Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 4:18-22

12 And Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then he said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the Son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Luke mentions Jesus being in temple as a 12 year old boy when he was found by His parents meeting with the religious leaders and teachers. When His parents had finally found Him, they questioned Him, “Son why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

He answered them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you now know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (See Luke 2:41-50)

Yet it was not until 18 years later that Christ was baptized at the age of 30 and began his ministry. What is the reason for these intervening years between Christ’s understanding God’s plan for him and the start of his ministry?

To answer this, one must understand the Jewish culture and the mission Christ was to perform. In Numbers 4:2-3 it states that a priest should be 30 – 50 years old. Since Christ is considered our High Priest, could this be the reason why? But Christ did not act as a priest while on earth, He is our High Priest in Heaven. According to Jewish custom and law, one could not be considered a teacher or rabbi if he was less than 30 years old. Corresponding evidence of this theory is the ministry of John the Baptist. John was 6 months older then Jesus and began his ministry just a few months before the Baptism of Jesus.

The age of thirty was a cultural norm for those who were leaders within their society in both Roman and Greek culture. Examples of this can be found in the relationship between Plato and Socrates. Plato was Socrates’s teacher and, upon reaching the proper age, Socrates continued to teach Plato’s lessons even after his teacher’s death.

If Christ intended to be a leader, it was important that he fit into the culture of his time in order to be seen as a rabbi or teacher who could lead disciples. It would be considerably more difficult for Christ to be accepted by the people if he ignored these cultural norms by starting to preach and teach at 16 rather than 30. And, similar to the relationship between Plato and Socrates, Christ would be a leader and teacher of disciples who would continue to spread His teachings after his death.

In his account on the life of Christ, Luke- the doctor and historian- gives us a vivid picture of the events about to take place in the passage we have just read. According to Luke, Jesus was walking along the sea shore with a multitude following behind Him. Upon seeing Peter with his boat, Jesus stepped into the boat and asked Peter to shove out a little way in the water so that he might speak to the people from where so they could see and hear Him better.

This might seem a random question to ask those that appears to be total strangers. However, John in his Gospel, informs us that Jesus had first met Andrew, the brother of Peter, around the time of Jesus baptism. See John 1:35-50 for a list of Jesus first disciples and how they came to follow Jesus. Andrew, Peter’s brother had been a disciple of John and upon meeting Jesus had decided to follow Jesus. The same was also true of James and his brother John.

Why were the disciples away from Jesus at this time? It was not unusual for disciples to leave their teacher for a short time periods as they would take up their former profession. This gave them financial support while they followed the teacher. A careful reading of Matthew, Luke and John gives us the impression that this was one of those times in which the disciples of Jesus had temporarily left him to return to their professions.

Matthew is making a point in these five texts that we often fail to see. To each one of us that have accepted the invitation to following Jesus, there comes a point in time where we must fully commit ourselves to following Him. We must be willing to set aside our everyday wants and desires and follow with all our heart. Luke describes these new found Disciples of Christ inviting others to follow Jesus. Isn’t this our mission while here on earth?

As I ended the last part of this series with the words spoken by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, I will end this part with the same reference. 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son of the Holy spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen

It was time for the disciples to put away their earthly careers and start fishing for men instead of fishes. Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (see Matthew 4:19) What is it that each of us is fishing for?

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 4:12-17

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: 16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Certain passages in the Bible are transitional passages, meaning they transition us from one thought or theme to another or from one place to another. This is what is taking place in this particular passage. Christ, who has been tempted and triumphed over Satan, is now launching His ministry in the area near Galilee.

Strangely the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke make no mention of Jesus’s early ministry in Judea. His early ministry covers the span of time from His temptation to the start of the ministry in Galilee. This period would have covered two Passover celebrations in the spring of A.D 27 and 28. To find details of his early ministry we would need to look in the Gospel of John and study the first 5 chapters. I had thought of doing just that with our little study, but this is a journey through Matthew, not Matthew and John.

It becomes apparent that Jesus leaves the region of Judea just after healing the man by the pool of Bethesda. (See John 5 – 6:1) It was at this time that the religious leaders rejected Christ and convinced the Roman authorities to have John thrown in prison. They rejected Christ because he healed a man on the Sabbath and his teachings threatened their authority as sole interpreters of the Bible and the Jewish traditions.

As we noted earlier, Jesus spent a little over a year in Judea, with the exception of the trip to the wedding at Cana. (See John 2:1-12) During this time in Judea, both Jesus and John had gathered great crowds together, causing anxiety among Jewish officials. They feared that the Romans would become concerned and remove their religious and political power if they did not reject Jesus. Seeking to maintain their own status and remove any threats to it, the Jewsish leaders did in fact reject Jesus and had John put in prison.

Verse 14 makes the clear point “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet.” Matthew is stating that it isn’t just enough to call yourself the Messiah. Many have made this claim and will continue to claim they are the Messiah, the promised one of God. However, if you truly are the Messiah, then your life must fulfill all the prophecies concerning his life. Isaiah has prophesied that Jesus would teach and preach in the land that had been given to Zebulun and Naphtali. It was a land that was now filled with Gentiles.

16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”

This passage pulled from Isaiah 42:7 and echoes the words written by John in John 1:1-5. 1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 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.

From Genesis 1:3 the Light of Christ has shown upon the world. But since the fall of mankind in Genesis chapter 3 humanity has sat in the shadow of death. We are all captives of sin and thus sit in the darkness of that shadow. Christ, therefore, came into this world to dispel the darkness. Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the light of the world (see John 8:12; 9:5), whose bright beams destroy the darkness of sin and death.

In this land surrounding Galilee were sinners who sat in darkness, until Christ began to preach the message of repentance.  Bright beams of light shown from the Saviour of this world upon fallen man.  “Repent!” Christ preached. Why?  Because the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The “kingdom of heaven,” or “kingdom of God,” constituted the theme of Jesus’ teaching (see Luke 4:43; 8:1). He introduced many of His parables with the words, “The kingdom of heaven is like [or likened]” (see Matthew 13:24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47). He taught His disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom (See Matthew 6:10), and His gospel was the good news of the kingdom (See Matthew 4:23). His disciples were the “children of the kingdom” (See Matthew 13:38)

Today for those that have accepted Christ as our Saviour we are also children of the kingdom. As such, our message to a world that is still living in the shadow of death should also be, “Behold the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  Why should this be our message?

Because on a hill just outside of Jerusalem on a Friday afternoon, Christ hung upon the cross. He hung on the cross weighted down with the burden of sin, separated from His Father.  It was at the time of the evening sacrifice, Jesus raised up his head and in a loud voice said, “It is finished.” (See John 19:30) When those words were spoken, The Lamb of God had sacrificed His life so that we, who did not deserve it, should have everlasting life.  He paid the price so that you and I might become children of the kingdom once more.

Matthew ends his gospel with these compelling words. 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20

As children of the Kingdom we are to carry forward the same message that Christ did on earth. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” So I must ask; has this been our message?

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 4:8-11

8 Again the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold angels came and ministered to Him.

Again the devil tempted Jesus. This time by bringing Him up to a high place and there causing to pass before Christ, all the glory of the kingdoms of the earth. Perhaps you like me have wondered where this took place. Some have speculated it was upon mount Nebo, the mount where Moses saw the plan of salvation pass before his eyes before he fell asleep. It was upon this mount that Michael the Archangel (Michael, another name for Jesus) and Satan had contended for the body of Moses. (see Jude verse 9) The Doctor and Historian Luke the writer of the third gospel of Christ says it was in a moment of time. (Luke 4:5) However this came to be, Satan has taken the gloves off and is pouring all he can into tempting Christ.

Christ who was to die on the cross was now tempted by Satan to worship Satan and in so doing Christ was to receive what was actually rightfully His. Christ was the creator of the world, but it was through the fall of Adam and Eve that Satan claimed to have replaced Adam as the lawful ruler of the world. (see Genesis 1:28; Job 1:6, 7) But Satan ruled as a usurper. Nevertheless, Christ did not directly contest Satan’s claim, and denied only that Satan had any right to accept worship. Jesus even spoke of Satan as the prince of this world, in recognition of his de facto rulership (see John 12:31; John14:30; and John 16:11)

Strangely enough he showed Christ all the glory of the earthly kingdom and man’s power in an attempt to change the role of Jesus from a spiritual Messiah to a political Messiah that would free the Jews from the Romans. A role the Jews would have accepted of Jesus. (see John 6:15 and Luke 4:19) because they were looking for a political Messiah and not a spiritual Messiah.

Even today in oriental lands, to show total respect is to bow or lay down prostrate before someone. This is a sign of total submission to the one you were bowing before. This was the type of posture that Satan was wishing to have Christ do in to worshiping him.

Christ was not impressed and then said to him “Away with you, Satan! For it is written “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve” (see Deuteronomy 6:12; 10:20; Joshua 24:14)

Then the devil left Him and behold angels came and ministered to Him.

Many look on this conflict between Christ and Satan as having no special bearing on their own life; and for them it has little interest. Yet within every human heart this controversy is repeated. Never does one leave the ranks of evil for the service of God without encountering the assaults of Satan.

The enticements which Christ resisted were those that we find it so difficult to withstand. They were urged upon Him in a much greater degree as His character is superior to ours. Yet even with the terrible weight of all the sins of this world upon Him, yet Christ withstood the test of appetite, the love of the world, and upon that the love of display which leads to an appetite for destruction . These were the temptations that overcame Adam and Eve, and that so readily overcome us.

Satan had pointed to Adam’s sin as proof that God’s law was unjust, and could not be obeyed. In our humanity, Christ was to redeem Adam’s failure. When Adam was tempted by the tempter, none of the effects of sin were upon him. He stood in the strength of perfect manhood, possessing the full strength of mind and body. He was surrounded with the glories of Eden. Daily Adam was in communion with heavenly beings. It was not this way with Jesus. When He entered the wilderness to cope with Satan, already for four thousand years the mankind had been decreasing in physical strength, mental power, and in moral worth. Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only in this way could He rescue man from the lowest depths of his degradation.

God is always willing to send His angels to minister unto us in our greatest time of need. He will give his angels charge over thee.

Now when Jesus heard that John had been placed in prison . . . .

%d bloggers like this: