Yesterday I saw how the ministry of Jesus began. It started with an obedient heart, a water baptism and an open heaven where Father, Son and Spirit expressed the Trinity of God. Then, right after the Father declared his utmost love, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested through the tempting of Satan. And unlike what happened to Adam in The Garden, Jesus won - and the angels came to minister to Him.
Today, I will zone in and look at how the ministry of Jesus began.
Matthew 4:12-17 says, "When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali - to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles - 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.” From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
I am struggling to understand why Jesus went North when John went South. It was recorded by Josephus Flavius, a first-century Romano-Jewish historian who was born in Jerusalem, that John the Baptist was imprisoned in Machaerus, a fortified hilltop palace located in Jordan, 16 miles southeast of the mouth of the Jordan River on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. John was executed in approximately 32 AD, shortly before the Passover was about to take place. I suppose it's because John's purpose had been done, and Jesus took over where John's ministry had left off.
Verse 17 says, "from then on Jesus began to preach, "Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near."
I have to say I am amazed! For me, typically, when people speak about Jesus, it's all sounds so "Christmas-y" - "peace on earth and joy to all" is what is typically heard. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard that the ministry of Jesus began with REPENT for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.
I'm curious to dive in deep, and see how the teachings and the works of Jesus are tied to His preaching of repentance. The Holy Spirit is definitely giving me new eyes to see through the faith gene of Christ.
But wait...I was going to focus on the first disciples tomorrow...but since there is nothing more about stated about the ministry of Jesus, then I will take this moment to examine the first disciples of Jesus. I wonder if they too had the faith gene?
Verses 18 to 22 says, "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. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. 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, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."
I think that pretty much states it. Of all the men that Jesus could have picked, He chose these men for a reason. Perhaps He knew they would immediately accept His invitation. All He said, "Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people." At once, they left their loved ones, and their possessions, and followed him. How many of us would do that? But Jesus knew their hearts even before they did - that must have been why He picked them.
As an aside, I always wondered how Ezekiel was able to do it. How was he able to walk away from his dead wife, his dearest treasure, without mourning? But now, I get it - at least better than I did. Since the glory of the Lord has shined down on me, through prophetic words, visions and dreams, I understand the wisdom seen in how Ezekiel was able to trust God more than his own feelings. (The Death of Ezekiel's Wife can be found in Ezekiel Chapter 24:15-27).
So, this brings me back to John the Baptiste and why, possibly, Jesus went in the opposite direction. He must have been told by the Father not to pursue him - not to save him from an earthly death. I mean, why would He? He came to suffer the same thing - as the final atonement. The blood sacrifice as the everlasting atonement.
"Son of man, on the day I take away their stronghold - their joy and and glory, their heart's desire, their dearest treasure - I will also take away their sons and daughters. And on that day a survivor from Jerusalem will come to you in Babylon and tell you what has happened. And when he arrives, your voice will suddenly return so you can talk to him, and you will be a symbol for these people. Then they will know that am the Lord." Ezekiel 24:25-27
The Lord considers our dearest treasure, our spouse and our sons and daughters, as strongholds. He considers our personal joy and glory, our self-love and self-esteem, as strongholds. He says that our heart's desire is a stronghold! I guess this is why Jesus also said, "Who is my mother and my brother" when Mary and his brothers came to see Him. Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Luke 12:48-50
So, in the end, I have learned so much from this passage. First, the ministry of Jesus is all about repentance! The mission of Christ is to tell people to turn from their sins and turn to God because the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Second, the first disciples dropped everything to follow Jesus. The left their livelihood, their possessions, their family - all to follow Jesus. Third, an heir to the throne of God, a brother and sister in Christ, is a person who does the will of the Father in Heaven.
Thank you Holy Spirit for revealing the Word of God to me. May the eyes of the spiritually blind be opened. Father, I pray these words that I write for you give glory to your name, and they be multiplied in your sight. Amen.