Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. 4 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:12-17,23-25)
Jesus begins the proclamation of the Gospel here to fulfill the word of God. The Old Testament prophets spoke of God’s promise to send a Redeemer who would establish God’s rule. That time is now fulfilled in Jesus who brings the light and truth of the Gospel to the world.
His message is so simple, so fulfilling, and yet, we shy away from it.
The “good news” he brings is peace, hope, truth, promise, immortality, and salvation. Think of those 6 words. Isn’t that what you and I want? I do.
The Lord comes to reconcile and restore us to friendship with God.
The good news of hope – the Lord comes to dwell with us and to give us a home with him in his heavenly kingdom.
The good news of truth – the Lord Jesus sets us free from the lies and deception of Satan and opens our mind to understand the truth and revelation of God’s word (John 8:32).
The good news of promise – Jesus fulfills the promise of God to reward those who seek him with the treasure of heaven.
The good news of immortality – Jesus overcomes sin and death for us in order to raise our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body which will never die again.
And the good news of salvation – the Lord Jesus delivers us from every fear, every sin, and every obstacle that would keep us from entering his everlasting kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.
There is no price for those gifts. But there are two requirements.
Jesus makes two demands: repent and believe! Repentance requires a change of course – a turning away from sin and disobedience and a turning towards the Lord with faith and submission to his word of truth and righteousness (right living according to God’s truth and moral goodness).
The Holy Spirit gives us a repentant heart, a true sorrow and hatred for sin and its bad consequences (the wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23), and a firm resolution to avoid whatever would lead us into sin. The Holy Spirit gives us grace to see our sin for what it is – rebellion and a rejection of the love of God. God’s grace helps us to turn away from all that would keep us from his love.
The Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the mind and makes it possible for us to accept and to grow in our understanding of the truth. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can know God personally and the truth he reveals to us through his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. To believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior is to accept God’s revelation of his Son as the eternal Word of God and the Redeemer who delivers us from the tyranny of sin, Satan, and death.
God the Father made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to atone for our sins and to bring us back to himself.
For you and me. To bring us the ultimate gift. His very life to bring us life eternal.
Why do we not embrace those gifts? Receive those gifts. Bring those gifts into our lives.
They are there. Awaiting us. Maybe this New Year will be the time we recognize the magnitude of those gifts and bring them into our lives.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, your ways are life and light! Let your word penetrate my heart and transform my mind that I may see your power and glory. Help me to choose your ways and to do what is pleasing to you.”
We are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. We are God’s children. The same spirit of the world, the same false prophets, the same anti-Christ that rejects that the Word became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, was wrapped in swaddling clothes, was heard, seen and touched, likewise rejects that he can take up his abode in us and make us, truly, God’s children. But that’s in fact what God does in Christ. And when we are united to the one who has triumphed over Satan, sin and death, what would we ever fear?