is a happy occasion when one of your children marries. Of course, they are in
love – but you are pondering just what might be said about the unknowns of
don’t know where life will take them. Geography uncertain, neither
destination nor paths laid out.
don’t know what experiences they will have along the way. Some will be
gainful, others not – but they have no idea of this.
most important of all, they do not know the truths they will need to
they do not know. Their relationship adventure spins about “who,”, not
“what.” All they really know is a person, the beloved person. On this, they
risk their lifetimes of happiness and joy. We shall see a similar call in this
of Christ’s Ministry
Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He
withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum,
which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to
fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE
LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE
GENTILES-- "THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE
WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED."
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven
is at hand."
(Mat 4:12-17 NASB)
is important to note that Jesus begins His preaching when that of John the
Baptist ends. They don’t overlap, and Jesus is careful to have this so. Why?
simple reason is that all earthly ministries have an end to them; this is
how God changes those ministries.
reason is to avoid any confusion about who really is the Messiah. John’s
purpose was to go before the Messiah; he would be a failure if the world
took him to be the Messiah.
God the Father had His prophets, so must God the Son. John is the last of
the Old Testament prophets, for now Messiah is come.
most important, John’s imprisonment confirms to the crowd his holy life –
and therefore the Messiah he introduces.
retreat into Galilee
will note that Jesus comes to John at the Jordan to be baptized – but begins
His ministry some distance to the North:
(The map is taken from the Son Light maps
insert in E-Sword)
did he retreat into Galilee?
reason is simply this: so that the prophecy would be fulfilled. In
fulfilling it, He also explains it.
reason is an example to us. We are taught to flee persecution, so that
the Gospel might spread. Here we are taught by example.
I suspect his real purpose was to find his disciples – they would be rough
and ready men, not ones with the polished sophistication of Jerusalem’s Pharisees.
Christ begins the first year of His ministry on earth, and His message is,
“Repent.” Not, as most suppose, “Be born again.” In all the New Testament,
the phrase occurs only twice: once for Nicodemus
and once in First Peter.
Why should one repent? Because the Kingdom of Heaven
is at hand. The time to choose is now. The kingdom is at hand; it is easily
available to you. The kingdom is at hand; you must reach for it, for God will
not drive you into it. You have to grasp it.
as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was
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. 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.
(Mat 4:18-22 NASB)
calls His first disciples. It often puzzles modern Christians why Jesus does
things this way. After all, if we wanted disciples, we’d write a curriculum,
have it reviewed and improved by experts (while raising support for it) and
eventually set up an academy of some sort. This is a grievous error.
the difference between modern and ancient teaching: modern teaching aims at
pouring facts (and often enough prejudices) into the eager minds of children –
who, by the way, get very bored with this approach. Is it any wonder, then,
that the student (having been taught that teen age rebellion is both inevitable
and good) often refuses to have more of it?
teaching has but one purpose: to bring the students up to the example of the
teacher. Our youth understand this implicitly: look at the bracelets with
WWJD on them. They want to follow in the right way, but our educators make
this very difficult. To the ancient mind, the education would be student
learning to be like teacher, and then passing along that wisdom. As late as
the 19th century in America, the president of the United States could put this simply:
Give me a log hut, with only a
simple bench, Mark Hopkins
on one end and I on the other, and you may have all the buildings, apparatus,
and libraries without him.
--James A. Garfield
ultimate example of this is Christ Himself. So then, how does one follow
life of those who are called
gives you a simple illustration: Take up your cross and follow Me.
It sounds so dreadful – and then He tells us that His burden is light.
How can this be, unless you carry your cross with His help?
you may ask, “how could anyone endure such things for a lifetime?” It depends
upon your motives. Parents do this almost without thinking; they never really
give up teaching their children. Why is this? Because we love our children.
Love is also the cause of taking up the Cross – love for God Himself.
Learn at the feet of Jesus, then walk in His ways.
of my favorite writers put it this way:
TO MANY the
saying, “Deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow Me,” (Matt. 16:24.) seems
hard, but it will be much harder to hear that final word: “Depart from Me, ye
cursed, into everlasting fire.” (Matt. 25:41.) Those who hear the word of the
cross and follow it willingly now, need not fear that they will hear of eternal
damnation on the day of judgment. This sign of the cross will be in the heavens
when the Lord comes to judge. Then all the servants of the cross, who during
life made themselves one with the Crucified, will draw near with great trust to
Christ, the judge.
Why, then, do
you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom? In the
cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from
enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is
strength of mind, in the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is highest
virtue, in the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor
hope of everlasting life but in the cross.
Take up your
cross, therefore, and follow Jesus, and you shall enter eternal life. He
Himself opened the way before you in carrying His cross, and upon it He died
for you, that you, too, might take up your cross and long to die upon it. If
you die with Him, you shall also live with Him, and if you share His suffering,
you shall also share His glory.
on the march
was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming
the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of
sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and
pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds
followed Him from Galilee and the
Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from
beyond the Jordan.
(Mat 4:23-25 NASB)
will note, please, that Jesus was “going.” The Great Physician makes house
calls, it seems; there’s an example that needs following. What is he doing?
is teaching. This is not a showman; it’s the Messiah teaching His people
is proclaiming the Gospel – the Good News of the kingdom.
course, once word of this gets around, Jesus is going to find Himself with a
crowd. Why does the crowd follow Him?
some, it is to watch the healing. Some for their own healing; others for
the novelty of it; and for many, it’s the miracle that they think will
become the fortress of their faith.
are attracted by His fame. He becomes a celebrity.
many come from great distances for this. But, at lease, they came.
it so much different today? Consider:
will come to hear a great preacher speak – as long as he keeps his
preaching from becoming meddlesome.
are many who preach today who claim miraculous powers – speaking in
tongues, healings – many leading others astray. For if your income
depends upon donations from TV viewers, you don’t want to preach too much
about taking up the cross.
choice is every before us: come to church, listen to a nice sermon, beat the
Baptists to the coffee shop for lunch. But consider well the nature of your
Lord’s claims upon you. You call Him Lord; then know this:
the Way, there is no going.
Without the Truth, there is no knowing.
Without the Life, there is no living.