Matthew 4:12–25: The Beginning of Jesus’ Public Ministry
When Jesus defeated Satan’s temptations, Jesus bound that strong man in order to begin plundering his house (Matt. 12:29). Satan succeeded in binding Adam and Eve (and all their descendants after them), but Jesus turned the tables to bind Satan. Now that Jesus has been qualified and hailed as king, baptized and anointed as Christ, and established victorious as a conqueror, he begins the public phase of his rescue mission. The second half of Matthew 4 offers a summary of Jesus’ message, mandate, and ministry that is marked by discipleship. Here, we see the blueprints for Jesus’ building of his kingdom. Here, we see the initial overview of how Jesus came to make disciples of all nations.
1. Why is John’s being “arrested/handed over” significant here at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry? Why is it significant that Jesus withdraws to Galilee? How long does Jesus remain in Galilee, according to the Gospel of Matthew? Why is it significant that Galilee called “Galilee of the nations”? When Jesus begins his ministry, how similar is his message to what John had preached in preparation for Jesus’ coming (Matt. 3:2; 4:17)?
2. How many accounts does Matthew give us of Jesus’ calling of his disciples? What did Simon Peter and Andrew leave behind to follow Jesus? What did James and John, the sons of Zebedee, leave behind to follow Jesus? What does Jesus ask of them? How does Matthew portray their response? Why is Jesus so eager to call his disciples at this early stage of his ministry? How does this insistence upon discipleship inform the rest of Jesus’ ministry?
3. In what ways is Jesus’ ministry similar to the ministry of John the Baptist? In what ways are they different? How would you characterize or summarize the kind of ministry that Jesus did? What role does teaching play? What role does healing play? Where does Jesus go in this phase of his public ministry? From where do people come to follow him? What should we make of the crowds who are following Jesus?
4. How does this passage shape a vision for discipleship in the church? Why does Jesus place such a premium on discipleship? In what ways is the church called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as disciple-makers? What does it mean to be a disciple? What does it mean to make a disciple of someone else? What hinders you from helping others to grow as disciples of Jesus? What is one area you might step into to serve someone else to help them in their discipleship?