you are going away from Him. Repentance as we saw earlier means to change your perspective and mindset and then reflect that change in your behavior. To follow Jesus is a whole new perspective on life. He is now Lord in every area. It is no longer my life, my rights, my plans, my ambitions and goals; it is Him!
2. Obedience – To follow Jesus is to obey Him as Lord and master. In John 10, Jesus said that His sheep follow Him. John 10:27 (NKJV) “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” It is obvious that here following Him involves a life of obedience. Obedience doesn’t make us His sheep; obedience reveals that we are His sheep.
3. Submission – In Matthew 11 Jesus uses the picture of putting on a yoke to symbolize submission. Submit comes from the Latin words “sub” which means under, and “mitto” that means to put or place. To submit is to put oneself under the authority of another. We are yoked to Jesus under His authority and with Jesus so we have His enabling power to obey all He tells us to do.
4. Trust – It is impossible to follow someone you don’t trust. To follow Christ assumes that I have a complete trust in His ways and His motives and His ability.
5. Perseverance – Following is a continuing act, not a one time event. Following Jesus is a lifetime commitment that never must fade or diminish. We follow until we leave this earth and the race is finished and the course is run. In the call to Peter and Andrew we see the heart of Christ and the task to which they were called. They were called to become fishers of men. That obviously communicated well with these fishermen. The picture is of mankind swimming in a sea of sin and condemnation and those who follow Jesus cast the net and rescue them from a hopeless eternity. It is so easy to lose sight of that purpose of our calling
Jesus said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
‘Remarkable as it may seem,’ says Robert Coleman in his classic study of Jesus’ evangelistic methods, ‘Jesus started to gather these men before he ever organized an evangelistic campaign or even preached a sermon in public. . . . These few early converts of the Lord were destined to become the leaders of his church that was to go with the Gospel to the whole world.. . .‘ (The Master Plan of Evangelism [Old Tappan, Fleming H. Revell, 1964], pp. 21-22). He summoned ordinary working people as his disciples, bringing them into a team relationship with himself and one another, and training them on the job by personal example and practical experience.
Jesus didn’t let the demands of ministry to vast crowds prevent the training of his disciples. He concentrated on a few while not neglecting the many. Coleman remarks, ‘Jesus was a realist. . . . Though he did what he could to help the multitudes, he had to devote himself primarily to a few men, rather than the masses, in order that the masses could at last be saved. This was the genius of his strategy. . . .‘ (pp. 33-34). Where many leaders are mesmerized by numbers and diverted by popularity, Jesus recognized the strategic importance of shaping a few key followers with his personal values and lifestyle.
In what could be called a strategy of association, Jesus’ taught disciples through a living interaction with himself. His teaching method was informal, relational, life-related. ‘Jesus had no formal school, no seminaries, no outlined course of study, no periodic membership classes in which he enrolled his followers. Knowledge was gained by association before it was understood by explanation.’ (Coleman, pp. 38-39). He used a ‘Come and see’ (John 1:39) or ‘Come follow me’ (Mark 1:17) method of learning.
Coleman remarks, ‘The time which Jesus invested in these few disciples was so much more by comparison to that given to others that it can only be regarded as a deliberate strategy. He actually spent more time with his disciples than with everybody else in the world put together. He ate with them, slept with them, and talked with them for the most part of his entire active ministry. They walked together along the lonely roads; they visited together in the crowded cities; they sailed and fished together in the Sea of Galilee; they prayed together in the deserts and in the mountains; and they worshipped together in the synagogues and in the temple.... Even while Jesus was ministering to others, the disciples were always there with him.. . . Without neglecting his regular ministry to those in need, he maintained a constant ministry to his disciples by having them with him.’ (pp.42-43).
From being leader of a small group of a dozen followers in an obscure province on the eastern border of the Roman Empire, the movement Jesus founded now comprises, two millennia later, one third of the world’s population (1,995,000,000 out of a total world population of 5,892,000,000 in mid-1997, according to Christian researcher David Barrett’s ‘Annual Statistical Table on Global Mission: 1997,’ International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January 1997, pp. 24-25).
What was the key to this astonishing success? It was Jesus’ personal method of disciple-making. Modern evangelists, like so many modern political leaders or leaders of contemporary popular culture, prefer mass methods, often despising personal or friendship evangelism as slow and inefficient. In fact, Jesus’ preferred strategy of discipling a few to reach the many is demonstrably much more effective in the long run. It is the difference between addition and multiplication, as Dr. Howard Hendrix, Professor of Christian Education at Dallas Seminary, and Dr. James Kennedy, founder of Evangelism Explosion, have pointed out by contrasting the two methods:
METHOD 1: ADDITION (MASS EVANGELISM)
Assume that a modern mass evangelist preaches to 100,000 per day, with a 4% rate of conversion (double that of Billy Graham) and works a superhuman 365 days a year. After 1 year there will be 1,460,000 converts, and so on annually until after 16 years there will be 23,360,000 converts (slightly more than the combined population of Australia and New Zealand).
METHOD 2:MULTIPLICATION (PERSONAL DISCI PLING)
By contrast, using Jesus’ method of personal discipling, we can modestly assume that 1 person makes 1 disciple each 6 months, and teaches each successive disciple to do same. After 1 year there will be 4 disciples, after 2 years 16, after 5 years over 1 thousand, after 10 years over 1 million, after 15 years over 1 billion, and after about 161/2 years the present world population of just under 6 billion would be discipled.
Jesus calls us all to evangelism.
Remember that there were more than 200 villages in Galilee. Jesus went village to village teaching and preaching. Jesus could deliver the gospel by Himself. However, He wants to share the joy and reward of that task with us. Jesus calls us all to evangelism. You may not be a “Billy Graham” but you can tell others what Jesus has done for you. 1 Pet.2:9 says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” In a small church during the summer, a pastor was preaching with gusto. Due to the warmth of the evening, the windows were open and bugs of all sizes were attracted to the sanctuary lights. As the pastor was making an energetic point, a large moth flew into his open mouth. The congregation was silent, awaiting some reply after the ingestion of the fluttering creature. After some coughing and throat clearing he responded, “Ladies and gentlemen, with some difficulty, a moth has entered the ministry.’
'To those who knotted nets of twine to comb a fish-filled sea,
Christ called aloud: Put down that line and come and follow me!’
Accustomed to the tug of rope ensnared in rocks and weeds,
they felt from Christ a pull of hope, amidst their tangled needs.
They left their boats, their sails and oars, but even more than these,
they left the lake’s encircling shores, and its familiar breeze.
They braved the tyrant’s brutal blast and hate’s unbounded rage,
while rescue lines of faith they cast to save their sinking age.
0 Christ, who called beside the sea, still call to us today,
Like those who fished in Galilee, we’ll risk your storm-swept way.’
“In simple trust like theirs who heard, Beside the Syrian sea, The gracious calling of the Lord, Let us, like them, without a word, Rise up and follow Thee.”
3. The Saviour’s Passion Taught Them Some Gospel
17 From then on Jesus began to preach, Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”
23 Jesus was going all over Galilee, teaching in their • synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
24 Then the news about Him spread throughout Syria. So they brought to Him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics. And He healed them.
25 Large crowds followed Him from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
Jesus “began to preach.” Preaching was the central part of Jesus’ ministry and should be the highlight of our ministry. Biblical preaching is empowered by God.
The word “preach” simply means “to proclaim, publish or make known.’ Preaching is not the sole prerogative of the pastor. Every believer is to proclaim the word of the Lord.
Jesus preached like no other man. Mat.7:29 says, “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” He preached what the Father told Him. He said in John 12:49, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak”
R.C.H. Lenski wrote: The point to be noted is that to preach is not to argue, reason, dispute, or convince by intellectual proof against all of which a keen intellect may bring counter argument. We simply state in public or testify to all men the truth which God bids us state. No argument can assail the truth presented in this announcement or testimony. Men either believe the truth, as all sane men should, or refuse to believe it, as only fools venture to do’ (MacArthur, p.108).
Jesus preached that people should repent.” The word means ‘to change”. It means to recognize the wrongness of our sins and turn to God. John had taught repentance. Matthew 3:1-2 (NKJV) “1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” He just picked up where the one preparing His way left off.
“Repent” – Repentance is a radical turning from sin, first in one’s mind and perception of sin. That change of perception always results in a change in behavior. I pray that the Lord would enable us to see the sinfulness of sin. I pray that seeing it we would hate it not because of what it does to us or the blessings it robs us of, but to hate it because of the holiness and greatness of the One it is against.
They were to repent because “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Messiah was on the scene. Jesus was ready to rule their hearts! The Kingdom of Heaven – Kingdom means reign, rule, and authority. The Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God refers to His rule, reign, and authority. Because God the Son was at hand, wherever He went, the kingdom was at hand. Even though there will be an earthly manifestation of a physical kingdom one day, anytime, anywhere a person repents of sin and in humility places their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, they have the Kingdom of God within them and they have become a Kingdom citizen with a new citizenship. Philippians 3:20 (NKJV) says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”. From Matthew 4:17-16:20, this is the main message of the King to those in the world.
Let me ask you a question. Are you following Jesus? Have you come in repentance, obedience, submission, trust, and are you continuing with perseverance to follow Him in spite of the cost? Jesus isn’t calling the crowds; He is calling those who will deny self, take up their cross and follow Him. Will you like Andrew, Peter, James, and John leave all and immediately follow Him?