Day Two Hundred Ninety-Seven, Matt. 4, Luke 4-5, Mark 1-2
Today's reading describes the beginning of Jesus' ministry in Galilee, the region in which He grew up. As He is in Nazareth, His hometown, we see that one Sabbath when He is in the synagogue (as is His custom, to go to the syngagogue on the Sabbath) He does one of the most amazing and wonderful and interesting things that He does as He begins His ministry. Jesus stands up to read in the synagogue, takes the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and reads, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then He rolls up the scroll, hands it back, and sits down. Everyone is staring at Him, wondering what He's going to say, and He follows up that reading with, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." That's what God's kingdom is about. It's about good news for the poor, freedom from oppression, recovery of sight, and the Lord's favor! Jesus reads this to the people and then says, "That's me! It's talking about Me!" Indeed, He is the only One who can provide all of those things for us.
Not only is Jesus the only One who can provide all of those things for us, He provides them in abundance. He came that we may have life more abundantly! (But I'm getting ahead of myself, there.) We see an example of His abundance in the next scene, where we have Jesus speaking to a crowd by the Sea of Galilee. As they began to crowd around Him, He saw a couple of boats near the shore that belonged to a fisherman by the name of Simon (Peter). He decided to get in the boat and put out a little from the shore so that He could teach the people from the boat. When He is done teaching the people, He tells Simon to go out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch. Simon mentions to Him that they've been fishing all night without catching anything, "but because you say so, I will let down the nets." (Yet another example of someone taking Him at His word.) Well, of course, this time when Simon lets down the nets, you know what happens: there is an amazing catch of fish, the nets begin to break, the boat begins to sink, and Simon has to call his partners in the other boat to help him. The partners come and the men fill both boats with fish so that BOTH boats begin to sink! My only comment on this passage is, if that's not abundance, I don't know what is!
Through the rest of today's reading, it seems the other important factor about Jesus that is highlighted is His authority. People are amazed because He teaches as one with authority...He has authority over evil spirits...He even exemplifies to the teachers of the law that He has authority to forgive sins.
From His Galilean ministry, we learn that He is here to meet the human need that only He can...that He wants to give us an abundance of what we need...and that as God-in-the-flesh, He alone has the power and authority to do so.