The Gospel Lectionary LogoThird Sunday after the Epiphany (A)

This week’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 4:12-23 which is found within four sections, but spans 11 sections in phases 2 & 3 in the Harmony of the Gospels1. In our study we’ll have to revisit our Chronology, see how Matthew2 sheds light on an old prophecy and why this region was such fertile ground for the Good News, as well as examine the the recesses of our own hearts and the lands to which we’ve been called to serve.


The Collect:
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Parsing the Collect, by Fr. Rob Eaton, Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Hemet, CA


Section 34 | Jesus’ Departure from Judea

Luke 3:19-20
19 but Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done, 20 added this also to them all, that he shut up John in prison.

Matthew 4:12
12 Now when Jesus heard that John was delivered up,3

 

 

he withdrew into Galilee.4¯5¯6

Mark 1:14a
14a Now after John was taken into custody,

 

 

Jesus came into Galilee,

Luke 4:14a

 

 

 

14a Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee,

John 4:3
1 Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John – 2 (although Jesus himself didn’t baptize, but his disciples), 3 he left Judea, and departed into Galilee. 4 He needed to pass through Samaria.

Section 35a | Discussion with a Samaritan Woman

John 4:5-26
5 So he came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being tired from his journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 The Samaritan woman therefore said to him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. So where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father, Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his children and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I don’t get thirsty, neither come all the way here to draw.” 16 Jesus said to her,“Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her,“You said well, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands; and he whom you now have is not your husband. This you have said truly.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. 22 You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah comes, he who is called Christ. When he has come, he will declare to us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who speaks to you.”

Section 35b | Challenge of a Spiritual Harvest

John 4:27-38
27 At this, his disciples came, They marveled that he was speaking with a woman; yet no one said, “What are you looking for?” or, “Why do you speak with her?” 28 So the woman left her water pot, went away into the city, and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything that I did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to him. 31 In the meanwhile, the disciples urged him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” 33 The disciples therefore said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Don’t you say, ‘There are yet four months until the harvest?’ Behold, I tell you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, that they are white for harvest already. 36 He who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit to eternal life; that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you haven’t labored. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

Section 35c | Evangelization of Sychar

John 4:39-42
39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the word of the woman, who testified, “He told me everything that I did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of your speaking; for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

Section 36 | Arrival in Galilee

John 4:43-45
43 After the two days he went out from there and went into Galilee. 44 For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did in Jerusalem at the feast, for they also went to the feast.

Section 37 | Nature of the Galilean Ministry

Mathew 4:17
17 From that time,7 Jesus began to preach,8 and to say, “Repent!9 For the Kingdom10 of Heaven is at hand.”
Mark 1:14b-15
14b preaching the Good News of God’s Kingdom, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and God’s Kingdom is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Good News.”
Luke 4:14b-15

 

 

14b and news about him spread through all the surrounding area. 15 He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

Section 38 | Child at Capernaum Healed by Jesus while at Cana

John 4:46-54
46 Jesus came therefore again to Cana of Galilee, where he made the water into wine. There was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to him, and begged him that he would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will in no way believe.” 49 The nobleman said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 As he was now going down, his servants met him and reported, saying “Your child lives!” 52 So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. They said therefore to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour, the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” He believed, as did his whole house. 54 This is again the second sign that Jesus did, having come out of Judea into Galilee.

Section 39 | Ministry and Rejection at Nazareth

Luke 4:16-31a
16 He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. and He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, 19 and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began to tell them, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 All testified about him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, and they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” 23 He said to them, “Doubtless you will tell me this parable, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done at Capernaum, do also here in your hometown.’ ” 24 He said, “Most certainly I tell you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But truly I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land. 26 Elijah was sent to none of them, except to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 There were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed, except Naaman, the Syrian.” 28 They were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things. 29 They rose up, threw him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill that their city was built on, that they might throw him off the cliff. 30 But he, passing through the middle of them, went his way. 31 He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee.
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Section 40 | Move to Capernaum

Matthew 4:13-16
13 Leaving Nazareth, he came and lived in Capernaum,11 which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,12 14 that it might be fulfilled13 which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying,
15 “The land of Zebulun14 and the land of Naphtali,
toward the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles,
16 the people who sat in darkness15 saw a great light,
to those who sat in the region and shadow of death,16
to them light has dawned.”17

Section 41 | Call of the Four

Matthew 4:18-22
18 Walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers: Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men.”18 20 They immediately left their nets and followed him.19 21 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. He called them.20  22 They immediately left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Mark 1:16-20
16 Passing along by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you into fishers for men.”21 18 Immediately they left their nets, and followed him.22 19 Going on a little further from there, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them, and they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him.

Luke 5:1-11
1 Now while the multitude pressed on him and heard the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats standing by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered him, “Master, we worked all night, and took nothing; but at your word I will let down the net.” 6 When they had done this, they caught a great multitude of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 They beckoned to their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. They came, and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.” 9 For he was amazed, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish which they had caught; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people alive.” 11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything, and followed him.

Section 42 | Teaching in the Synagogue of Capernaum Authenticated by Healing a Demoniac

Mark 1:21-28
21 They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue23 and taught. 22 They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, 24 saying, “Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus, you Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!” 25 Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 The unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching? For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him!” 28 The report of him went out immediately everywhere into all the region of Galilee and its surrounding area.
Luke 4:31b-37
31b He was teaching them on the Sabbath day, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, “Ah! what have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!”

35 Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down in the middle of them, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 Amazement came on all, and they spoke together, one with another, saying, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 News about him went out into every place of the surrounding region.

Section 43 | Peter’s Mother-in-law and others Healed

Matthew 8:14-17

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever.

15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her. She got up and served him.

16 When evening came, they brought to him many possessed with demons. He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick; 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, “He took our infirmities, and bore our diseases.”

Mark 1:29-34
29 Immediately, when they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 He came and took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them. 32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to him all who were sick, and those who were possessed by demons. 33 All the city was gathered together at the door. 34 He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. He didn’t allow the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Luke 4:38-41
38 He rose up from the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a great fever, and they begged him for her. 39 He stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her. Immediately she rose up and served them.

40 When the sun was setting, all those who had any sick with various diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. 41 Demons also came out of many, crying out, and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Rebuking them, he didn’t allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

Section 44 | Tour of Galilee with Simon and Others

Matthew 4:23-25

 

 

 

 

23 Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness among the people. 24 The report about him went out into all Syria. They brought to him all who were sick, afflicted with various diseases and torments, possessed with demons, epileptics, and paralytics; and he healed them. 25 Great multitudes from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

Mark 1:35-39
35 Early in the morning, while it was still dark, he rose up and went out, and departed into a deserted place, and prayed there. 36 Simon and those who were with him followed after him; 37 and they found him, and told him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 He said to them, “Let’s go elsewhere into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because I came out for this reason.” 39 He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons.
Luke 4:42-44
42 When it was day, he departed and went into an uninhabited place, and the multitudes looked for him, and came to him, and held on to him, so that he wouldn’t go away from them. 43 But he said to them, “I must preach the good news of God’s Kingdom to the other cities also. For this reason I have been sent.”

 

44 He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.


RCL Readings: Isaiah 9:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23; Psalm 27:1, 5-13


Group Dialog:

  1. What hope do you find in Jesus’ choice to begin his ministry in Galilee?
  2. What do you How is your nation or region like Naphtali?
  3. Discuss the importance of repentance and believing the Good News.
  4. Read the other Lectionary readings and discuss how they reflect a similar message to today’s Gospel reading.
  5. In what ways do the prophesies Jesus fulfilled give you confidence and hope?
  6. Who have been the anointed teachers who have really influenced your life?
  7. Being a disciple is much more than being a student, and following religious traditions and disciplines. Each of us has to make a decision to intentionally follow Christ in our lives. when did you first make that choice? What recent choices have you made to remain His disciple?
  8. To what ‘fertile ground’ and people are you being called? How equipped are you to face rejection, trials, and temptations?

Study Notes:

  1. Click the toggle to read the text within the sections that fall between the lines of today’s reading. Click the underlined Section title of each to review the notes and podcast of each section.
  2. Matthew (Levi) was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples (Matthew 9:9; Luke 5:27). Other than the Gospel itself Irenaeus (c. 180-199 AD) wrote: “Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect” (Against Heresies 3.1.1). While the Mark’s Gospel provides a solid Chronology and understanding of the authority of Christ, Matthew wrote with vivid stories, poetry, and in thematic blocks – a typical Hebraic structure to aid in instruction and memorization. Learn more about the Gospels and the Good News.
  3. As we see in the Harmony, “delivered up” refers to the imprisonment of John which ended his ministry. It’s an unfortunate turn of events brought about by his bold affirmations of Jewish law, which eventually resulted in his execution. Gladly he fulfilled his vocation as the forerunner and troubadour of the Messiah (Jn 3.30; Mt 9:14).
  4. The Journey from the region of Judea to Galilee is about a 100 mile journey. See the Harmony Bible Map.
  5. The name Galilee is a derivative of the Greek name Galilaia (Γαλιλαια), a Hellenized version of the Hebrew name Galil (גליל) or Galilah (גלילה, 2 Kings 15:29). Read more. In Jesus’ day, it was the most fertile region of all of Israel and was widely populated. As the region was historically inclusive of so many different cultures.Galileans were known to be a people who were open to new ideas. Among the devout Jewish it was the region which gave birth to what we now call “discipleship” –  Rabbi and Talmidim, the disciple who is consumed with being like the rabbi.
  6. We see in the Harmony of the Gospels that the path he took led him through Samaria where he spent two days ministering to hungry souls and teaching his disciples. Neither Matthew nor the other Gospel writers say why Jesus withdrew to Galilee. While in Matthew it reads as though Jesus left Judea to escape rising Roman persecution incited by their fear of John and his disciples creating an uprising, its much more likely, as Luke attests, that he was inspired and filled with the Spirit to begin disciple-making ministry and carry out his public ministry back in the region where he was raised and had received his own early schooling. Did he know that in doing so he would fulfill a prophesy? Probably so – but for skeptics who say that Jesus then tried to fulfill the prophesies to appear to be the messiah – the odds are impossible, let alone those that were out of his control such as where and when he would be born.
  7. It might be confusing, the fact that you are seeing here vs 17 before vs 13-16, if you’re new to the chronology within the Harmony of the Gospels. Here’s a prime example of how in his own writing Matthew did not write chronologically but thematically in a topical narrative. His goal wasn’t to encourage wrote memorization of the chronology of Jesus life but to help his Hebrew readers become disciples of Jesus too. Please take a look at the Harmony Bible Index to see a table of how readings from each Gospel correspond and form a clear chronology.
  8. The word here (Greek – kēryssō) means to proclaim with a gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed.
  9. Jesus most certainly calls us toward repentance just as had John the Baptist (Mt 3:2). The very action begins by one’s submission to the authority of God and the truth of God’s Word convicting hearts as they hear the Spirit’s whisper and prodding from the Lord’s rod and staff.
  10. The Kingdom most certainly requires a King. The Hebrews to whom Matthew wrote, were very familiar with the idea (Psalm 18, 93, 96, 97, 99, 145:10-13; Wisdom 3.5-8; Isa 52:7) and having endured over 300 years of occupation and turmoil they were ready to welcome in a new era and a King of their own rather than the Roman authorities. But the message that Jesus begins to proclaim and his first deeds will puzzle John (Mt 11.2-6) whose peers in the Qumran had interpreted scriptures (Ps 17,18; Isa 11) and hoped that the future King would display his authority with military strength – read Geze Vermes, Jesus the Jew, pg 130-131). Meanwhile, Jesus began his ministry with great authority demonstrated by his healing, forgiveness, inclusion, teaching, mercy and love – fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah 35.5-6 and 61.1-2.
  11. Jesus had been to Capernaum at least once before (Section 30), and he had been in Cana for both the wedding (Section 29) and had just come from there (Section 38, above). As it is noted here (Section 39 – above) he just left Nazareth where he grew up (Sections 16, 17, 19, 20), because after reading from the scroll of Isaiah there in the temple the clergy and the people rejected his message and ministry and from this moment on Jesus makes his home and base camp in Capernaum, the village of consolation. The journey from Nazareth to Capernaum takes about 10 hours, 2 days. See the Harmony Bible Map. His ministry in the region of Galilee (sections 37 to 95) took place over a period of about year (Summer of 28-Summer of 29).
  12. Zebulun and Naphtali were two of Jacob’s 12 sons (see Gen. 35:23-26). Their descendants were ultimately the settlers in the region that was northeast of Israel (Joshua 19:10-16). Naphtali was chosen to be among those who warned Israel of abandoning their faith and practices (Dt 27:15–26). In King David’s time the tribe of Naphtali served the kingdom well providing 1,000 officers, 37,000 warriors, and food (1 Chron 12:34, 40) and artisans sho specialized in bronze work (1 Kings 7:13–47). However, as as time passed, his decedents were two of the 10 tribes of Israel who abandoned their faith in God alone and began embracing the philosophies and religious practices of the Canaanites, the invading nations and eventually the Assyrians.  Among the Jews in Judea, Galilee was seen as a place of dishonor, full of Gentile pagans (Jn 1:46; 7:52) and Nazareth, Capernaum, and the whole of Galilee is where Jesus chose to begin His ministry – a light not only for the Jews but the godless, and pagans alike.  CR. Gen 30:6, 20b; Judges 1:33; Judges 4, 6, 7; Isa 9:1-2; 53:3; 2Kings 15:29.  It is with this backdrop that we see how great a light Jesus was to the people there and for people like them throughout all ages.
  13. Referring to Isa 9:1-2 which Matthew provided us in his text (vs 15-16) but also Isa 2:19. Read: Messianic Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.
  14. Nazareth was in the tribe of Zebulun
  15. Isaiah referred to these regions as “a place of darkness” as in his time many pagans had settled there and few Jews maintained their Hebraic faith and traditions. The growing ignorance of God and his truth darkened their souls, but as the prophesy foretold – the coming of the Messiah would change all that. Most likely, Matthew greatly identified with the phrase, having served as a tax collector, sitting at the city gates in service of the Roman authorities at the expense of his own people, feeling like a social outcast without hope or redemption – read Sections 47a,b. Many suspect Matthew himself was a chief evangelist in bringing others like him to Jesus.
  16. The phrase echoes Psalm 23:4; Job 3:5).
  17. Jesus comes to them and specifically calls them to make a conscious decision to change their way of living and become his disciples. This is a very special invitation from a rabbi, and a significant choice on the part of the talmidim (Listen to this audio message from Ray Vanderlaan about being a disciple).
  18. We read of the Jesus’ first followers, Andrew and John, back in Section 28. Now they are joined by Peter, Andrew, James and John.
  19. The calling of his first disciples here, is followed by the appointing of the 12 (Section 53), commissioning of the 12 Apostles (Section 70b), the Great Commission (Section 181) and final blessing (Section 184) before receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-47).
  20. Each of them became just that, both as they journeyed with Christ and after his ascension.
  21. This is the behavior of a true disciple in that day – a dedication to learn and become just like their rabbi. Even today, being a disciple takes much more than attendance at church and spiritual disciplines. While it may or may not begin with such ‘holy habits’ the lifestyle of a disciple is completely surrendered, considering nothing greater than to do the will of Jesus (the rabbi); nothing more sweet than to spend time with Jesus; nothing more true that His Word. We must be completely transformed, reshape our world view and priorities if we are to be his disciples and servants today.
  22. Jesus in the Synagogues and Temple.