MATTHEW 4:12-25 THE KING SETTING UP
12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee.
The history is not consecutive, for it was not Matthews design to make it so. He leaves out much that others record, because not suitable for his purpose. Possibly John was put in prison more than once. It seems that the imprisonment of John called our Lord away from the immediate scene of persecution to the more rustic region of Galilee. He became the more publicly active when his forerunner was laid aside. As the morning star is hidden, the sun chines out the more brightly. His departure was not caused by fear, nor by desire of self-pleasing; but he moved under the guidance of the Lord God who sent him. 13-16. And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung tip , Note how the movements of our King are all ordered according to diving prophecy. Leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum to fulfill a passage in the book of Isaiah. There was an ancient program which settled from of old the track of his royal progresses. He went where the foreknowledge and predestination of Jehovah had declared his way.
He went, moreover, where he was needed, even to the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim. The real light encountered the great darkness; the far-off ones were visited by him who gathers together the outcasts of Israel. Our Lord courts not those who glory in their light, but those who pine in their darkness: he comes with heavenly life, not to those who boast of their own life and energy, but to those who are under condemnation, and who feel the shades of death shutting them out from light and hope. Great light is a very suggestive figure for the gospel, and sitting in the region and shadow of death is a very graphic description of men bowed under the power of sin, and paralyzed by fear of condemnation. What a mercy that to those who appear out of the reach of the usual means, to those who dwell by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles , Jesus comes with power to enlighten and quicken!
If I feel myself to be an out-of-the-way sinner, Lord, come to me, and cause me to know that light is sprung up even for me!
17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
He continued the warning which John had given: Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The King exceeds his herald, but he does not differ from him as to his message. Happy is the preacher whose word is such that his Lord can endorse it! Repentance is the demand of the Law, of the Gospel, and of John, who was the connecting link between the two.
Immediate repentance is demanded because the theocracy is established: the kingdom demands turning from sin. In Christ Jesus God was about to reign among the sons of men, and therefore men were to seek peace with him. How much more ought we to repent who live in the midst of that kingdom! What manner of persons ought we to be who look for his Second Advent! The kingdom of heaven is at hand , let us be as men that look for their Lord. O my gracious King and Savior, I pray thee, accept my repentance as to past rebellions as a proof of my present loyalty!
18, 19. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Our Lord not only preached the kingdom, but he now began to call one and another into its service, and I privilege. He was walking by the sea : and there and then he began his converting, calling, and ordaining work.
Where he found himself living, there he put forth his power. Our sphere is where we are.
Jesus had a special eye for fishers. He summoned to his side the fishing:, brothers whom he had chosen from of old. He had previously called them by grace, and now he calls them into the ministry. They were busy in a lawful occupation when he called them to be ministers: our Lord does not call idlers but fishers. His word was imperial Follow me, his work was appropriate to their occupation as fishers; it was full of royal promise I will make you fishers of men ; and it was eminently instructive; for an evangelist and a fisher have man, points of likeness. From this passage we learn that nobody can make a man-fisher but our Lord himself, and that those whom he calls can only become successful by following him.
Lord, as a winner of souls cause me to imitate thy spirit and method, that I may not labor in vain!
20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
The call was effectual. No nets can entangle those whom Jesus calls to follow him. They come straightway; they come at all cost; they come without a question; they come to quit old haunts; they come to follow their leader without stipulation or reserve.
Lord, cause me ever to be thy faithful and unhesitating follower as long as I live! May no nets detain me when thou cost call me!
21, 22. And going on from thence he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Our Lord delighted in fishermen: possibly their bold, heart:, outspoken character fitted them for his service. At any rate, these would be the briars upon which he could graft the roses of his grace. Some he calls to preach when casting their nets. and some while mending them; but in either case they are busy. We shall need both to cast and mend nets after we are called unto our Lords work. Note how our Lord again calls two brethren. Two together are better far than one and one acting singly. The Lord knows that our nature seeks companionship; no companion in work is better than a brother.
This second pair of bothers left their father as well as their fishery; the first left their nets, but these left the ship ; the first have no relatives mentioned, but these quitted father and mother for Christs sake; and they did it as unhesitatingly as the others. It did not seem much of a prospect, to follow the houseless Jesus; but an inward attraction drew them, and they followed on, charmed to obey the voice divine. Zebedee may have thought his sons going was a great loss to him; but it is not recorded that he expressed any objection to their doing so. Perhaps he gladly gave up his boys for such a service; we feel sure that their mother did. In the service of Jesus we are not to be restrained by ties of kindred: he has a higher claim than father or husband.
Lord, call me, and my brother, and all my family into thy grace, if not into thy ministry!
23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Our Lord was ever on the move: he went about all Galilee. The Great Itinerant made a province his parish. He taught in their synagogues , but he was equally at home in their streets: he cared nothing for consecrated places. Teaching and preaching go well with healing; thus soul and body are both taken care of. Our Lords great power is seen in the universality of his healing energy: healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Dwell on those words, all manner. But our Lord was not content with miracles for the body, he had the gospel for the soul, that gospel which lies in his own person as King, in his promise of pardon to believers, and in his rule of love over those who are loyal to him. He preached the gospel of the kingdom , a right royal gospel, which made men kings and priests. To this gospel the miracles of healing were so many seals. At this day the healing of souls is an equally sure seal of God upon the gospel.
Lord, I know the truth and certainty of thy gospel; for I have felt thy healing hand upon my heart; may I feel the rule and power of thy kingdom, and joyfully yield myself to thy sway!
24. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatics, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
Of course, men told one another of the great prophet. Even the regions beyond began to hear of him. Syria heard again that there was a God in Israel who could recover a man of his leprosy. Now the worst cases are brought to him; epileptics, the possessed, and the mad were led to him, and were not led in vain. What a bill of diseases we find in this verse! Diseases, torments, devils, lunacy, palsy , and so forth. And what a receipt at the foot: and he healed them ! Oh, that men were eager to bring their spiritual ailments to the Savior! It would lead to the same result: in every case we should read, he healed them. Our King surrounded himself with the spiritual pomp of gratitude by displaying his power to bless the afflicted. Some kings have pretended to heal by their touch, but Jesus really did so. Never king, or prophet, could work such marvels as he did. Well might his fame be great!
25. And there followed him great multitudes or people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.
Such a teacher is sure to have a following. Yet how small his spiritual following compared with the great multitudes who outwardly came to him! Our King has many nominal subjects; but few there are who know him as their Lord, so as to be renewed in heart by the power of his grace: these along enter truly into his kingdom, and it is foolish and wicked to talk of including any others in his spiritual domain. Yet is it a hopeful sign when there is a great inquiry after Jesus, and every region and city yields its quota to the hearing throng.
Now we shall hear more from the blessed lips of him who was King in Jerusalem, and also Preacher to the people.