Starting Where We Are: Matthew 4:12-17

Focus Passage: Matthew 4:12-17 (NIrV)

12 John had been put in prison. When Jesus heard about this, he returned to Galilee. 13 Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in the city of Capernaum. It was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 In that way, what the prophet Isaiah had said came true. He had said,

15 “Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
    Galilee, where Gentiles live!
    Land along the Mediterranean Sea! Territory east of the Jordan River!
16 The people who are now living in darkness
    have seen a great light.
They are now living in a very dark land.
    But a light has shined on them.”

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach. “Turn away from your sins!” he said. “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Read Matthew 4:12-17 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

When reading this passage, I am amazed at what Jesus does when He starts His ministry. Not only does He move to what seems like it would be the most secular part of Israel, but He also has a very specific message that He chooses to share.

As our passage closes, we read how Jesus began His ministry, “From that time on Jesus began to preach. ‘Turn away from your sins!’ he said. ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’” (v. 17)

Not only does this message echo the preaching of John the Baptist, it actually picks up exactly where John left off. Our passage opens by saying, “John had been put in prison. When Jesus heard about this, he returned to Galilee.” (v. 12)

In many ways, we could immediately jump from verse 12 and skip down to verse 17. Verses 13-16 contain additional information that is interesting, but doesn’t really advance the narrative significantly.

But in the opening and closing verses of our passage, we see an interesting side of Jesus: Jesus picks up exactly where John’s ministry and message left off. In this way, I believe Jesus is subtly saying that John’s ministry was leading up into His ministry, and that His ministry is a continuation of what John was preaching.

Why is this information important for us today?

This helps emphasize the idea that Jesus is willing to start from where we are currently in our lives, and from wherever that point is, lead us from it to God. Jesus starts at the place where John the Baptist’s ministry ended so that those who were following John could transition their interest and focus onto Him.

Jesus wants to meet us where we are right now, because it is the perfect place for Him to begin His work in our lives.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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