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The Growth Surrounding Jesus (Matthew 4:12-25)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“The Growth Surrounding Jesus”

(Matthew 4:12-25)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

August 26, 2018

Introductory Comments:

We’re continuing our series in the book of Matthew. We saw last week how Jesus overcame temptation and was prepared to enter into ministry. 

Thus far in our study of Matthew, we see that Matthew is pointing us to the fact that Jesus is God’s fulfilled promise; He is the Messiah!

This morning, we will see how Jesus begins His ministry. 

Let’s look at the passage this together. 

Read the Passage

Read Matthew 4:12-24

12 When he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

15 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,

along the road by the sea, beyond the Jordan,

Galilee of the Gentiles.

16 The people who live in darkness

have seen a great light,

and for those living in the land of the shadow of death,

a light has dawned.

17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

18 As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19 “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

23 Now Jesus began to go all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 Then the news about him spread throughout Syria. So they brought to him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics. And he healed them. 25 Large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

Illustration: For those of us that live in Central Florida, we know that with the Summer months comes a lot of rain. As a result of the rain, the grass grows tremendously and ridiculously fast. It seems you have to mow about every 72 hours to keep up with the growth. 

Well, Matthew has shown us that Jesus has grown into a man, He has been baptized and anointed by God, and He has withstood temptation. 

As a result of what Jesus has gone through, we will now see rapid and tremendous growth surrounding His ministry. 

Things are accelerating quickly and unlike the annoying grass in the Florida Summer, the growth surrounding Jesus is a good thing that will bless tremendous amounts of people. 

As we enter into this passage today we are going to see three movements that are growing as Jesus goes into ministry. 

First, we see . . .

I. The Growth of Jesus’ Ministry (vv. 12-17) [on screen]

Jesus had left the region of Galilee to be baptized by John in the wilderness. Now, upon hearing of John’s arrest, He goes back to the region of Galilee.  

However, this time, instead of returning to Nazareth, He went to Capernaum. 

Why would He do this?

Well, Nazareth was a small and insignificant town. 

Capernaum, however, was a bustling town right on the Sea of Galilee.

There were more people in Capernaum, and more people meant more opportunities for ministry.

This is taking place as Jesus’ ministry is ramping up. 

Matthew once again points to the prophecies of Isaiah, which said a great light would be brought to the land of Zebulun and Naphtali.  

Well, Zebulun and Naphtali were two of the twelve tribes of Israel. 

Each of the tribes received a part of the promised land upon settling there. 

The areas inherited by the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were near the land of Galilee during the time of Jesus. 

Now, what of this discussion regarding darkness and the shadow of death?

This is a reminder, by the prophet Isaiah, that the Messiah would bring light into darkness. 

Remember, it was foretold by the angel that Jesus would save His people from their sins. 

Indeed, Jesus would bring salvation for sins, healing for disease, and light into darkness. 

Jesus, the light, would come and He would change lives! Jesus is still bringing light to darkness. Some of you have darkness in your life right now. You can know that Jesus will bring light and rescue you from that darkness! Call out to Him and seek Him!

(pause)

Notice, also that the prophecy said that even the Gentiles (that is the non-Jewish people) would be touched by this light. 

Jesus’ love, healing, and forgiveness would not only touch the Jewish people but would go beyond the people of Israel. 

Jesus is not only the Messiah for the people of Israel, but for the entire world!

(pause)

Then we see that Jesus began to preach. Well, what did He preach?

Look again at verse 17. Jesus preached, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Does this sound familiar?

This is the same message that John was preaching as he told people to repent and prepare for the coming of Jesus’ ministry. Matthew’s first recorded words of Jesus’ ministry are the same as his first recorded words of John’s ministry. 

Jesus’ ministry is here, and He says the kingdom of heaven is near!

Jesus says to repent. 

Remember, as John preached, repentance means turning from our sins and turning to God. 

Repentance indicates a new life committed to new goals in life. 

Matthew Henry, a Puritan preacher, said this of repentance: “The doctrine of repentance is right gospel-doctrine. Not only the austere Baptist, who was looked upon as a melancholy, morose man, but the sweet and gracious Jesus, whose lips dropped as a honey-comb, preached repentance; for it is an unspeakable privilege that room is left for repentance.”

What Matthew Henry is saying is that repentance is not only spoken of my serious and stern Baptist preachers but also by our loving and gracious Lord Jesus. He is calling us to something good and something better, so we should welcome and seek repentance. 

Jesus also speaks of the kingdom of heaven. 

As a reminder, the kingdom of heaven refers to the establishment of God’s rule and working out of His will on the earth.

We see the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God, played out in various ways throughout history. It is something that comes in parts all throughout our time. The kingdom of God has come, is coming, and will come in its full extent later. 

Here, we witness the kingdom of heaven coming vividly and boldly in the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry. 

When Jesus, says “the kingdom of heaven has come near,” in essence, He is saying, “God is working and He is working through me!”

So, we see the growth of Jesus’ ministry. 

Next, notice . . .

II. The Growth of Jesus’ Disciples (vv. 18-22) [on screen]

Let’s look again at verses 18-22. 

18 As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19 “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

We see these four men, two sets of brothers, that all similarly stopped what they were doing to follow Jesus. This is amazing. 

The first two brothers that we hear about are Simon Peter and Andrew. 

We know that Simon Peter and Andrew had heard of Jesus previously because Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, who had followed Jesus to see what He was about. Now, they are both following Jesus. 

Peter would later become one of the closest disciples of Jesus and do great acts in the early church. 

They were fishing and Jesus said follow me and we’ll catch people together, and they did so. 

Second, we see the brothers James and John, sons of Zebedee. 

They were with their father and Jesus called them. 

They left not only their fishing but also their father. 

Leaving one’s family behind in those days was a big deal, yet the brothers did so, and Jesus called them to do so. 

As we see the growth of Jesus’ disciples we must notice the rapid and total obedience of these followers of Jesus. 

They realized that following Jesus was far more important than whatever else they were doing. 

Let us pause for just a moment and soak that in: following Jesus is far more important than whatever else you are doing!

(pause)

So, we see the growth of Jesus’ disciples. 

Finally, let’s discuss . . .

III. The Growth of Jesus’ Fame (vv. 23-25) [on screen]

As Jesus’ ministry is beginning He is immediately having an effect on those around Him. People are coming from all over to hear, see, and experience His ministry. 

Look at verses 23-25 once again.

23 Now Jesus began to go all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 Then the news about him spread throughout Syria. So they brought to him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics. And he healed them. 25 Large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

Jesus is going all over the larger region of Galilee doing these acts: teaching, preaching, and healing. 

As He is teaching, preaching, and healing, the news of His work is spreading and folks are coming to Him and being brought to Him. 

If you look at a map of ancient Palestine, you can see that this is a large area that people are traveling to come see Jesus and experience His work. 

He is teaching in the synagogues, which are the religious education centers for the Jewish people. 

He is preaching the good news of the kingdom, which is pointing people to the work that God is doing through His ministry. 

He is healing every kind of sickness and affliction, and even demon possession. 

Jesus is fighting against every part of sin’s grasp on humanity: both spiritual and physical; so He brings not only spiritual healing but physical healing also. 

He is concerned with the whole person!

We can learn from Jesus’ model here. We should teach about Jesus and His ways, we should preach the coming of the kingdom of God, and we should pray for healing of all kinds in Jesus’ name. 

We see that people came from all over Syria, which refers not to the modern country of Syria we know today, but the area North of Galilee during the time of Jesus. Basically, they were coming from all around! 

People were coming from everywhere to be changed by Jesus and many lives were being impacted by the miraculous work of Jesus!

Matthew is showing us again that Jesus is not just a man, He is indeed the promised Messiah. 

Concluding Thoughts:

As Jesus’ ministry is ramping up we see He immediately is impacting lives. 

Jesus was changing lives nearly 2,000 years ago and He is chaining lives still today. 

He is a life-changer!

Check out our bottom line for this week:

Bottom Line: Jesus began what He was sent to do, so that we could one day do what we were created to do.  [on screen]

(repeat)

This is why Jesus came: to heal and forgive, and point people to the coming kingdom of heaven. 

This is also why we have been created: to point people to the healing and forgiveness of Jesus and to the coming kingdom of heaven. 

Jesus can forgive any and all sins; He can heal any emotional heartache, any deep addiction, any physical disease, any broken heart, any struggling family, any confused mind; and Jesus is the personification, the fulfillment in person, of the coming of the kingdom of heaven. 

We must turn to Him now as people were turning to Him then, and we must turn to Him completely. 

Let’s challenge ourselves this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Ask yourself, “How am I growing in ministry?”  [on screen]

You were created to serve God through ministry.  Are you doing that?

Jesus grew in His ministry as He relocated to Capernaum. 

He realized what God called Him to do, He went to where the need was, and He ministered. 

How about you? How are you growing in your ministry?

  1. Ask yourself, “Am I making disciples?”  [on screen]

Jesus explicitly commanded us to make disciples. 

Read Matthew 28:19-20

19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Our vision statement says that we exist to develop disciples. 

Jesus made disciples who would one day also make disciples. 

Are you making disciples as Jesus did?

  1. Ask yourself, “Am I making the name of Jesus famous?”  [on screen]

Jesus’ fame grew because of His growing ministry. 

Is Jesus famous in your life?

Are you making Jesus famous by displaying His work?

Do people see Jesus in you?

Challenge yourself by answering the weekly challenge questions this week. 

Closing:

Jesus’ ministry is growing and He is changing lives. 

How have you been changed by Jesus and how is the love of Jesus growing in your life?

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Just As I Am

Benediction:

If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

Join us tonight for “An Expedition in the Bible,” our continuing series that overviews the big story of the Bible. I hope to see you tonight at 5:30. 

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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