12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”[f]
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Tomorrow is the beginning of the season of Lent, a time of reflection.
We can prepare by considering how John Wesley saw the faith of the church as being lived out. William Willimon, in his book “United Methodist Beliefs: A Brief Introduction” described Wesley valuing belief put into practice, belief in motion. Put differently, the faith of the Church is meant to be lived out both in worship and everyday life of the believer. Wesley saw value in both the warm heart and strong social witness. He was also practical seeing the difference between the power of God versus the form of Godliness. While we may say we desire and pray for the real religion of the power of God, our personal lives and our churches can take on the formalities of godliness while denying God’s power among us.
Our six verses of scripture tell a story:
4:12 John had been put in prison. John was imprisoned for his bold rebuke of Herod Antipas.
4:13 leaving Nazareth. Some time elapsed between vv. 12 and 13. Jesus’ stay in Nazareth ended abruptly when He was violently rejected by the people of Nazareth, who tried to murder Him (Luke 4:16–30). Capernaum. He settled in this important town on the trade route at the N end of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum was the home of Peter and Andrew (v. 18), James and John (v. 21), and Matthew (9:9). A comparison of the gospels reveals that Christ had already ministered extensively in Capernaum (Luke 4:23).
4:15 Galilee of the Gentiles. This name was used even in Isaiah’s time because Galilee lay on the route through which all Gentiles passed in and out of Israel. In Jesus’ time, the region of Galilee had become an important center of Roman occupation. The prophecy cited by Matthew is from Is. 9:1, 2.
4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach. This marks the beginning of His public ministry. Note that His message was an exact echo of what John the Baptist preached. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The opening word of this first sermon sets the tone for Jesus’ entire earthly ministry (Luke 5:32). Repentance was a constant motif in all His public preaching. And in His closing charge to the apostles, He commanded them to preach repentance as well (Luke 24:47).
by Clarence Beverage
For Pondering & Prayer
In Pastor Joe’s message this past Sunday he spoke at length about “ripple effects.” How something we say or do today can live on if but only 1. If we are inspired to do something and 2. We believe that God is constantly at work.
As you begin your time of reflection what might that be?
Is humanity bound to get it only partly right? What did Jesus encounter in his ministry, Wesley in his and we in ours?
Is the road to getting it right starting by recognizing seeing where things can be better now?
Is there something in your heart and mind you really want to dig into and have influence through God’s power and love?
Prayer: Holy Lord, may we find time to be at peace and sense the presence of Your Spirit. Help us to put into words that come from deep inside our soul which we need to share with you and then wait in peace to know what comes next. Amen.