This is the sermon for Sunday, May 15th, 2011.

Matthew part 8

Responding to the Gospel message.

 Matthew 4:12-17 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 fulfill 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.”

Introduction

Last time we looked at the temptation of Jesus found in Matthew 4:1-11.  We saw that Jesus was led into this time of wilderness temptation of Satan’s by the Holy Spirit Himself.  Satan tempted Him in three areas: hunger, power, and worship.  We also learned that every wilderness temptation that you and I go through, we are being led by the Holy Spirit into that wilderness time.  This is not bad news, but great news.  He has given us His Word, and His presence to help us in those wilderness times.

This morning, we are going to begin looking into the beginning of Jesus Galilean ministry.  Jesus is going to start preaching, and He has a specific message that He is bringing, that I believe we need to have in our minds as we endeavor to unpack all the teachings within His Galilean ministry – and that message is repentance.

Now, how should one respond to the Gospel message that has been delivered?  By shaking the minister’s hand?  By repeating some sinner’s prayer?  By signing up for discipleship classes?  You see, all those things are very popular today, but these are not the true biblical responses when the Gospel is preached.  As we unpack the text, we will endeavor to discover the true biblical response.  Let’s begin.

The timing of the Gospel message.

Matthew 4:12 – When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.

 Here, we need to discuss some timing issues.

  • Matthew is not giving us a blow by blow account of Jesus ministry.  Meaning, this event doesn’t happen right after the temptation of Jesus, but there is about a year gap between His temptation and Him beginning His ministry in Galilee.
  • In fact, many scholars feel that the events of John 2-4 actually take place before Jesus begins His ministry in Galilee.

Why was John the Baptist imprisoned?

  • Matthew 14 reveals this to us.

Matthew  14:3-4 –  3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.”

Why did Jesus withdraw to Galilee?

  • It wasn’t to hide and cower from Herod; Jesus knew that Herod couldn’t do anything to Him unless the Father ordained it.
  • I believe two reasons:
  • First, as we shall see later, to fulfill Old Testament Scriptures.
  • Second, because He would be calling His disciples from here.
  • Galilee also wasn’t the religious center of Judea; it had a Gentile population as well.  He reached out to common, and in Matthew’s own case, unclean people to follow Him.

When the Gospel message is properly preached, it brings light in the midst of darkness.

Matthew 4:13-16 –  13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill 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.”

 Jesus enters a land of darkness and gloom to fulfill Scripture.

 Isaiah 9:1-2 – 1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

  • The land of Zebulun and Naphtali were the first tribes of Israel to fall to the Assyrian invaders, because of their wickedness.
  • But the good news is that God had not abandoned them, for they will be the first to actually hear the Gospel of the Kingdom.
  • We should be so grateful for this short passage of Scripture in Matthew, because it speaks an eternal truth.  As the Gospel goes forth, it is by the Holy Spirit that Jesus enters the land of darkness of gloom of our stone-cold sinful hearts.  And it is within those hearts that the light of His Gospel has dawned.

The proper response to the Gospel message is repentance.

Matthew 4:17 – From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

 What does it mean to repent?

  • It is the Greek word μετανοέω (met-an-o-eh’-o).  It literally means, “to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction).”
  • A more traditional translation of the word is, “to change the way you think and act.”  But its meaning is much deeper than that.
  • According to Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament words, μετανοέω, “denotes a radical turning from sin to a new way of life oriented towards God…and it’s proven by actions and fruitful living.”
  • The Free Bible Commentary describes repentance as, “a willingness to change from one’s self-centered existence to a life informed and directed by God.  It calls for a turning from the priority and bondage of the self.  Basically it is a new attitude, a new world view, a new master.”
  • It is not about repeating some “sinner’s prayer.”
  • Μετανοέω is a PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERITAVE VERB.  Meaning – it is not a one time event we do, a continual, life-long command of our Lord – in other words, to repent daily.

Why should we repent?

  • Jesus said it well, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
  • Near is the Greek word ἐγγίζω (eng-id’-zo).  It means, “to make near, that is, (reflexively) approach: – approach, be at hand, come (draw) near, be (come, draw) nigh.”
  • As Jesus begins preaching and doing His miracles during His Galilean ministry He is going to reveal a “now but not yet” aspect of the Kingdom.  Meaning, His Kingdom has come now in the sense that the King of the Kingdom – Jesus Christ – is present; but not yet, because He hasn’t died, ascended to heaven, sent the Holy Spirit, and then come again at the consummation of all things.  Which when at His second coming, all the world itself will be made new and all traces a sin will be done away with.

Conclusion

As we conclude, what can we apply from our text this morning?

  • Well first off, the most important message a preacher can preach is the one most neglected or misunderstood at this time – and that is the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
  • This Gospel of the Kingdom is not “Your best life now,” but it is the King has come to bring light to those who are living in sin and gloom.
  • The response to the Gospel message is not the sinner’s prayer being repeated but true biblical repentance – a radical change of attitude and action that results from heart converted to Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
  • This repentance is not a one time act, but it is something that is continual in the life of the Christian.
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