As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re studying through the Gospel of Matthew, with different brothers teaching through the passages on Sunday mornings when the church meets (see the posts “What’s with the begats?“, “Baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire“, “A Sympathetic High Priest“, and “Playing with Blocks“). Next Sunday, Mael is planning to teach through the end of chapter 4 of Matthew. As our family has discussed this passage before our Sunday meeting, we’ve noticed something interesting.
First of all, in Luke’s Gospel, he says the following about the start of Jesus’ public ministry:
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:14-21 ESV)
Thus, according to Jesus, part of the reason that he came was to fulfill this prophecy. It is interesting that Matthew does not include this prophecy in his Gospel, especially since Matthew seems very interested in showing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
In Matthew 4, the evangelist begins by telling about the temptation of Jesus. Next, he says that Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James, and John to follow him. Then, notice the passage at the end of Matthew chapter 4:
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:23-25 ESV)
So, while Matthew does not specifically quote Isaiah, and while Matthew does not specifically say that Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy, Matthew actually demonstrates that Jesus did fulfill the prophecy. In Luke (Isaiah), we see that Jesus says that he is going to proclaim the good news. In Matthew, we see Jesus actually proclaiming the good news. In Luke (Isaiah), we see that Jesus says that he is going to care for the blind and oppressed. In Matthew, we see Jesus actually healing the sick and casting out oppressive demons.
But, I think we need to take this a little farther. I think that it is very important that Matthew 4:23-25 (the fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy) immediately follows Jesus’ call to Andrew, Peter, James, and John to follow him. When these four fisherman start following Jesus, he immediately starts proclaiming the good news, healing the sick, casting out demons, and caring for the oppressed. I can’t help but think that as Andrew, Peter, James, and John see what Jesus is doing, they also hear his words, “Follow me”. Jesus expected them to follow him – to do what he was doing. We see this specifically when we get to Matthew 10, where Jesus sends out the twelve apostles:
These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” (Matthew 10:5-8 ESV)
So, Jesus called people to follow him, showed them what he was there to do, and then instructed them to do the same. What does that mean for us, those who have also been called to follow Jesus?
Once again, notice the progression: 1) Jesus called people to follow him. 2) Jesus modelled proclaiming the gospel, healing the sick, caring for the oppressed. 3) Jesus told his followers to pray that others would do the same. 4) Jesus told his followers to go and do the same thing.
If we are sitting at Jesus’ feet and learning from him, then we are not yet following Jesus completely. This is very important and necessary, but it is not the extent of being a disciple of Jesus. Once we hear Jesus’ words and message, we are then to continue following Jesus by getting up and doing the same things he did.