“Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:12 – 16)
The writer of Matthew assumes, in line with biblical commentators throughout commentating history, that this was done EXPRESSLY to fulfill prophecy. And I would be hesitant to say they are completely wrong – either in Jesus’ purpose or the prophecy being fulfilled. I just want to put forth a different idea.
“From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Verse 17)
If that sounds a lot like John the Baptist, I do not think it is a coincidence. John while being a prophet and a baptizer unsettling and upsetting the status quo, was also a relative to Jesus. It is assumed that at John’s arrest Jesus’ ministry moved into its second stage. That Jesus moved from where he was to other places, for maybe several reasons. And if that is the case, then why did the writer of Matthew not make that more apparent? Yes, Jesus started “recruiting disciples” . . .
“As he walked 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 fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.” (Verses 18 – 23)
There was something charismatic about his presence and his words. Other leaders, prophets, and movers-and-shakers have tried to emulate that. Evangelists and preachers hope, pray, and practice to be as moving and convincing as Jesus was. Everyone who follows Jesus tries to be as he was, in all actions, words, and attitudes. Jesus was, however, a hard act to follow1
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.” (Verse 23)
But what went through mind as I read verse 17, “From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” was that from the time was imprisoned, Jesus carried forth his beloved relative’s cause. Yes, it was also Jesus’ message too. And the message of God. But when a beloved relative can no longer function, it is not unusual for someone in the family to carry forth in their name. I just thought it was a good thing to remember in this fractured world we live in, that family should stick together! May you, beloved reader, as a beloved member of the family of God do so! Selah!