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Matthew 4:12-23 - The Light of Chang
by Gary Sims
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The Gospels
Matthew 4:12-23 - The Light of Change

Key Verses:
  • 12: “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He went back to Galilee." - The region around the Sea of Galilee was a very busy, highly populated, commercial area; a perfect place to begin a ministry.

  • 16: "These people who live in darkness will see a great light. They live in a place covered with the shadows of death, but a light will shine on them." - Matthew achieves two points by including these verses from Isaiah: first He links Jesus to the scriptures of which his Jewish readers are intimately aware and then he brings the image of creation, light into darkness, into the ministry of Christ.

  • 17: "From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Change your hearts and lives, because the kingdom of heaven is near.'" - Jesus takes up where John the Baptist left off and where we all must begin: REPENT!

  • 19: "Jesus said, 'Come follow me, and I will make you fish for people.'" - Following Christ is more than simple following. It involves the task of spreading the good news and bringing others into His light.

  • 22: "Immediately they left the boat and their father, and they followed Jesus." - As followers of Jesus our lives are changed and nothing is as it once was.

  • 23: "Jesus went everywhere in Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the Good News about the kingdom of heaven, and healing all the people's diseases and sicknesses." - Teaching, preaching, and healing: these were the main aspects of Jesus' ministry that we are called to follow.
Points to Contemplate:
  • Are you living in darkness? Are you struggling with the darkness of guilt? Of regret? The darkness of resentment and anger; broken relations? Is your heart filled with fear and anxiety? Have you wallowed in the darkness of self-indulgence? Are you overwhelmed with the darkness of loneliness, sadness, and despair? Are you experiencing the darkness of grief and loss; of addiction; or the darkness of boredom? How about the darkness of dread and hopelessness? Do you know people struggling with the darkness of not knowing God? The promise of Isaiah says that Christ is the light into the darkness. Have you allowed this light into your heart? Are you bringing this light into the darkness of others?

  • Have you repented? In this repentance has your life been changed? Has your heart been remade; cleansed by the love and grace of God? Do you recognize that if you continue to cling onto the baggage of past sins or hurts that you journey with God will be limited or affected? Are you willing to give your entire life, even those aspects that you grasp on to fervently, over to Christ and allow Him to bring you more fully into the kingdom of heaven?

  • Are you following Jesus? Is He making you "fish for people?" Do you feel that spreading the good news should only be the task of people especially gifted in evangelizing? Do you recognize that all followers of Christ are called to talk about their faith with others? If you are not "fishing," who will? If you are not "fishing," are you truly following the path Jesus wants you to follow?

  • Are you hesitant? The disciples response to Jesus' call was immediate and without hesitation. What keeps you from freely responding to the tasks of ministry in which Christ is calling you? What is your ministry? Do you understand what it is that Jesus wants you to do? Are you teaching, preaching, and healing? Shouldn't all aspects of ministry have these three components in order to be fully representative of Christ?
Promises of the Gospel:

"Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, so He divided the light from the darkness." (Gen 1:3-4 NCV)

"In Him there was life, and that life as the light of all people. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it." (John 1: 4-5 NCV)

"In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. But He did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for His own benefit. But He gave up His place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant. And when He was living as a man, He humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused His death - death on a cross. So God raised Him to the highest place. God made His name greater than every other name so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus - everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and bring glory to God the Father." (Philippians 2: 5-11 NCV)

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