Matt 4:12-17 – Jesus Begins His Ministry

Christian MölkMatthew Leave a Comment

Matt 4:12

  1. As soon as Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been imprisoned, he began his ministry in Galilee.
    1. The enemies of the gospel can silence individual preachers, but they cannot silence the gospel as a whole. As soon as John was silenced, Jesus took over.
  2. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, at that time there were a lot of people living in the fertile Galilee, up to 3 million people.
    1. Galilee was a border area where both Jews and Gentiles lived.

Matt 4:13

  1. Although Jesus was born in Bethlehem and later settled in Capernaum, we still say “Jesus of Nazareth”. In Jesus’ day, Nazareth was a despised city up north and Jesus has no problem being associated and identified with despised people.
    1. The reason Jesus left Nazareth was because they did not receive him (Luke 4:16-30).
    1. Even today, Jews call Christians “Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5).
  2. Capernaum is the city that Matthew describes as “Jesus’ own city” (Matthew 9:1) and is located on the shores of Lake Gennesaret.In Jesus’ time, it was a relatively large city with about 30,000 inhabitants.
    1. Capernaum is actually called Kfar Nahum, which means the village of Nahum, and is probably named after the prophet Nahum.
    1. Capernaum was a suitable base for Jesus’ activities because it had a mixed population, was a thoroughfare for trade, was relatively large and had a synagogue, a Roman military barracks and a customs house.
    1. Five of Jesus’ disciples were from Capernaum; Simon Peter, Andrew, Matthew (Levi), John and James.
    1. Today, only the ruins of Capernaum remain and it is a typical destination for Christian pilgrims.
      1. Among the ruins are the remains of a 3rd century synagogue, said to have been built on top of the synagogue that existed in Jesus’ time.
      1. The Catholic Church has also built a basilica above what is believed to be Peter’s house.

Matt 4:14

  1. Matthew has a habit of reference everything Jesus does to the Old Testament and this is a reference to Isaiah 9:1-7.
  2. One of the reasons Jesus moved to Capernaum was so that “the Gentiles would see a light in the darkness”, in other words, that the whole world, not just the Jewish people, would hear about salvation.
  3. Just as Jesus moved into a “dark” and “pagan” area, so we Christians today are called to be a “light” in a dark world. Wherever there is darkness, we Christians should go there to spread the light of Jesus.

Matt 4:17

  1. Jesus proclaims the same message as John the Baptist, which sends a clear signal to King Herod: “you can stop a preacher of the gospel, but you cannot stop the gospel!”
    1. Although John and Jesus proclaim the same thing, there is a difference in that John announced that the Messiah will come soon, while Jesus IS the Messiah.
  2. The first word in the Gospel is “converted”. This is the first word that John the Baptist, Jesus and the disciples proclaimed.
    1. Peter’s first exhortation to the newly saved after his first sermon is that they need to repent (Acts 2:38).
    1. To repent means to “change direction in life”, to “turn around”. If one has previously walked a path that has led to destruction, one needs to turn around and go to God instead.
      1. If you are in Stockholm and want to go to Gothenburg, you first need to leave Stockholm to go to Gothenburg. In this parable, turning around means first leaving the place you are in and then going to the new place.
        1. Just as you can’t enter the kingdom of God without first repenting, you can’t come to Gothenburg unless you first leave Stockholm.
  3. In the other Gospels it says “the kingdom of God” instead of “the kingdom of heaven” (Mark 1:15). This is because a pious Jew avoided mentioning the word “God” and said instead the place where he lived, i.e. “heaven”.
    1. Matthew was a Jew who wrote his gospel to Jews and therefore he writes “the kingdom of heaven” instead of “the kingdom of God”, which is the same thing.
    1. This language usage is still alive in our Swedish language today. We talk about going to heaven when we die, but what we really mean is not the blue and cloudy atmosphere, but that we go to God when we die.
Share & Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *