SUMMARY.--Jesus in the Wilderness. The Tempter. The Temptation to Convert Stones into Bread. The Temptation to Cast Himself from the Temple. The Offer of Worldly Power and Glory. Ministering Angels. The Galilean Ministry. Disciples Called. Preaching and Healing. The Fame of Christ.
13. Leaving Nazareth. Because rejected there ( Luke 4:16-30 ). Dwelt in Capernaum. At that time a city of 30,000 inhabitants on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was one of the chief cities of Galilee, had a synagogue, a Roman garrison, and a customs station, with Matthew as the tax gatherer. It has long since disappeared. It was called "Christ's own city" because he made it an earthly home. It was on the border between the tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali.
15. By the way of the sea. The Sea of Galilee is meant.
16. The people. Those of the region just described. Sitting in darkness. In religious ignorance. Saw great light. Christ, the Light of the world. In the teaching of Jesus in the region described by the prophet there was a remarkable fulfillment of the prediction.
17. From that time. Probably from the time of the settlement of Jesus in Capernaum. Jesus began to preach. This is the beginning of the Galilean ministry. And to say, Repent, etc. The message that Jesus now preaches is identical with that of John the Baptist. See Matt. 3:2 . He commands repentance, and declares the kingdom of heaven is at hand, not yet come, but near. All is still preparatory. Jesus had not yet declared himself as the Messiah.
18. Walking by the sea of Galilee. So named from the province of Galilee on its western side. It is about thirteen miles long and six miles wide in the widest place. The Jordan runs through it. On its borders Jesus lived, taught, and did most of his miracles. Saw two brethren. These two brethren, Peter and Andrew, were already disciples ( John 1:35 ). Simon was the name of the first until Christ changed it to Cephas, or Peter. Their home was at Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee ( John 1:44 ). They had been John's disciples, but he directed them to Jesus. They were fishers. A humble, but honorable, occupation.
19. Follow me. Already disciples, they were now called to preparation for apostleship.
20. Straightway left their nets. They obeyed at once. Thus Christ ought always to be obeyed. No excuses for delay were offered, or should ever be.
21. Saw other two brethren. James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were fishermen also, are supposed to have been cousins of Jesus, probably were already disciples ( John 1:29-42 ), but were now called to preparation for their great work. In a ship. A small fishing vessel. The Revision says, "boat," which gives the idea.
22. They left their father. At once. They had received a higher call. No earthly preference can excuse a rejection of the call of Christ.
23. Jesus went about all Galilee. In the next three verses are condensed the labors and teaching of a long period, of which a detailed account is given in the following chapters. Teaching in their synagogues. The synagogues, the Jewish houses of worship, where the Jews met every Sabbath, furnished Jesus a congregation and a suitable place for teaching. It was customary to read the Old Testament in course, and after the reading, a teacher or a rabbi, was usually called on to speak. The custom gave Jesus, and his apostles after him, a fine opportunity to declare the New Covenant.
THE SYNAGOGUE is so often named in the New Testament that one ought to clearly understand its character. It corresponded to the Christian congregation. Wherever ten Jews were found it was their duty to form a synagogue. It had its elders, of whom the president was called the "ruler" of the synagogue. The ruler presided over the worship, and all the elders sat on raised seats. These were "the chief seats" that the Pharisees liked to sit in. There was a set lesson from the Scriptures for each Sabbath, for they were read in order. The reader was appointed by the ruler and might be any member. On one occasion we learn that Jesus was the reader. After the reading and prayers there was an opportunity for any Jewish theological teacher to speak. Of this opportunity Jesus, and later, Paul often availed themselves. The service of the synagogue in our times is, in many respects, similar to that of the time of Christ. The officers of the synagogue had the power of scourging, of suspending, or of excommunicating (casting out) offenders.* Preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Gospel means "good news." He announced the good news of the speedy advent of the long expected kingdom of the Messiah. He did not, however, at this time proclaim himself to be the Messiah. Healing every sickness. He sympathized with all human affliction and healed the body in order that he might heal the soul.
24. His fame went through all Syria. The great Roman province north and east of Palestine, and, at the time of our Savior, including the latter. The cities of Damascus and Antioch were in the province. Possessed with devils. The word demon is the correct translation, and means an evil spirit. Persons were actually subject to the control of demons. Of this there is the following proof: (1) Supernatural strength ( Mark 5:4 ). (2) Mind is not the source of blindness ( Matt. 12:22 ). (3) Insanity cannot divine ( Acts 16:17 ). (4) Demons knew Jesus ( Mark 1:24 ). (5) Jesus addresses the demons ( Matt. 8:32 ). (6) Demoniacs confess this control ( Mark 5:9 ). (7) Apostles assert it ( Luke 10:17 ). (8) Jesus admitted it ( Matt. 12:28 ). (9) Peter assures use of it ( Acts 10:38 ). Lunatics. Epileptics in the Revision.
25. Great multitudes from Galilee. The fame of his teaching and miracles caused great multitudes to gather from all Palestine. Decapolis. A district containing ten cities east of the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee. Notice, in the ministry of Jesus, (1) He was active; (2) He went where people were; (3) He went where the busiest people were--fisherman, those at work, Simon and Andrew--those preparing to work, James and John; (4) He went where worshiping people were; (5) He went where needy people were.