FROM THAT TIME
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matthew 4:18 ¶ And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Matthew 4:23 ¶ 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.
In verses seventeen and twenty-three of our context we are told that the Lord Jesus went about preaching the gospel of the kingdom. But in verse seventeen we also have a time reference as to when he started. For, as in our title, we first read that he began to preach, “From that time.” But what was the occurrence which marked his beginning to publicly preach? Let us go back a few verses to see if we can find out.
Matthew 4:12 ¶ 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.
Having read these preceding verses we learn that the time of his public ministry being launched was marked by two things. The first was the ending of John the Baptist’s ministry. And the other was that it was at the set time declared by the Prophet Isaiah. John was the forerunner, sent to herald the coming of King Jesus! Therefore at the finishing of his mission, the king appears!
And it was prophesied of John that he would come before the king in “the spirit and power of Elijah.” The forerunner would not be in the “person” of Elijah, but in the “power” of Elijah! Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Luke 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
And just knowing that John the Baptist was the designated forerunner of Christ, we perceive that the prophesy of Malachi 4:5-6 referred to him. But if that was not enough, we have the interpretation of the Person of the King himself concerning this passage. Consider these verses:
Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Our Lord states that John the Baptist was the greatest man brought forth by the natural birth prior to the coming of his completed redemption. But then he states that when the kingdom is entered by the new, spiritual birth, (John 3:3,5), the least spiritually born then would be greater that the greatest of the Old Testament from the natural birth.
Then he clearly tells us that the law and the prophets were only operative until John finished his ministry. For then the King would come to establish the kingdom. He then clearly states that the prophesy of Malachi was fulfilled by John the Baptist. He states, this is Elias, or Elijah! But this, he stated, cannot be received except with the presence of two things — the will to receive it, and effectual ears to hear it. And we know by all the confusion of the millennialists of our day, that very few have both of these!
If you just have to have a physical Elijah appearing, you can find that this already happened. Luke 9:28 ¶ And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. 30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias (Elijah): 31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
But that is not what our Lord emphatically stated! He most pointedly proclaimed that John the Baptist is Elias (Elijah), which was for to come. Therefore once his forerunner had finished his mission, the King of kings appears, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom! And it was therefore From That Time!
And as he instructed his forerunner John, at his baptism, they were to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Therefore it was also at the appointed time as revealed by the Prophet Isaiah, as has already been stated. And John clearly knew that as the king increased in his public ministry, he must decrease as his position of forerunner was fulfilled! John 3:28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
For to believe that Elijah is yet to come in bodily presence, is to believe that God’s Messiah has not come. Because the forerunner in the spirit and power of Elijah was to introduce Jesus of Nazareth as very God! The orthodox Jews still set a plate for Elijah during their holy days, as they refuse to believe that Jesus is Messiah. And multitudes of evangelical professors believe that the bodily person of the Prophet Elijah will appear on earth, when our Lord has already said, And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, speaking of John the Baptist! Therefore by not receiving it, it shows that there are not spiritual ears granting the will to hear this proclamation of their professed Lord!
One must wonder if this is not at lease part of the “strong delusion” which God shall send to those who received not the love of the truth! 2 Thessalonians 2:10 …because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: For even right-wing conservatism holds more sway in evangelical religion in our day than does the love of the truth!
But why did the Lord choose fishermen and not the learned men of Judaism for the spread of his gospel? First of all it is God’s kingdom and not Israel’s! The terms, kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven are one and the same. For the Lord Jesus used them interchangeably. Matthew 19:23 ¶ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
And listen to the Apostle Paul as he reveals the passing over of the scribe for the choosing of the unlearned. 1 Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
All glory belongs to God and the Lamb! Therefore he chose the foolish things, weak things, base things, despised things, and things which are not, in order to bring to nothing the glory of those who would claim it for themselves! That no flesh should glory in his presence.
And the effectual call of the gospel is made so by the Holy Spirit, and not by learned information! And when sent forth by the Holy Spirit in the usage of preaching, it is that which separates both unto eternal life and unto eternal death. Therefore it must never be by learned letters, which kills spiritually, but by the very spirit of the word! 2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
The church has long been satisfied, even desirous of, learned men bringing ‘sermons.’ It has long since departed from desiring Spirit-called men of low estate bringing ‘messages’ from God. With the former one can fill stadiums with hundreds. But with the latter, as very few in our day have ears to hear, you can but hardly attract a few faithful ones! But it is only those preaching messages from God, by the Holy Spirit who are fulfilling the true mission from God! 1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (that is, the ‘utterance”) of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Preaching must be as the setting forth of the very ‘utterances of God!’ Paul said he preached in the stead of Christ! 2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Secondly, the Lord chose fishermen and not the learned scribes because they were already accustomed to the understandings of casting their nets. Sometimes it yielded nothing. Sometimes it yielded a great many fish, among whom some were bad and some were good. Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And it is rightly called “fishing” – not “catching!”
Matthew 13:47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The true gospel set forth by the Holy Spirit through God-called men is the greatest power ever sent forth on earth. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. The gospel releases the “power of God unto salvation.” And it flows from one of faith preaching to others to whom God grants the gift of faith. Thus revealing, not the morality of man, but the imputed righteousness of God. For this required Christ’s becoming sin for the one becoming truly righteous! 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Such a powerful agent! 2 Corinthians 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) But none shall see the glories of heaven, or behold the face of the glorified Christ without it! And none shall be glorified without that! See I John 3:2.
Pastor Gene Breed
January 18, 2019