A Call to Commit -- The beginning of the Messiah's Ministry

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Last week, we learned how to Win instead of giving way to Sin by looking at our Lord and the temptations He faced from the devil himself in the wilderness of Judea.
This week, we are moving on in our study of Matthew to the second half of Chapter 4, in Vs. 12-25, where we will be looking at the beginning of the Messiah’s Ministry and a call to His disciples to commit to following Him.
I want to begin today by saying this…the call to commit to following Jesus is extended and expected of every born again believer and often times comes at a very high price.
It can take a toll on you and the life you live. It can cause strain on relationships with your friends and family members, your co-workers and acquaintances. It can cause you to lose your job. It can cause you oppression and bring persecution. It can cause you to feel isolated, alone and separated from the world. And in the most dire situations it can cause you to lose your life for Christ’s sake.
Jesus said in...
Luke 9:23–24 (KJV 1900)
23 If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
Paul said in...
2 Timothy 3:12 KJV 1900
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
And then Jesus said in...
John 15:18–21 KJV 1900
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
Living a life fully committed to Christ is extremely challenging.
So, the question then becomes why do it then?
Bro. Bobby you make it sound like being a Christian is a horrible thing!
If it’s so hard then why would anyone do it?
Well, the answer to that is because the REWARDS of being a Christian, a born again child of God, far outweigh the RISKS that one might face for being one.
And the risk one runs by not being a Christian, far outweigh the risk associated with being a child of God.
You see, the riskiest thing that can happen to me for being a child of God is that I am persecuted to the point of death.
But for the child of God, death is but the doorway to life eternal.
For the unbeliever though, the one who says that the Christian way of life is too hard or not flashy enough, the risk of dying lost in your sins is the result of eternal death.
I may be oppressed, or persecuted, or shamed or possibly even lose my life for the cause of Christ but in turn, I gain eternal life which is far greater.
But on the other hand, if I remain lost and undone in my sins, I can gain the whole world and everything it has to offer and yet lose my own soul to eternal death and damnation.
The road down here for the born again child of God may be rough and long but dear friend we are never alone! As the old hymn says...
For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley and when things go wrong, He’ll make them right. And the God of the good times, is still God in the bad times. He’s the God of the day and still God of the night.
He will never leave us nor forsake us and there is nothing on this side of eternity more fulfilling than having a relationship with Him, Amen!
So, with no further ado, if you have your Bible’s turned to Matthew Chapter 4 verse 12 would you say, Amen?

The Commute of Jesus(Vs. 12-16)

When the Bible says here, “now when” we need to understand that Jesus didn’t immediately go to Galilee nor was John immediately arrested after Jesus temptation in the wilderness.
Most scholars believe that Matthew’s gospel picks up around the beginning of Jesus second year of ministry.
The first year of Jesus ministry is often referred to as “The year of obscurity” because there isn’t a ton of information written about it.
We know after his baptism He was immediately led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted but then what?
Well, the only gospel that really touches on Jesus first year is the Book of John and you will find what little there is in Chapter 1 starting around Verse 29 and continuing on through Chapter 4 Verse 42.
Now for sake of time this morning we can’t cover all of this but I want to read you what John Phillips said about this time because it’s a great summary of the year we miss here in the Book of Matthew.
Much had happened since He had gone south to be baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist. The apostle John filled in the details in his Gospel. John told of the Lord's preliminary activities in Galilee: the calling of the disciples, the first miracle in Cana, and the first visit to Capernaum (John 1:35-2:12). John went on to tell of the Lord's early Judean ministry, His first Passover after His anointing, the cleansing of the temple, the talk with Nicodemus, the Lord's baptism of His disciples, and the loyalty of John the Baptist (2:13-3:36). And the apostle told of the Lord leaving Judea for Galilee, His short stop in Samaria, and His encounter with the woman at the well (4:1-42). — John Phillips Commentary Series
A lot takes place from the time of Jesus tempting in the wilderness until the time of His commute to Galilee.
On top of what John Phillips said here, John the Baptist at the end of this year of obscurity is imprisoned because of his denouncing of Herod Antipas and Herodias’ marriage.
Herodias was originally married to Phillip the brother of Herod Antipas but apparently upon a visit from Antipas to his brother Phillip in Rome, Antipas and Herodias fell in love and then they both divorced their then spouses and remarried one another!
Talk about a love triangle!
This news angered the Jews mightily! One place I read said this...
The Jews were stunned and angered by this unholy marriage. Herodias was the wife of Antipas’ own brother! The two had committed an unpardonable sin according to their holy Scriptures: “If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness. They shall be childless.” Leviticus 20:21 — Early Church History. org
The most outspoken of the Jews though was John the Baptist! I’m sure the others were angered but it’s one of those deals where more than likely everyone was to scared to do or say anything about it but not John the Baptizer!
He had already called the Pharisees and Scribes a brood of vipers and now he began to let his voice be heard on the flagrant sin of Herod Antipas and Herodias!
I just love John the Baptist, don’t you?!
He didn’t hold anything back! In his eyes, sin was sin and he didn’t mind calling it what it was!
He didn’t care if you were a prominent member of the Sanhedrin council or the governor of the state, if you did wrong, he was going to let you know about it!
But because of his outspokenness against the sin of Herod Antipas and Herodias, he was imprisoned in the fortress of Machaerus on the eastern side of the Dead Sea and eventually beheaded.
I’m sure Herod Antipas and Herodias thought this would quell their situation but what they didn’t realize is that this was all part of God’s plan, for John the Baptizer already knew that Jesus must increase and he must decrease.
Therefore, his imprisonment gave way and made way for the ministry of the Messiah to come along full force!
So, upon John’s imprisonment, Jesus leaves His hometown of Nazareth, the place where He had called home for the entirety of His childhood and makes His way into Galilee and chooses the city of Capernaum as His new headquarters.
Notice something about His new headquarters though before we move on.
Matthew 4:13–16 KJV 1900
13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
Even where Jesus sets up shop as His new area of ministry fulfilled prophecy of the Old Testament.
There’s that phrase again… “that it might be fulfilled!”
Before we move on I want to share with you what John Phillips said of Capernaum and Galilee because it will help us to get into the mindset of this day and time and give us a bit of visual as to what one might encounter on a daily basis in Galilee.
Capernaum was much more important than Nazareth as a base for reaching Galilee. Situated on the shore of the sea of Galilee, Capernaum was about twenty-five miles from Nazareth and ten miles from Tiberias, an important city not mentioned in the New Testament. The Romans had a famous spa at Tiberias; its hot baths attracted many sick people.
Galilee was cut off from the theological bastion of Jerusalem. The district had never been wholly Jewish, for Solomon had given twenty Galilean cities to Hiram, king of Tyre. Constant invasions and settlement by Gentiles gave the area a mixed population; the western shore of the sea of Galilee was dotted with numerous towns and fishing villages occupied by large numbers of Gentile people. The more racially pure cities of Judea looked with scorn on Galilee and ridiculed the Galilean accent. By leaving Judea and settling in Galilee, Jesus made a significant gesture. It was an indication of His worldwide purpose, always present in His thinking even when He was ministering to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Galilee was crossed by military highways north to south and by ancient caravan routes east to west. In this busy international corridor one could as easily meet a Roman courier or a Greek architect as a quisling Jewish tax collector or a Hebrew peasant.
The sea of Galilee is no more than a lake ringed by mountains. On the western shore the mountains were fertile and covered with orchards, farms, and villages in Jesus' day. Across the lake rose the forbidding ramparts of the desert, which are part of a range that keeps pace with the Jordan all the way south to the Dead Sea and on to the gulf of Aqaba. To the north were the mountains of Lebanon, dominated by majestic Hermon, the summit of which is never free from snow. The sea of Galilee, some 680 feet below sea level, lies in a tropical climate.
In Jesus' day nine cities bordered the lake and a busy life went on all around it. Township ran into township about the feet of the green western hills, and along the shore there were docks and harbors. Farmers elbowed fishermen; dockworkers jostled coopers and shipwrights. Fishing and fish curing were big business, employing thousands of families and making Galilee famous in the Roman world long before the Gospels were written. An intricate system of aqueducts carried water to the farms and orchards. There were dyeworks at Magdala and pottery kilns and shipyards at Capernaum. Presiding over the whole scene was the regal city of Tiberias with its magnificent Herodian palace, where Greek sculptures shone in the sun and reminded the Jews that their land was in the hands of the Gentiles.
Walking the roads of Galilee, a Jew would meet long caravans heading south to the fords of Jordan. He would meet Rome's marching cohorts encased in iron, and their officers richly arrayed in armor adorned with purple and gold. He would meet Phoenician merchants bringing the treasures of lands across the sea to the bazaars and markets of a hundred towns. He would see chariots of the wealthy, troops of gladiators, and bands of roving entertainers coming to play before the cosmopolitans of Caesarea, Tiberias, and Decapolis. This was "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Matthew 4:15), as the proud Judeans contemptuously termed it. This was where Jesus chose to live.
One of Galilee's busy centers of activity was Capernaum, where Peter and Andrew lived, not far from James and John. There Matthew had plied his trade as a publican, a traitor tax-collector for the Gentile overlords of the land. — John Phillips Commentary Series
From here, we will see the onset of Jesus ministry and the calling of His disciples but first we must see His communication upon entering Capernaum.

The Communication of Jesus(Vs. 17)

The message Jesus begins preaching is the same message that John the Baptist was preaching and if I’m being honest the message that still needs to be preached today!
There is the call to repent.
The call to repent redounds to all! Every person that has ever been born has been weighed in the balances of God and found wanting for we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God!
And Jesus said, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish!”
Why must we repent?
Because the kingdom of God is at hand!
For the kingdom of heaven
The entering in or being denied entrance thereunto is but a breath away for all of us!
Upon drawing our last breath we will all either be granted entrance into heaven or we will be denied access and relinquished to a place called hell for the Bible says in..
John 3:3 KJV 1900
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 3:5–7 KJV 1900
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Is at hand
Jesus preached that we must repent in order to enter heaven but more importantly was the urgency in His preaching!
Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
Listen to me this morning friend, not a single person sitting here is guaranteed another second in this ole world and therefore, you better be prepared to meet your God!
If you haven’t gotten things right with God this morning friend, you need to do business with God right now!
Don’t wait until the end of the service for it may never come!
Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
Come right now and get things right with God if you haven’t ever done so before!
The communication of Jesus message was stern! It was direct! It was convicting! And He wasted no time in getting it out there!
We’ve seen The Commute and The Communication. Now, let’s look at The Call of His Disciples.

The Call of His Disciples(Vs. 18-22)

Here again, between Vs. 17 and Vs. 18 there are some events that take place that Matthew’s gospel doesn’t record.
Jesus upon entering into Capernaum began to preach this message of repentance on the Sabbaths and the people of the area were astonished at His teachings for His word was with authority the Bible says.
He preached in their synagogues and cast out an unclean spirit. He healed Peter’s mother-in-law and many in the area who where plagued with sickness and diseases and unclean spirits.
Because of His healing and preaching and teaching, Jesus in a very short amount of time had incurred a very large gathering of followers.
In Luke’s gospel picking up in Chapter 5 the Bible says...
Luke 5:1–11 KJV 1900
1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
As I began to think about the significance of this passage there were a few things that came to mind.
First was the fact that these men had known Jesus for at least a year now. They had been introduced to Jesus by John the Baptist. They had seen the water turned into wine at Cana. Peter had experienced the miraculous healing of his mother-in-law. And undoubtedly they had witnessed and seen His healing of the sick and casting out of demons but from the text before us it’s as if, even after experiencing all of these things they hadn’t fully committed to following Jesus.
So what changed all of a sudden?
Why is it that in this moment they forsook all and followed Jesus?
I think the main reason is because now, in this very moment, it wasn’t someone else who was experiencing the miracles of Jesus but it was them personally!
All this time they had been witnessing how Jesus could change the lives of those around Him but now, they have just witnessed how Jesus can also change their lives!
In this very moment Jesus was teaching them that if they were willing to forsake all and follow Him, He would not only give them eternal life but He would help them to experience a more abundant life!
Jesus was teaching these burly fishermen that when the world leaves you coming up empty, if you will give your cares to Him, He can turn your defeat into a victory!
He can turn your suffering into satisfaction, your pain into praise and your weakness into worship!
And what I want you to know this morning friend is that Jesus can do the same thing for you!
Whatever it is you’re dealing with, whatever it is your going through, whatever it is that’s causing you pain and anguish, heartache and strife, stress and anxiety, if you will turn it over to Him and trust in Him, He will help you deal with it. He will help you through it. And He will help you overcome it!
And when you experience the victory that can only come through Lord Jesus Christ, you must do as these men did and fully commit to following Him!
Some of you here this morning have already tasted and seen that the Lord is good but you have never fully committed your way unto the Lord.
This morning, I pray that if you have experienced the goodness of God that you, like these fishermen here, will forsake all and follow Jesus!
He wants to make a fisher of men out of you but you must be willing to submit to His call upon your life and follow Him!
These men the Bible says immediately left their nets, their way of life, their sustenance, their livelihoods and followed Jesus!
Do you realize they left everything they had ever known in order that they might inherit eternal life!
There was a call to commit and there was a commitment to the call.
Won’t you commit this morning?
Whatever it is that God is calling you to do, won’t you submit to that call of God upon your life?
Commit totally and completely and God will do mighty wonderful things through you!
There’s The Commute, The Communication, The Call, and lastly, there’s The Continuing of the Curing.

The Continuing of the Curing(Vs. 23-25)

This morning as we come to a close, the thing I want to leave with you is this…Jesus is still in the curing business today.
Whatever it is that you are dealing with, whether it be a physical ailment, a mental ailment, a worldly ailment, or a spiritual ailment…whatever problem you’re facing here today, I want you to know that Jesus and Jesus alone can totally and eternally fix your issue.
He is the great physician and He wants to help you here today!
Maybe you’re soul sick and lost. Well guess what, Jesus is the only one who can deliver you from your sins.
John 3:16–18 KJV 1900
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Maybe you’re facing the cares and strifes of this world. Well guess what, Jesus said in...
Matthew 11:28–30 KJV 1900
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Peter said in...
1 Peter 5:7 KJV 1900
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
The Bible says in...
Psalm 55:22 KJV 1900
22 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 37:5 KJV 1900
5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; Trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
Jesus is calling you to commit to Him today. Fully, completely, and totally.
No more of this partial commitment stuff.
Today is the day and right now is this time to fully commit and submit to the call of God upon your life.
The only question that remains is will you?
Will your surrender all to the one who loved you so much that He died for you?
Peter, Andrew, James and John and many more the likes of these men throughout history have forsook it all to Jesus.
Won’t you do the same today?
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