Matthew starts this section by again noting how many details of Jesus’ life were fortold by the prophets. The Dead Sea scrolls printed on scrolls 500 years before Jesus included Isaiah where this prophecy of His ministry in the area of Galilee comes from. In only the first four chapters, Matthew has shown that it was foretold that the coming Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, then need to be brought out of Egypt, then grow up in Nazareth, and finally minister in the area of Galilee. It is amazing to see how God wove all the details of Jesus’ life together before He was ever born and that we can actually go back and see the proof of this miracle. I notice proof from this that God is all knowing and everywhere. He knew the end from the beginning and everything in between. At each difficult moment that we feel helpless or unsure of which way to go, He is right there with us.
It is important to note the way Jesus begins His ministry. “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” He did not say, “Some day you’ll die and then there’ll be this Kingdom.” He said, “it is near.” What does this mean? As we’ll see as we get deeper into the message Jesus taught, He was not founding a religion. He was declaring a new Kingdom Governmental Authority. This Kingdom was with Him and in Him and His entire message was based upon inviting people to accept citizenship in this Kingdom. As we saw last week, Satan controls most of this world and Jesus was announcing that God sent Him to reclaim it. We’ll see later in this and other scriptures that His plan has always been to do that through His body (you!).
Jesus then began to gather His disciples. He did this by telling them to drop everything about their former lives and radically follow Him. These scruffy uneducated men were used to completely remake this world, but first they had to entirely give their lives to Him. This is the only way true transformation happens. It is the same with us. If we want our lives to be truly meaningful, we must over and over again devote our lives to following Him. No matter where He’s calling you, He’s calling you to give yourself to Him completely.
The final verses of this chapter tell how the next couple years of Jesus’ ministry will go. He will teach and preach about this new Kingdom. Along with this Kingdom that He is inviting them into is healing from all evils of this world. As people began to get glimpses of what a true life with God was like, they came in droves. This Kingdom was so radically different from the religion they had been taught, the people were hungry!
Are you living the full Kingdom life that Jesus teaches, or are you simply a member of a religion? I’ld love to hear your thoughts. He’ll get deeper into this subject as we follow along tomorrow.