23 January 2011

Matthew 4:12-23

"From that time, Jesus began to proclaim, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.'" (v. 17)


Today's passage provides Matthew's account of the start of Jesus' work or ministry on earth. Prior to that, everything in his life had been a form of preparation leading up to this momentous point. Although none of the four Gospels provide a fulsome account of Jesus' early life, they provide snippets of information which reveal that he was being prepared for something 'big'. What is more, thefirst 12 verses of Matthew 4 describe Jesus' testing in the desert, which proved the final and most decisive portion of his training before he embarked on a ministry that would transform the world. 

Jesus subsequently announces the start of his work with the call, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near". According to Matthew's version, Christ immediately recruits people (fishermen in this case), to help him carry out his work. This clearly demonstrates how central men and women were in Jesus' plans, not only in terms of his focus, but also in methods he used to carry out his work. 

The Scriptures reveal that ordinary people are often used as agents of God's divine interventions. However, unlike Jesus, men and women may not be aware that some trial or testing they are undergoing is a form of preparation for future Godly-inspired work. Nevertheless, akin to Jesus, there is often the need to involve others once God has revealed the work that must be undertaken. Today's passage reveals the calling of the first disciples - followers of Jesus who would play such an important role in his work on earth. 

These verses also show that Christianity is very much a relational faith which involves Christians relying on God for ultimate sustenance and support. However, this passage also reveals the need to rely on fellow believers for a variety help and advice. 

To Ponder

Who are today's equivalents of Jesus' disciples?

How can they be supported in their work? And how can you support them?

How can you best be supported in your discipleship?

Bible notes author

Richard Reddie

Richard Reddie is an author and researcher, who for three years headed up the set all free project which marked the 2007 slave trade bicentenary. He also worked as an education policy officer for Race On The Agenda (ROTA), a social policy think-tank looking at issues affecting London's Black Minority Ethnic Community.