Friday, May 12, 2017

42 - Christ's Messaage to Capernaum

He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. Mat 3:16.  This statement may well be the key to defining the ministry of Christ. 

   And leaving Nazareth, He came and lived in Capernaum, which is on the seacoast, in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali, 
    so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying,      "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations! 
   The people who sat in darkness saw a great Light; and Light has sprung up to those who sat in the region and shadow of death." 
   From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Mat 4:13-17.

Christ Leaves Home

  When Christ left Nazareth, after His close encounter with death by being thrown off a cliff, He went back to Capernaum on the coast of the Sea of Galilee.  Matthew writes that this was so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, "The land ... beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations! The people who sat in darkness saw a great Light; and Light has sprung up to those who sat in the region and shadow of death." Isaiah 9:10

   The people who sat in darkness.  This is an interesting statement considering the area of Israel to which it refers.  Galilee was predominately Gentile in its population. Guzik.  It has been estimated that 70% of the people there were non-Jewish, they sat in darkness.  This area of Israel was known as "Galilee of the Gentiles," a portion of the country which had been overrun more than any other by the foreign invader, and therefore known as "the region and shadow of death". EBC

  The people who sat in darkness saw a great Light.  The light of the world (John 8:12) came walking to them on two feet and He preached to them the same message that runs through the whole Old TestamentRepent! Mat. 4:17.  It was the same message that John the Baptist had preached and the same message that is predominate throughout the New Testament.  

  The message is not if you want to go to heaven you must do good deeds, or you must go to confession; it is not even you must help the needy.  It is simply, Repent.  Ask Jehovah to forgive you for the sins you have committed.  Accept the fact that because of Christ's death and resurrection Jehovah will forgive you; at the same time remembering that faith without works is dead. James 2:20.    the faith which does not produce good works is useless in the matter of salvation. Barnes

    Repentance, of course, involves a change in one's mindset so that the sins that are repented of are replaced with doing good deeds and helping the needy and having a high standard of morals.  In many cases, it involves a total change in lifestyle; for those who were born into a home where Christian values were taught the outer change might be almost imperceptible.

   For the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Mat 4:17.   The gospel that John the Baptist and Christ preached was not the gospel of salvation through the death of Christ.  It was the message that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  Those of us who grew up in the Evangelical faith, by default, believe that Christ preached the message of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension.  That was an impossible message for Christ to preach - that message did not yet exist.

   Christ's message was - the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  It was not until after the spirit of God descended on the Church on the day of Pentecost that the death and resurrection of Christ became the main topic of The Christian Church.     
   The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand, Repent and believe the Gospel.’” Then this misleading author (Edward F. Hills, ThD) asks, “And what Gospel was this which Jesus commanded all who heard him to believe? ... That he should die on the cross for sinners.” This is a complete falsehood, since at this stage Jesus said not a word about his death! 

   In Matthew 16:21 (=Mark 8:31) ... Jesus first begin to speak a word about his vitally important death! Yet he had been preaching as the basis of the saving Gospel the Good News ... about the Kingdom of God. That primary element of the Gospel, its basis, has been lost from popular evangelism, and this calls for major reform.
Anthony Buzzard^

^ Focus on the Kingdom, Vol. 17 No. 4, January, 2015