'At that time Herod, the ruler of Galilee, heard about Jesus.' (Matthew 14.1)
Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a hamlet in Galilee, the northern part of what the Roman occupants came to call Palestine. Galilee’s main landmark, the Sea of Galilee, is really a freshwater lake. Much of Jesus’ public activity unfolded along its shores. No surprise then, that some of his closest followers were fishermen.
The Sea of Galilee was no tranquil beauty spot: a trade route went past its densely populated shores. The Gospel writers tell us that, time and again, crowds followed Jesus around.
Nazareth lay 20 miles further west and was much quieter. So, at one point during his public ministry, Jesus made a strategic move: he relocated to Capernaum, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus was viral before being viral was a thing!
Picture yourself in Capernaum attending your local synagogue in the hope of catching Jesus’ latest TED talk. If you’d been there, what would you have heard?
So often we associate Jesus with moral teaching. But if that’s all we focus on, we’ve missed the point of why he came. Matthew wants us to feel the weight and hear the heartbeat of Jesus’ whole mission and message.
Everything about Jesus’ life was deliberate. He lived in Capernaum to fulfil what was said in the Scriptures (v.14). The story has the stamp of God’s authorship on it. Not one word spoken of Jesus failed before, and that means for you and me, not one word God has spoken will fail us either.
Therefore, the Kingdom of God, the heartbeat of the message and ministry of Jesus, demands a response. It is a present reality; nothing can stop it! The question is, will we stop (repent) and let the arrival of the Kingdom disrupt our lives for good?