“Now when He heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth He went and lived in Capernaum by the sea …. From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ While 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. And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 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. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him. 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.”(Matthew 4:12-13a, 17-23 ESV)
Poor Jesus! It was early in His own ministry when He got word that King Herod had cut off the head of John the Baptist. John was more than just Jesus’ cousin; He was the fore-runner God sent to get things ready for Jesus’ own work. He was a prophet, the greatest of them all according to Jesus. And now He was dead. No wonder Jesus withdrew to Galilee, out of Herod’s reach!
But He did more than that. He moved to a new headquarters, to Capernaum, at least for a while. He took disciples. And He Himself began preaching the same message as John: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Did Jesus grieve for John? Surely He did. But He also saw the signal for His own work to begin in earnest. The same death that took John would be coming for Jesus in just a few years. Jesus was getting ready.
You see, Jesus was thinking of us—of you and me, and all the people God had sent Him to rescue. Jesus had three years to preach the Good News, to teach His disciples, and to lay the foundation of the Christian church. Then—He would be arrested in the garden. He would be mocked and tortured. He would be crucified, die, and be buried. And He would rise again.
And then? Then the race would begin. Then, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ followers would run to take the Good News around the world—to people in every country and nation, to you and to me. They would be ready. Jesus made sure of it in those three years. He loves us that much.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for all the care You took to prepare Your disciples, and to make sure we could learn of You and believe. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on January 19, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. What feelings do you think went through Jesus’ mind and heart when He heard about John’s death?
2. Is there an event in your own life that touched off a change in how you lived and what you did? If you are willing, tell the story.
3. Would you trust 12 ordinary people to carry an important message around the world? Why do you think God did?