Matthew – God’s Purpose
As we read let us always remember the story of Jesus doesn’t begin with Jesus. God had been at work for a long time. Salvation, which is the main business of Jesus, is an old business. Jesus is the coming together in final form of themes and energies and movements that had been set in motion before the foundation of the world.
Matthew opens the New Testament by setting the local story of Jesus in its world historical context. He makes sure that as we read his account of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we see the connections with everything that has gone before. “Fulfilled” is one of Matthew’s characteristic verbs: such and such happened “that it might be fulfilled.” Jesus is unique, but he is not odd.
Better yet, Matthew tells the story in such a way that not only is everything previous to us completed in Jesus; WE are completed in Jesus! Every day we wake up in the middle of something that is already going on, that has been going on for a long time: genealogy and geology, history and culture, the cosmos–GOD. We are neither accidental nor incidental to the story. We get orientation, briefing, background, reassurance.
Matthew provides the comprehensive context by which we see all God’s creation and salvation completed in Jesus, and all the parts of our lives–work, family, friends, memories, dreams–also completed in Jesus. Lacking such a context, we are in danger of serving Jesus as a mere diversion from the concerns announced in the news and social media. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Now, with these thoughts embedded in our minds, let’s read the beginning of Jesus ministry according to Matthew.
Jesus Begins His Galilean Ministry
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Four Fishermen Called as Disciples
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
FROM THE HEART…
TAG is a child’s game that requires no parts or electronics…only your body. T-A-G are initials for “touch and go”. When we play the game of TAG, the goal for the leader is to touch another person who will now become “it” so they can “touch” someone else. Jesus was now “it”. He began to preach, like John, with the same message, telling people what they must do to come back to God. Jesus began to touch people with the news, “The Kingdom of God is at hand!”, who was standing right in front of them! He also, like John, told them that if they repent of their sins, they will see and hear from God again.
Jesus then shows us a great example of leadership 101 by tagging others to tell God’s story of repent and be saved. Because Jesus touched a lot of lives, becoming very popular as He moved about the region, those who were “tagged” with “Follow Me” quickly left normal life for a life with Jesus. They knew him and watched him at work. They left their work to follow him in His work.
Down through the ages, we come to today. We are called, as believers who have been saved by grace, to touch others with the love of Christ who lives in us. Jesus is still touching lives today. TAG, YOU’RE IT! Tell the story! Someone else needs to be tagged, touched and reconciled to God through Jesus! Touch and go, keep moving in His Holy Spirit, for there are so many to tell of the marvelous, wonderful love of Christ! The Kingdom of God lives in us! All the equipment you need is Jesus. It’s not a game, it’s a matter of life or death.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for tagging and touching us with your relentless love, mercy and grace. Give us boldness with the right words to say for today as we tag and touch someone else who needs you.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.