After Jesus was tested by Satan in the wilderness, he went to back to his childhood home of Nazareth, a city in Galilee. Assumedly, he must have visited his mother, Mary, his father, Joseph, his half-brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas as well as his unnamed half-sisters (Matthew 13:55-56). In years past Galilee had belonged to the Jews – the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali – but because they did not keep God’s laws he gave them over to Roman rule and it was now home to many Gentiles. It was situated alongside one of two of the most important highway trading routes from Egypt to Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria and Turkey), a coastal route called the Way of the Sea. It was here that Jesus heard that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been put into prison. He then left Nazareth and went to Capernaum, which fulfilled a prophecy given to Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).
From that time on Jesus began his ministry to the Jews and Gentiles, preaching throughout the lands,“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
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In this verse, John the Baptist was preaching in Judea and began baptizing new believers in the river Jordan, saying,
Truly, I give baptism with water to those of you whose hearts are changed; but he who comes after me is greater than I, whose shoes I am not good enough to take up; he will give you baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
The baptism of “water, Holy Spirit and fire.” is a fascinating topic. It is represented by and related to Moses’ Tabernacle, the Israelite’s portable holy place of worship where God interacted with them. It is also the proof that God exists, which so many people struggle over.
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In my prior post on Matthew 3:2 I shared that God’s will for us is to let our hearts be turned from sin, and now he tells us why:
Let your change of heart be seen in your works; And even now the axe is put to the root of the trees; every tree then which does not give good fruit is cut down, and put into the fire.
We see in these verses that God made a promise to us that when we believe in Jesus as savior and turn from our sin, our hearts begin to change and make us WANT to do good works. We begin to see truth and hear in our hearts what we must do, even if it’s not the popular decision and even when no one else understands why we do what we do. It doesn’t matter, because God knows.
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The prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of Jesus of a virgin birth,
Now all this took place so that the word of the Lord by the prophet might come true, See, the virgin will be with child, and will give birth to a son, and they will give him the name Immanuel, that is, God with us.
In my prior post on Matthew 1:20-21 I shared that the name Jesus was related to the fact that he was going to forgive people for their sin, and he was also to be called Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (in Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל). Read More “They Will Give Him the Name Immanuel”
“For” is such a tiny, almost insignificant word that it can be easily overlooked in the verse,
An angel of the Lord came to [Joseph] in a dream, saying “Joseph, son of David, have no fear of taking Mary as your wife; because that which is in her body is of the Holy Spirit. And you will give him the name Jesus; for he will give his people salvation from their sins.
But “for” has great significance here; linking a common boy’s name at the time – much like the name “Joshua” today – to a very unique and old story that had been unfolding for generations of Israelites. The promise of a coming Messiah, foretold through the gift of sight given by God to the prophets Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah, suddenly here in the flesh.
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