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Daily Bible Verses | Jesus Begins To Preach | The Kingdom Of Heaven Is At Hand

Audio Bible | Epiphany | Jesus Preaching

Matthew 4: 12-17, 23-25 – Monday After Epiphany (Audio Bible, Spoken Word)

12 ¶ Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
17 ¶ From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

23 ¶ And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judæa, and from beyond Jordan.

Jesus’ public ministry begins as John the Baptist’s concludes, John being imprisoned by Herod for speaking out against the immorality of Herod’s sexual relationship with his brother’s wife. Mission comes with danger, and John the Baptist was not afraid. Nor now is Jesus. Indeed, Jesus begins to preach with the very same words with which John had warned the people to beware of their sins: Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Jesus leaves his home in Nazareth to travel, to be among all the various different communities of Galilee, both Jewish and non-Jewish, the Gentiles. Galilee was something of a cosmopolitan area, reflecting centuries of population movements, including deliberate plantation by occupying powers. The whole of Israel, as distinct from Judea, had rarely enjoyed autonomous governance by the people of Israel. Such was the history of vassalage and conflict.

Jesus, then, deliberately casts himself into a land both multicultural and highly sectarian, Galilee of the Gentiles. Jesus’ mission, that is to say, begins with a broad and inclusive intention, and with an intention to heal. We see manifestations of these intentions in the Gospels, for example in the parable of the good Samaritan, and in Jesus’ speaking with the woman of Samaria, in which movement is made toward the healing of rifts. We see the universality of mission in the first sending forth of the disciples, and we see it in Jesus’ revisions of the laws of ritual purity, thereby opening the love of God to the Gentiles.

As Jesus travels and preaches so energetically through this land, people are brought together and, as in the feeding of the multitude, the men are asked to adopt an attitude of peace, to sit down. It is in this spirit that Jesus lives and works with us today. This is the great inclusive love of Christianity. It is how we find healing, and it is how we hope and pray that all manner of people will follow Jesus with us.

In these verses, the evangelist teaches us that Jesus’ fame now spreads not only through Israel and Judea, and not only through Galilee, but actually through all Syria. This is extraordinary – and something of a reversal of previous conquests. Jesus is indeed a shining light set on a hill, and to so many people underlain by a history of bloodshed, gathering people together in peace to be with Jesus. As we read these Bible verses, we pray that Christians in our time may serve as a beacon of hope to troubled people everywhere.

1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
4 ¶ And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
7 ¶ For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
8 For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61: 1-11)