SECTION II: THE PROCLAMATION OF JESUS THE KING
The Circumstances of life
Scripture To Consider:
“Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulon and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who sat in the region of death Light has dawned [or sprung up].'”
“Now 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. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Then they immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
“And going on from there, Jesus saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Jesus.”
“Now Jesus went about Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and Jesus healed them. And great multitudes followed Him from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.” Matthew 4.12-25
Something To Consider:
A distinguishing feature of the gospel of Matthew is the prominence of great discourses or collected sayings of Jesus. The first and most familiar of these is popularly known as the Sermon on the Mount. It may be regarded as a proclamation or manifesto of the King, or as the Magna Carta of His kingdom. The closing verses of chapter four indicate the circumstances under which these sayings were delivered.
After His early baptism and temptation experiences in Judea, Jesus returned to Galilee and settled for a time in Nazareth, the home of His youth and early manhood; but as He was about to begin His public ministry, leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum. And yet, the occasion of His withdrawal to Galilee is declared to be the arrest and imprisonment of John the Baptist. John had severely rebuked the religious rulers in Jerusalem and Judea. Now that his career has been ended their opposition turned to the attempt to interrupt the work of Jesus. If His herald is treated thus, what can the King Himself expect?
Therefore, Jesus retired to a part of the country where their influence was less powerful. Galilee was despised, as lacking in religious privileges. It was, however, an attractive field for the proclamation of the kingdom. The thronging multitudes were keen, alert, and intelligent. Among them were many Gentiles who would carry the good news into the entire world. Here Jesus could collect a large company of followers before offering Himself to the nation in Jerusalem, as the promised Messiah.
The location of Capernaum by the sea, and on the border line of the two ancient tribes of Israel, Zebulon and Naphtali, is stated thus definitely to show how exactly and inspired prophecy was perfectly fulfilled. Isaiah had predicted that these northern tribes, which had suffered most severely, should be granted deliverance from their enemies, and in their darkness of despair should spring up the light of relief.
Matthew declares that the prophecy is most truly fulfilled by the appearance in this region of Jesus, the Light of the world, who would bring deliverance from the tyranny of sin. His coming was, as Matthew always indicates, the coming of a King, and the passage from Isaiah thus further describes Him, “The government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”
Something Else To Consider:
Thus, as Jesus began His ministry in Galilee, it is described as a proclamation of His kingdom, as Jesus declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In the person of the King and in the proclamation of His kingdom the light was shining which yet will in the future banish all darkness from the world.
The first followers of Christ had also been summoned in verses 18-22. These were the brothers Peter and Andrew, and James and John. They previously had known Jesus and believed Him to be the Messiah; but now they were called from their homes and their usual course of life to devote all their time and energies to His service. The King needed men whom He could train as His heralds, and who could aid in proclaiming His kingdom.
Jesus had summoned them with an imperial command, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Their work was to be somewhat similar in kind, requiring the same qualifications and abilities, but its results were to be infinitely more glorious. Promptly, they left their nets, the boat, and their father, and followed Jesus.
Jesus is still summoning men to His service. His command involves sacrifice, but it should be promptly obeyed, for it promises fellowship with a King and the incomparable rewards and privileges of His kingdom. The opening ministry in verses 23-25, probably a circuit in Galilee, had also been accomplished, and it is recorded briefly, before the Sermon on the Mount, to suggest and to summarize the conditions under which the kingdom was being proclaimed.
The ministry was that of teaching and preaching and healing. The last was unquestionably miraculous and it resulted in spreading the fame of Jesus through all the province of Syria, while from every part of Israel actual multitudes thronged about Him. It was at such a time and under such conditions that Jesus uttered those matchless precepts which are preserved for us in the Sermon on the Mount. The followers of Christ who go forth to preach and to teach and to heal in His name can expect to reach the multitudes only in case they observe the laws of His kingdom and manifest in the lives the power of the King.
Something More To Consider:
The location and circumstances leading up to the proclamation of the King in the form of the Sermon on the Mount, was according to Matthew, “…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘The land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned [or sprung up].'”
Setting aside the location, can we relate to the exact circumstances in our own lives? And if not, we may still be sitting in the region and shadow of death, among great darkness. And yet, to every generation since then, the circumstances of life have not really changed. According to Matthew, “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
The greatest honor Jesus could have bestowed upon John the Baptist, who was now awaiting his being beheaded in Herod’s fortress, was to not change a word of John’s original message of repentance. What was relevant for John’s hearers was also relevant for Jesus’ hearers. And the same message of repentance remains relevant in this 21st century evil, wicked, and self-seeking doomed to judgment generation.
And so, the continued circumstances just prior to the Sermon on the Mount found Jesus gathering followers due to His preaching, teaching, and healing brought about by miraculous signs, wonders, and the healing of all manner of sickness among the people. There was no church committee planning sessions. There were no billboards, no full-page ads or articles in the Capernaum Chronicle, and there were no radio and or TV ads or commercials promoting upcoming religious meetings. And yet, the people responded in multitudes gathering to hear the message of repentance and that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.
A Few Final Words:
Jesus’ message and recruiting slogan-style statement was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, therefore, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And they came, Peter and Andrew, James and John, and eventually the remaining called out apostles of Jesus Christ, in the midst of the everyday circumstances of life they followed Jesus. Mattherw also reported that great multitudes from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan began following Him.
But as is plain to see studying the life of Jesus, it is easier to follow Jesus while the crowds are experiencing the miracles of healing, the casting out of demons, and even the abundance of preaching and teaching relating to the gospel of the coming kingdom, than when demonic opposition rises to the surface and nails Christ to an old, rugged cross in an evil attempt to defeat Christianity before it is birthed.
Yes, where did the crowds of people go when persecution, affliction, and human hardships showed up on the front porch demanding surrender and submission to the evil of the day? In other words, are we prepared to become and to remain true followers of Jesus when we realize as true Christians, we are among the few still seeking the straight and narrow paths Jesus instructed His followers to seek?
Will we remain followers of Jesus when living godly in Christ Jesus guarantees us suffering and end time affliction? We cannot wait until America is overrun with anti-Christian opposition to pledge our enduring to the end allegiance to Jesus Christ, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the written and preserved Word of God. At that time, it may be much too late!
The decision to follow Jesus no matter what evil circumstances of life beyond our control are unleashed all over America and every nation upon the earth, that decision must be made well in advance! Therefore, what will be our true response to intense persecution of Christians here in America and around the globe when it becomes a reality?
Will we be found praying for deliverance only, or will we as the early followers of Jesus, who after severe persecution, beatings, confiscation of personal property, and even the threat of death; will we as they, pray for holy boldness to further proclaim the gospel of the kingdom and the message of repentance? This indeed gives us all something more to consider.
Our Father in heaven, thank You for revealing to us as true followers of Jesus Christ in the midst of end time corruption, to remain faithful even unto the end of our lives and or to the end of this age. Draw us Father, to the illuminating light of the Word of God as a moth is drawn to a flame. May our faith never fail in the midst of circumstances and situations that are beyond our control. Teach us to forever follow Jesus. In Him Always, Amen!