Creator God, illumine my life by the inviting, guiding, judging, redeeming light of Your holy Word now, I pray.
Read Matthew 4:12-25
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The heart of the Christian gospel is Jesus’ offer to be the leader we can trust–and the insistence that every believer become a follower he can trust” (Jan Hettinga).
The stage has been set for Jesus’ public ministry. Matthew has put the core themes in place. Jesus comes center stage, as John leaves the stage. Yet, as we might suspect if we have paid careful attention to the text so far, in God’s plan, center stage means insignificant Galilee rather than the center of the world, Jerusalem. In fulfillment of Scripture, God’s light shines in the insignificant place: the despised north, where as many Gentiles lived as Jews.
In a few verses, Matthew outlines the shape and content of Jesus’ ministry. This shape combines the focused call and instruction of disciples with a wider ministry to crowds who gather from all over Israel. The content and key theme, in harmony with John the Baptist, is the Kingdom of Heaven, which is mentioned 30 times in Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven is not a territory; it is the active rule of the King. Matthew’s emphasis on the fulfillment of Scriptural promises provides the setting. Jesus’ words have been helpfully translated “the revolution is here!” (David Wenham, The Parables of Jesus). Jesus was embodying God’s revolutionary claim to total authority. He was and is the threat which Herod “the Great” (like other despots) feared.
In Jesus, God is taking center stage. God’s rule has not yet fully replaced other claims to final authority, but it has “come near” (17). This Kingdom is inseparable from Jesus himself. Those who recognize it, follow him. At his word the sick and oppressed are healed. The crowds gather to hear him. Matthew will soon show us others who resist and reject him as the embodiment of God’s rule, but few will be able to ignore him.
If Jesus is king, we aren’t. If Jesus is center stage, we can’t be. If Jesus calls, we must follow. How is heaven’s Kingdom seen through your life?
Lord Jesus, take center stage in my life. Use me as You will, as You take center stage in history.
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