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Matthew 4:23-25: Jesus Begins His Ministry

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 23, 2011


Matthew 4:23-25 KJV 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. (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 lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. (25) And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

 

After His temptation in the wilderness, Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, the area where He had grown up. One would think the best place to begin a ministry would be in your own neighborhood. His first mission was to teach in the synagogues.

It had been more than a month since anyone had seen or heard anything about Jesus. As in every small town, news traveled fast by word of mouth. Many people were excited by the stories, holding high hopes the Messiah had arrived. Those who witnessed Jesus’ baptism remembered every detail like it had happened just a day ago. Others were skeptical. News of His return traveled just as fast. Both groups agreed on one thing, they wanted to hear Him speak. Some to learn more about this mystery, others to test Him.

As Jesus took His position to teach in the synagogue, His eyes gazed over those gathered to hear Him speak. Gathered nearest to Him were the priests in their colorful and costly robes. Tall hats and wide hems on their stately robes identified their coveted positions. Behind them lawyers, publicans, and successful merchants assembled. Crowded in the back were the poor, needy, and impoverished classes of the common Jews.

Silence fell over the broad open room as Jesus was handed the scroll containing the writing of the prophet Isaiah. Only the soft low cooing of doves positioned near the openings could be heard. “Unrolling the book, He found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and new sight to the blind, to set at liberty those having been crushed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Rolling up the book, returning it to the attendant, He sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say to them, Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears.” Luke 4: 17-21 MKJV.

Those positioned in the front began to murmur, saying one to another, “isn’t He the son of a carpenter? How can such an uneducated man make such a claim?” As comments and accusations increased in frequency and volume, those in the back remained silent, as if the Spirit restrained them, their thoughts hidden deep within their hearts.

For a moment Jesus observed the reactions around Him before directed by the Spirit to continue, “And He said to them, You will surely say this proverb to Me, Physician, heal yourself. Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in your native-place. And He said, Truly I say to you, No prophet is accepted in his native-place. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land. But Elijah was not sent to any of them, except to Zarephath, a city of Sidon, to a woman, a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian. And hearing these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.” Luke 4: 23-28 MKJV.

As contempt grew to anger, Satan and his angels quickly planted seeds of hatred, easily taking root within the dark confines of their hearts. Twisted madness took over the crowd. The Son of God, sitting quietly before them was the target of their rage. The priests at the front now shouted orders to those behind them. “Did you hear what He said? He just blasphemed God. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to stand there and let Him get away with that in God’s house? Seize Him. We have to deal with this matter using swift and final judgment.”

As a few of the priests rushed forward to shout insults at Jesus from close range, ensuring they would be heard over the tumult of the crowd, others, urged on by unseen powers misinterpreted the movements of the priests. Two of the men grabbed Jesus to force Him out of the synagogue. Nearing the door shouts from unseen voices was heard. “Take him to the cliff and cast him over.” Satan’s temptations did not work in the wilderness, now he felt compelled to use violence to achieve his goal.

Looking down upon the scene Satan praised himself. He never imagined he could end his controversy with Jesus so easily. Satan was enjoying his victory to such an extent, he forgot there was a higher power watching the scene.

As the crowd rushed through the street, Jesus was at the forefront being pushed, shoved, carried, dropped, and carried again. However, God looked down on His Son. Just as they reached the brink of the cliff, God said, “enough.” In an instant unseen angels entered the crowd. Suddenly everyone stopped. The hands grasping Jesus lost all strength. As their grips released, they took a step or two backwards as a wide gapping hole opened in the middle of the angry mob. Jesus slowly walked through, while people looked straight ahead, listening for confirmation of their accomplished deed had been accomplished. Almost no one noticed the Son of God walk past them to safety.

As Jesus closed in to the back of the crowd, eyes began to turn and follow Him. One by one a few people began to follow Jesus. At the very back of the crowd a mother with a child holding each hand stared blankly into the distance as if in a trance. Unaware of what was happening, her children turned her about, in an effort to keep their eyes on Jesus. Once turned from the crowd, consciousness returned to her. As if awaking from a sleep, her eyes began to focus on the view of the small town, until her sleepy gaze fell upon the form of a solitary man, Jesus.

Phoebe felt a gentle tugging of her hands and her two children proceeded to walk forward. Feeling as if she had just come out of a deep sleep, Phoebe struggled to keep up with the slow pace. Finally gathering her wits, she tried to stop to gather her thoughts. In addition to her two children, something inside kept pulling her forward. Before she knew it, the pace had quickened until they were walking amongst the crowd.

Finally aware of her surroundings, Phoebe cleared her throat, looked down at her children and asked, “and where do you think you are going?” Taqvah, the oldest answered, “to follow Jesus.” Phoebe wondered at his reply for a moment and asked, “where is He going?” Taqvah replied, “to save others like He saved Himself.” Not having witnessed the scene as her children did, she was at a loss for words at the moment. Then she remembered they had been following the crowd at a distance. The next thing she recalled was walking along with this small group, with the children leading her by the hands.

As they neared the outer edge of Galilee, Phoebe tried to stop, but the pull of her children at each hand kept her momentum moving forward. Now her mind began to be filled with particle thoughts. She asked, “why are we following Jesus?” This time her youngest Simchah answered in his sweet childlike voice, “because He wants us to. He wants to save us and help us.” This prompted a number of questions and comments from Phoebe. “Where is He going? Why are we following Him? We are not prepared for a journey. It is time for lunch. Shouldn’t we get something to eat first? How long are we going to be gone?” Finally she said, “I don’t understand.” Taqvah supplied the response, “we just have to follow, you’ll see.”

The man walking in front of her interjected, “I couldn’t help hearing your conversation. Are you hungry?” He reached into his sack, pulled out a loaf of bread and handed it to Phoebe. As she tore off pieces, handing them to Taqvah and Simchah, the man gave her a handful of figs saying, “the Lord will provide.” Phoebe simply responded, “praise the Lord.”

As they traveled the dusty road others joined the small group. As the sun began to set Phoebe realized they had been walking with the small group all day, She wondered exactly where they were, and why she allowed herself to take such an unplanned journey with her two young sons. She began to worry about what to do. At that moment Jesus stopped, turned to the group and announced, we will spend the night here.

People began to prepare the area in military precision. Some went to gather wood while others spread out clothes to cover the ground. Some began to freely provide an assortment food, while others began distributing it. Phoebe had never seen anything like this.

Little Simchah ventured out, with the intent to help gather wood for the fire. Although his legs and feet ached from the long day of travel, he was still determined to help in any way he could. As he wobbled along the edge of the brush, a pair of eyes focused on the young boy. Although the day was fading into night Simchah’s limp was still evident, even against the dark green background. The inability to find any sticks did not discourage little Simchah as he tried to venture further into the woods. Taking note of his determination and struggle, an old man asked Simchah, “do you know anyone who could help me carry this wood to the fire? I think I found too many.” Simchah quickly answered, “I would be happy to,” as he backed out of the bush, bumping into another figure. “Excuse me sir,” Simchah begged as he turned around. Looking up he saw a gentle smile and the kindest eyes beaming down at him in the twilight. It took only a second for Simchah to exclaim, “Jesus!” After a moment of taking in the smile on the young boy’s face, Jesus replied, “I have been watching you. I am so proud you have never complained along the journey. Your faith kept you strong along each step on the road. I know how painful each stride was for you, but here I find you, helping instead of resting. The time has arrived for me to help you.”

Jesus knelt down, took Simchah in His arms, closed His eyes and began to pray. “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should suffer. I can of mine own self do nothing, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” After the short prayer Jesus stood up. Simchah felt a strange sensation extend down his back, where Jesus had grasped him, swiftly traveling down to his feet. Looking down, Simchah saw both of his feet were now straight. An even bigger smile lit his face as Simchah began jumping and dancing. As he ran to his mother he shouted behind himself, “thank you Jesus.”

Phoebe could not believe her eyes as she saw her son running for the first time in his life. They embarrassed, Taqvah joining in said, “mother I told you, we really needed to follow Jesus.”

 

 

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