He Brought Hope and Change
HE BROUGHT HOPE AND CHANGE
About 5 years ago a young senator came on the scene and began his campaign to become president of the United States…and his message was “Hope and Change.”
- People were convinced that things were hopeless and that change was necessary.
A little over 2000 years ago Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah came on the scene and He didn’t just preach a message of “Hope and Change”…but He also brought “Hope and Change”…hope and change that was very much needed…and is still needed today.
We have read the passage but I want you to look once again at verses 12-16 because these verses give us some insight on the way things were when Jesus began His ministry.
- Jesus’ identity as David’s son who is at the same time David’s Lord has been established in chapter 1.
- From the wise men He has received the honor due to the One who is King of kings and Lord of lords; chapter 2.
- He has been declared Sovereign, and by means of His baptism has confirmed His decision to take upon Himself the sins of the world; chapter 3.
- He has proved Himself worthy as Savior for in the wilderness He has triumphed over the devil.
- Now, when we come to this chapter nothing prevents Him from carrying forward the task assigned and voluntarily assumed by Him.
In verse 12 He hears that John the Baptist has been taken into custody and really this is no surprise.
- The Jewish leaders, especially those around Jerusalem were jealous of crowds that were going out to see John…and many of them didn’t like John’s straight forwardness…and John was certain to be arrested when he confronted Herod about having his brother’s wife.
- And not only that, John had succeeded in doing what God sent Him to do…and now it was time for him to decrease and it was time for Jesus to increase; John 3:30.
- So, as disappointing as it was, it was no surprise that John had been taken into custody.
But there is something more about this verse…the fact that John had been taken into custody gives us in sight about the way things were at the time.
- It was a time when the religious leaders were corrupt and cared little about what was right.
- It was a time when what God wanted and commanded was overruled by human desires and traditions.
- It was a time when a preacher of righteousness was imprisoned as a criminal while those who were criminals were raised to positions of power and authority.
- It was a time when people needed hope and change.
So when Jesus hears of John’s arrest He withdrew into Galilee probably to prevent a pre-mature incident as a result of His increasing popularity.
- And He leaves Nazareth…and He settles in Capernaum…which was strategic for Jesus.
- Capernaum is situated on the northern end of the Sea of Galilee…and it is a long ways from Jerusalem.
- It was a fairly populated city…and it was also located on the trade route that connected Damascus with the Mediterranean Sea.
- Travel by land or by sea made access to the surrounding villages easy for Jesus to share His message with the people in the area.
- So Jesus settles in Capernaum…and now I want you to look at verses 14-16 because these verses are going to give us some more insight into the way things were.
14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles– 16 “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, And to those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a light dawned.”
- For centuries the people living in this large territory had been exposed to political and military aggression from the north (Syria and Assyria) and to the corrosive moral and religious influences of a pagan environment.
- They had been overrun and imperiled on a scale much larger than the people of Jerusalem had been…it was said of them that “They fear Jehovah, and served other gods.”
- When Isaiah says that these people “were sitting in darkness…and in the land of the shadow of death”…he was right.
- They were smothered by physical as well as spiritual oppression.
- They needed “Hope and Change” …and Jesus brought it to them…and to be more accurate what Jesus brought was “Change and Hope.”
- Look at verse 17:
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- Do you see the word “preach”?
- That word “preach” simply means “to proclaim”…to make known truth.
- So when Jesus came preaching, it was not a matter of “What do you think?”…instead it was a matter of “This is the way it is!”
If these people wanted to get out of the “darkness”…if they wanted to get out of the “shadow of death”…it they wanted to get out from under the physical and spiritual oppression…if they wanted to the decadence and moral corruption…they were going to have to “Repent!”
- From the religious leaders…to the corrupt politicians…to the immoral peddlers of human flesh…to the slanderers and thieves…
- They needed to “Change…stop living a life of sin…stop doing the things they were doing that brought about the “darkness” and turn back to God…allow the kingdom of heaven…the reign of God to dwell in their hearts.”
If your society…if your culture…if your nation…if your home…if your own life is sitting in darkness…if you want change…if you want to get out of the shadow of death…it starts with the people…it starts with self…making the change.
- And the only place where there is no darkness…no shadow of death…is in the kingdom of God.
- It is not enough to just change and try some other ungodly practice…if you want to get out of the “darkness” you must enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And people often say, “It is too hard!”
- To wrench anything out of its accustomed course often is a painful process.
- It does great violence to the existing pattern.
- Many people want change but they are unwilling to undergo the severe pain that often must precede it.
Jesus’ message though was uncompromising…the need to change was a certainty…as painful as it is if you want to get out of the “shadow of death” you must change.
And to get His message of “Change and Hope” out…Jesus calls some men to help…vs. 18:
And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him. 21 And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
- Jesus’ message of “Change and Hope” was not intended only for the men living during His ministry…it was intended for the ages.
- He would be put to death in just a little over 3 years…so it is no surprise at all that at the very beginning of His ministry that He chose men to perpetuate and continue His message…even unto today.
And to show the people that He had the power to bring them out of darkness…and out of the shadow of death…look at what Jesus does starting in verse 23:
And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel (good news) of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. 24 And the news about Him went out into all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. 25 And great multitudes followed Him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
- Jesus had enormous and sometimes baffling power…people were amazed.
- If they had the flu, He healed them…if they had leprosy…He healed them.
- If they were demon-possessed, He cast the demons out.
- If they were mentally ill, He healed their minds.
- If their bodies were damaged, He made their bodies whole again.
- Whatever held them captive….whatever held them in bondage…Jesus set them free…all to demonstrate that He could also liberate them from “darkness and the shadow of death.”
- And He still can today.
And now look at chapter 5:1-12. Speaking to the same crowds mentioned in the previous verses the passage says:
5:1 And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying,
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
When Jesus came and began His ministry it was not a time of happiness.
- Instead it was a time of darkness…of oppression…of corruption…of immorality…of uncertainty and fear.
- And the burden of these things weighed heavily on the people.
And in that setting Jesus’ message was that blessings and happiness were not far from reach.
- To the typical Hebrew, blessing and happiness seemed to be a universe away.
- To the Gentile there literally was no hope.
- But here in what we call the “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus points to change that can take place in each of them…and as a result they can know God-like joy that is lasting and no one can take it away.
The message is no different today!
- Through the Word that we possess Jesus still proclaim it today.
- “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- “Change and Hope!”
- Does our world need to “Repent…to Change?” (Is it steeped in darkness and the shadow of death?)
- Does our nation need to “Repent…to Change?”
- What about our homes and families?
- What about each of us…what about you?
- His message…His invitation to follow Him still stands.
- Any other solution that is offered out there is wholly inadequate…it will not bring you into the light.
- It is only when you “Repent, and allow the kingdom of heaven to dwell in your heart” that you can be set free.
- Is it time to submit to His gracious rule and reap the benefits of His reign?
- If it is, I hope that you will begin today.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2024