Mat 4:12-17 What event does Matthew note as marking the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry? See Mat 4:12. Did that event, in fact, mark the actual beginning of Jesus’ ministry? See Joh 3:24 and consider the events John records in Joh 1:19-4:43 that would have taken place mostly outside of Galilee prior to this time; scholars refer to this time as the year of obscurity. Although not marking the actual beginning of Jesus’ ministry, what was significant about John’s imprisonment for Jesus’ ministry, especially in regard to the multitudes who had come to follow John? See Joh 3:30. Consider John’s willingness as a bond slave of God to decrease, even to the point of being imprisoned and put to death, in order that He for Whom he had prepared the way might increase; what does this teach us about what can be accomplished for God’s kingdom when God’s servants are willing to serve Him without reservation and without regard for their own glory? From an eternal perspective, do you think John regrets condemning the sin of Herod for which he was imprisoned and eventually executed, and for which he necessarily decreased? Should we ever regret proclaiming the righteous truth, even when as a result we know that it will result in our own “decrease”? For what very practical reason might Matthew have begun his account of Jesus’ public ministry after John’s imprisonment and withdrawal into Galilee? See Mat 9:1,9. What does this teach us about why we should not expect the gospels to be complete or identical in their descriptions of Jesus’ life and ministry? Cf. Joh 21:25. Why did Jesus leave Nazareth and settle in Capernaum? See Luk 4:14-31. Why did Matthew consider it prophetically significant that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, then settled in Capernaum? See Mat 2:5-6, 23, and 4:14-16. How would these facts have been a powerful witness to the Jews who were increasingly rejecting the gospel, especially as it went forth to the Gentiles, that Jesus was their promised Messiah? In this light, what does Matthew wish to foreshadow by highlighting that after Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth He came to “Galilee of the Gentiles”? What does Matthew emphasize as the first word of Jesus’ public ministry? See Mat 4:17. Why would that be significant to his Jewish readers who were increasingly rejecting the Gospel as it went forth to the Gentiles without the demands of the Mosaic law? Cf. Act 26:20.
Mat 4:18-22 Who does Matthew record were the first disciples that Jesus called? Was this Jesus’ first contact with Peter and Andrew? See Joh 1:35-42, Luk 4:38-39. What other disciples had Jesus been associated with prior to this time? See Joh 1:43-49. From what city were Peter, Andrew, and Philip? See Joh 1:44. Locate Bethsaida, Capernaum, Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem on a Bible map. What additional information does Luke record concerning the events described in these verses? See Luk 5:1-10. Considering that Peter, Andrew, James and John had previously been associated with Jesus, what was significant about their calling described in these verses? See Mat 4:20, 22, Luk 5:11. How might Zebedee, the father of James and John, have reacted to losing the help of his two sons in his fishing business? Should we as fathers ever begrudge our children forsaking us to serve their heavenly Father?
1. It is likely that Nathanael is the same person as Bartholomew, who is closely associated with Philip in the listings of the 12 apostles in the Synoptic Gospels, but never mentioned by John in his gospel; see Mat 10:2-3, Mar 3:16-18, Luk 6:14, Joh 21:2. Nathanael/Bartholomew is also supposed by church tradition to be the bridegroom at the marriage of Cana Jesus attended.↩