Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And 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, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
Understanding And Applying the Text
These events did not occur immediately after Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Matthew is silent about the intervening time. There was a period where Luke and John tell us John and Jesus were baptizing at the same time.
One of the things Matthew leaves out is the fact the people in Nazareth wanted to kill Jesus. Christ angered them when He declared He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah. (Luke 4:30)
After leaving Nazareth, Jesus moved to Galilee. From that time forward His preached repentance for the Kingdom of heaven was at hand.
The message of repentance was Christ’s message for the rest of His ministry. Repentance was what our Lord preached. We should preach the same thing. It is all too easy to preach morals and works. Preach repentance. If we preach any other Gospel we are accursed. (Galatians 1:6-10)
Matthew teaches us about God’s call through illustration. We will see Jesus express teaching on God’s call in John 6. But here Matthew illustrates it. Christ’s calls. His call changes us. It changes our will. Did Peter, Andrew, James, and John what to follow Christ? You bet they did! They were compelled because they wanted to follow. Christ teaches this in John 6:37. All the Father gives to Christ will come to Him.
But why do they come Paul teaches us in Roman’s no one wants Christ (Romans 3:9-20) This was not a new teaching. Paul quotes several passages from the Old Testament. So if no one wants Christ why do any come? Why did Peter, Andrew, James, and John come? It is because God showed them mercy and changed their hearts. Their faith was a gift. (Ephesians 2:8-9) So often we treat faith as a work. We have to have faith. We have to exercise our faith for salvation. That is contrary to the scripture faith is a gift from God.
They do not come against their will. They followed Christ but because their will was changed.
Their changed will was a gift to them. And they are a gift to us. Christ used them to communicate to us the good news.
Matthew told us at the beginning of the passage Jesus moved to Capernaum by the sea. But he also tells us at end of the passage Jesus did not stay in one place. He scattered the seeds of the Gospel throughout the region.
Christ’s healing was part of His message, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” You do not have to wait long when listening to skeptics. They blaspheme by saying if Christ healed he was not good. He did not heal all. If he had the power to wipe out disease and did not, it proves He was not good.
They err on at least two counts. First, they deny the sinfulness of man. They believe disease or anything not desirous to mankind is evil. They do not recognize that disease, sickness, and death are justice for all sinfulness. Yes, even childhood sickness is just. For we are born sinners and under the wrath of God. Second, they assume God’s purpose is to make life better for us. That is God exists to serve us. They fail to understand we created for a singular purpose. That purpose is to worship and glorify God. We are His servants. It is not the other way around.
But this belief, God exists to serve us, is not limited to skeptics. It is ramped in the church. That is the source of the prosperity gospel. That is the source of the church growth movement. Where we need to make the church relevant to men. Within the church, we try to make God serve man. We fail to preach the glory of God.
Great crowds followed Christ. They came from throughout the region. They did not come to be healed of their true ailment. They came only for temporal healings.
We are no different. When things go our way we are glad to sing praises to God. But let the least little thing go against us and we cry, “Why me God?” As I meditated on this I realized my own sinfulness. I realized my own selfishness. Pray with me that Christ will continue to sanctify us so that we may seek His glory. That we realize we are His servants. He is not our servant.