Reading the Word
Matthew 4:12–17 (ESV)
12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Understanding and Applying the Word
Matthew tells us that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2. He was the light that had come into the world to illumine and teach us the truth of God’s will. The truth that Jesus proclaimed is that mankind needed to repent because the kingdom of heaven was at hand. This was a controversial message because Jesus said it was for all people, both Jew and Gentile. Many felt they had no need to repent. After all, they were wonderful, religious people.
Jesus’ message of repentance is still controversial today. Very few people like to think of themselves as bad. Most believe they are generally good, so there would be no need to repent. Scripture teaches us that we are all sinners and fall short. As a result, we are all guilty before God and stand condemned. However, if we listen to Jesus’ words and repent of our sins and trust in his sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, we will receive forgiveness and eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus came to be a sacrifice, but he also came to teach and lead us into the light. Will we listen to his voice and repent?
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