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Gospel according to Matthew 4: 12-25 (NIV)
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 fulfil 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.”
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and illness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralysed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
“From that time on” (verse 17) introduces a new phase in the ministry of Jesus (as do the same words in Matthew 16: 21). Having left Nazareth and gone to live in Capernaum, Jesus “began to preach”. Calling some fishermen to join him, he journeyed throughout Galilee, “teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and illness …” (verse 23). He taught, preached and healed.
Jesus taught in the synagogues of Galilee; although Galilee had a very large Gentile population, his ministry was to Jews.
He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom. This was more than a call to repentance; he wanted those who lived under the Law of Moses to understand that forgiveness of sins was available to them in a new and permanent way, because of the gracious gift of their loving and merciful God.
His healing ministry is emphasised in verse 24; no physical, mental or spiritual ailment was beyond his power to heal. To those who brought to Jesus the people who were suffering, perhaps his power to heal overshadowed his less-obvious power to forgive their sin.
To which of Jesus’ supernatural gifts do you most often return, appealing to him to exercise power in the same way that, in his earthly life, he exercised power for others? Do you plead with him for healing for yourself, for healing for another or others, for the healing of your nation or of that part of creation in which you dwell? Do you plead for release for yourself and others?
Perhaps you recognise that you have already been set free through your trust in him. How great is your sense of gratitude? How often, and with what enthusiasm, do you express your thanks to Jesus?