Connections 01.22.2023: Jesus’s Ministry Begins

Matthew 4:12-23

It must be a sobering moment for Jesus. He has just spent time on his own in the wilderness, enduring and overcoming the devil’s temptations. Now he comes back to civilization to learn that his cousin John, who had paved the way for him and recently baptized him, has been arrested.

This string of events, both inspiring and devastating, lights the flame of Jesus’s ministry. He must feel it ignite and realize that his time has come. I can picture him near his home by the sea in Capernaum, gazing out at the vastness of the waters, hearing the sounds of the waves, watching the sea birds dive for food. He takes walks along the shore, communing with God to gather strength for what he knows he has to do next.

On one of those walks, Jesus starts to gather followers. These are what we would call “blue-collar” men, with dirty hands, smelly clothes, and sweaty brows, sticky with seawater and fish scales. But Jesus sees in them something he knows his ministry will need: accessibility, relatability, and persistence. His choices are wise. The men drop everything and follow him immediately.

And thus begins the ministry of Jesus Christ, who starts by going “throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people” (v. 23).

Jesus did not only come to die on the cross. He came to meet people exactly where they were, to show them compassion and care, and to challenge them to take on a new and better way of living. He did that full throttle for three years in the greatest ministry the world has ever seen.


• Understanding that Jesus was fully human as well as divine, what do you imagine was going through his mind when he returned from the wilderness only to discover that John was in jail?
• Do you think John’s imprisonment might have made Jesus even more determined to fulfill God’s mission?
• Do you like to walk along the shore of the ocean? If so, how does it affect you?
• How hard do you think it would have been to drop everything and follow Jesus the way the first disciples did?
• Why is Jesus’s ministry to people just as significant as his death on the cross?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.


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