The Early Ministry of Jesus Christ
(early ministry activities)

shared with you by
Kraig J. Rice
(doctrine of mainline Christianity)

Let's take a look at the baptism of Jesus, the testing of Jesus, His ministry in Judea, and His ministry in Galilee. Why? Because the more we know about Him the greater our respect will be for Him, and then the greater our love will grow for Him. This is one reason why it is good to read and study the bible every day.

(clicking on these links will move you down the page)
The Water Baptism of Jesus Christ The Temptation (or Testing) of Jesus Christ
A Brief Look at the Holy Trinity The Ministry of Jesus Christ in Judea
The Ministry of Jesus Christ in Galilee Why the Samaritans were hated by the Jews

The Water Baptism of Jesus Christ

Let's look at the water baptism of Jesus Christ. Why? Because He is showing us the way to follow. The Greek word for the English word "baptism" is "baptizo" which means to immerse, plunge, dip, or bury in water. The act of water baptism is an outward symbol (of water) of an inner cleansing (by blood).

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan river near Bethany. Jesus was about 30 years old when He was baptized.

John was reluctant to baptize Jesus, for he said
"I have need to be baptized by you."
John knew that Jesus was the son of God. Jesus had no need to be forgiven of sins because He was sinless. Knowing John's reluctance, Jesus told him,
"It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."
So John obeyed Jesus and baptized Him in the Jordan River.

Here is the scriptural account of Jesus' baptism in water:

"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying,
"I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" But Jesus answered him,

"Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."
Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying,
"This is My beloved Son, with whom I AM well pleased."
(Matthew 3:13-16).

The phrase "to fulfill all righteousness" simply means "to set the example." Jesus was setting an example for the rest of us to follow.

Let's take a brief look at Water Baptism:

Baptism by submersion signifies the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The believer goes under the water signifying death (as when one is placed beneath the sod in physical death). The believer comes up out of the water signifying resurrection. As Jesus was resurrected so also each of God's saved children will be resurrected to life everlasting. The scripture on this is:

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His"
(Romans 6:3-5).

Here are a few other scriptures on water baptism:

Galatians 3:26-27:
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."

Matthew 28:19-20:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

Acts 2:38-41:
"And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him." And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls."

Let's take a brief look at the Holy Trinity:

What in the world is the holy trinity?

The Trinity or godhead consists of 3 beings:
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Together, They form what most Christians call the holy trinity or holy godhead. The words "holy trinity" are not found in the bible but this doctrinal truth is taught by most churches as part of their study about God, His nature, and His character.

Does this doctrine have a biblical foundation? Yes.

Besides John the Baptist, there are 3 Individuals presented at the water baptism of Christ:

  • God the Father speaking from Heaven
  • God the Son at His water baptism
  • God the Holy Spirit descending from Heaven in the form of a dove

    When Jesus came up out of the water, God the Holy Spirit descended as a dove, and the voice of God the Father spoke from Heaven, saying:
    "This is my Beloved Son, in Whom I AM well pleased."

    These are wonderful key verses of scripture that prove the doctrine of the holy trinity.

    How can we possibly try to understand the holy trinity? Well, we each have a finite mind that is tainted by sin. How can the finite understand the infinite? When God was showing Job Who He was, He explained to Job how great He was. God asked Job questions that Job could not answer. How can the pot ever hope to describe adequately the Potter who made it? It was not necessary for Job to fully understand God for Job to trust and love God. Sometimes God hides Himself in His sovereignty. We are not always given all the answers to the questions of life. Maybe something has happened to you that you don't fully understand. Just trust the Lord that He cares for you and looks over you for your good and for His glory. That should be good enough for us. This is where walking by faith is so important.

    Can you explain how a man and a woman, who are two individuals, after they get married are one flesh? This speaks of the spiritual side of marriage and the eternal triangle (man, woman, and God). Since God is spirit, the fact of the holy trinity is much better understood when taken on faith.

    Are there any folks who disagree with this doctrine? Yes. One Christian cult hates the church and everything it stands for. They deny this doctrine and say that only Jehovah God (God the Father) is deity here. Another church group believes that Jesus spoke in such a manner that "He threw His voice by trickery" to make it sound like it came from Heaven. They deny this doctrine and say that only Jesus (God the Son) is deity here. Another group believes that Jesus is an incarnation of the Father. And there are other groups who falsely believe one thing or another in relation to this doctrine. Some folks refer to God the Holy Spirit as an "It". God the Holy Spirit is presented as an Individual, Who leads Jesus into the wilderness after He is baptized. John the Baptist called God the Holy Spirit by the masculine pronoun "He," which also shows that God the Holy Spirit is not an "It," but an Individual"
    (John 1:32).

    Following His baptism, Jesus was lead by God the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus began His ministry after these events.

    The Temptation (or Testing) of Jesus Christ

    Let's take a look at the testing of Jesus Christ by the devil. Why? Because all testing is similar. The way Satan tested Christ may be the way the he tests you and I. It will help each of us to know what Satan may throw at us. Satan did not test Christ's deity. Satan tested Christ's humanity. Satan thought that Christ's humanity (or flesh) was His weak point. Prior to this time Satan had tested humans (for thousands of years) to sin against God due to the weakness of their flesh. And, unfortunately, he had been somewhat successful with this strategy.
    "For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure (lust of the flesh), the lust for everything we see (lust of the eye), and pride in our possessions (pride of life). These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world"
    (I John 2:16).

    The bible states that Jesus Christ was tempted in all points like we are
    "This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin"
    (Hebrews 4:15).

    Most human temptations are divided into three main areas:
    1. the lust of the flesh
    2. the lust of the eye
    3. the pride of life

    Satan also used these 3 areas of temptation on Adam and Eve and he was successful. Why shouldn't he try these 3 also on Jesus? Why shouldn't he try these on you and I? Satan's strategy is to derail you and I from our relationship with God. Let's look at these temptations:

    In regards to the lust of the flesh: {my (Kraig Rice) paraphrase}

    Satan told Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil. It would be pleasurable to eat the fruit.

    Satan told Jesus to turn the stones into bread to eat. It would be pleasurable to eat the bread.

    In the first temptation Satan tempted Jesus with his true personality. Jesus used the Word of God, His dependence and faith on His Father, and He used the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat Satan. The fulness of the Holy Spirit yields power to help you overcome temptation. Satan appealed to Christ as a man. Satan used His hunger for food as a temptation: be independent- take your own initiative to satisfy your needs and wants. But it's sin to act independent of God. Christ did nothing apart from the will of His father. The physical shall not dominate is the answer that Christ gave to Satan.

    My note:
    God wants each of His children to carry a cross of self denial. If you go into a candy shop and eat everything that is there then you are going to get sick. Unbridled physical pleasure outside of God's boundaries can be fatal. For instance, adultery is called the blood sin because, many times, it leads to someone getting killed. Unbridled sex may lead one to getting AIDS, etc. Satan keeps on tempting everyone to sin.

    In regards to the lust of the eye: (my paraphrase)
    Satan told Eve: the forbidden fruit looks so delicious. It tastes as good as it looks. You want it. You have to have it. It will be good for you. Go ahead and take a little bite and see for yourself. And when you do your eyes will be opened which will also be good for you. Take a second look. It even looks better the second time, doesn't it!

    Satan told Jesus: look at all of the money, sex, power, and fame that is in the evil world system. You can have it all. Look at the glitter of sparkling diamonds and the yellow color of all of that gold. I will give it all to You if you fall down and worship me.

    In this temptation the devil was trying to get Jesus away from the pathway of perfect service. The devil is the prince of this world. Service is linked to worship. Satan thinks that every person has a price at which they can be bought. He can offer money, sex, power, and fame to get a person to serve and worship him.

    My note:
    Things don't always taste as good as they look. Some rowdy teenagers went into a restaurant one time and dumped the contents of the salt shaker into the sugar bowl. That sugar looked good and sweet. But the next customer, which happened to be me, put 3 tea spoons of it into my cup of coffee and it was ruined rather than enhanced.

    If you are a fisherman you want to use a glittery lure to attract the fish. It looks so good to the hungry fish. But the lure does not taste as good as it looks-

    What is lust? One description of lust is when a person takes the second look. There is a true and tragic story in the Bible that emphasizes my point. This story starts off this way: "David's son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her. Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible that he could ever fulfill his love for her."

    Amnon lusted after his half sister. He took the second look. After he raped her the fruit of the victory did not taste as good as it had looked. Guilt can do that. "Then suddenly Amnon's love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. "Get out of here!" he snarled at her.

    The story had a tragic ending. "So at Absalom's signal they murdered Amnon."
    (2 Samuel Chapter One).
    Temptations must be resisted like our Lord Jesus Christ showed us to do no matter how good they may appear.

    In regards to the pride of life: (my paraphrase)
    Satan told Eve: You shall be as gods. Trust in yourself without God's help. Be your own god. Be self sufficient. You don't need God. Owning deity is one's greatest possession and goal. If man cannot become God then he does the next best thing: he makes himself into a god with self worship. This was Satan's goal and he achieved self worship through his pride on his own without God's help.

    Satan told Jesus: Go ahead and throw yourself down. You won't die. A god cannot die. Trust in yourself without God's help. Be self sufficient. Only pride in Himself would have made Jesus throw Himself down. But that was Satan's sin. Instead, Jesus was humble. Jesus did not trust in Himself to do His own will but His father's will. Christ is God but He didn't have to prove it to Satan for this test.

    In this temptation Satan tried to undermine Christ's trust and confidence in God. The high pinnacle shows pride. Each of us should beware of pride that would lead us down the wrong pathway. To test God in this manner would be to show a lack of trust in God. Trust abides in confidence.

    My note:
    We should always recognize our dependence on God. We should strive to be like Him but not to replace Him.

    Because Jesus was a victor over the 3 temptations, we know that God understands our human dilemma- that we cannot successfully combat the evil temptations of Satan with the weakness of our flesh- for that we need His inner strength working through us.

    Jesus had to experienced these three temptations prior to entering His public ministry. And now He is able to sympathize with us and help us when we come to Him in prayer and supplication- seeking His strength for deliverance from all kinds of temptation(s).

    Let's look a little deeper at the testing of Christ.

    "And immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him"
    (Mark 1:12-13).

    Following the baptism of Christ, Mark indicated that the Spirit "immediately" led Jesus into the wilderness. The word "wilderness" refers to a general area of Israel that is bare and desolate of much vegetation and people.

    Was it unusual for folks to fast for 40 days like Jesus did? I think so, but Moses and Elijah fasted for that length of time before receiving their divine revelations from God:

    So he (Moses) was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He (God) wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments
    (Exodus 34:28).

    So he (Elijah) arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God
    (1st Kings 19:8).

    Let's take a look with a little more depth at these 3 tests-

    "And after He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread"
    (Matthew 4:2-3).

    In the first temptation Satan tried to place doubt in the mind of Jesus with the words "If you are the Son of God." The danger of this temptation was not in making bread. Jesus was not under a prohibition from miraculously creating food. Later, on two occasions Jesus used His divine power to create bread for the feeding of the 5,000 and also for the feeding of the 4,000
    (you can find these events at Mark 6:35-44 and Mark 8:1-21). The real peril lay in Satan's hidden motive for Christ creating the bread. That reason being "If you are the Son of God." The problem here is that Satan believes that he is god. There can not be two gods. One has to be an imposter. But if there are two gods, then which one has the most power? So now we have a major power struggle. If Christ is really God, then let Him prove it with a simple miracle that will also benefit Himself. It is nearly the same accusation that the demon possessed hurled at Jesus while He was dying on the cross "If You are the Son of God, prove it by coming down from that cross." Jesus was and is God. He didn't have to prove anything to Satan or to Satan's followers- who would never acknowledge the fact that Christ is divine- just like they won't do to this very day.

    How did Jesus respond? He simply quoted Moses:

    "But He answered and said,
    "It is written, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God"
    (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4). Jesus did not respond to the fact that He is God, but only responded to the question about the bread. Man is not to satisfy himself physically with the bread that perishes only but with the everlasting bread of the gospel that proceeds from the mouth of God. This bread of the gospel is the most important as it leads folks to repentance and eternal life.

    "Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: "He shall give His angels charge over you," and, "in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone"
    (Matthew 4:5-6).

    In the second temptation of Jesus, Satan challenged Jesus to throw Himself down from God's temple. Would this be an act of suicide or a leap of faith? If Christ were really God, then He would know the difference and stake His life on His decision. To deceive Christ, Satan misquoted scripture from
    Psalm 91:11-12. When taken out of context, this passage of scripture seems reasonable enough to follow. How many cults and false religions have taken scripture out of context and told their followers to stake their eternal destiny on their false claims? This was a simple test: would Christ commit suicide based upon the Word of God or not? Jesus did not try to convince Satan that He was God, and Christ did not argue with Satan. Christ simply said "no" by giving this answer:

    "On the other hand it is written, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test"
    (Deuteronomy 6:16, Matthew 4:7).

    "Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me"
    (Matthew 4:8-9, Luke 4:5).

    In the third temptation Satan offered Jesus what he has offered to many others: money, sex, power, and fame. But the price is that you have to give your eternal soul to Satan and worship him with your disobedience against God and His church. Judas Iscariot followed this pathway and you can read in the bible what happened to him. Satan's plan is to use a person and then destroy them.

    Satan is the Prince of the Power of the Air. He is the god of this world and the ruler over the evil world system. This system is in opposition to the church and is anti-Christ in it's impact. Christ would never bow the knee to Satan as Christ came to destroy the works of the enemy. None of us should ever bow the knee to Satan, either. If you love the Lord, you are a member of the church universal and a soldier of the cross. Your job is to take souls away from Satan and promote God's kingdom here on this earth. Onward Christian soldiers! But there is a continual battle to be fought against Satan and his imps because we are in enemy territory. It is as if we are behind enemy lines in the fight of our lives.

    So was Jesus rude, crude, or socially unacceptable to Satan? No. Jesus simply replied
    "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve"
    (Deuteronomy 6:13, Matthew 4:10).

    Jesus would not violate one of His own 10 commandments:
    "You shall have no other gods before Me"
    (Exodus 20:3).

    Jesus was tempted by Satan, and was in fact tempted in all the main ways that we are tempted today. Yet He did not sin. One reason Jesus is our perfect high priest is because He can sympathize with us. He knows how it felt to be tempted, and He can give us the strength today to overcome the temptations that come to us.

    "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin"
    (Hebrews 4:15).

    Here is the story of Christ's testing in different words that may be a little easier to understand.

    "Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, to be tempted there by Satan. For forty days and forty nights He ate nothing and became very hungry.

    Then Satan tempted Him to get food by changing stones into loaves of bread. "It will prove you are the Son of God," he said. (lust of the flesh) But Jesus told him, "No! For the Scriptures tell us that bread won't feed men's souls: obedience to every word of God is what we need."

    Then Satan took Him to Jerusalem to the roof of the Temple. "Jump off," he said, "and prove you are the Son of God; for the Scriptures declare, "God will send His angels to keep you from harm" . . . they will prevent you from smashing on the rocks below." (pride of life) Jesus retorted, "It also says not to put the Lord your God to a foolish test!"

    Next Satan took Him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed Him the nations of the world and all their glory. "I'll give it all to you," he said, "if you will only kneel and worship me." (lust of the eye) "Get out of here, Satan," Jesus told him. "The Scriptures say, "Worship only the Lord God. Obey only Him." Then Satan went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus"
    (Matthew 4:1-11).

    "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it"
    (1 Corinthians 10:13).

    "And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, "God is tempting me." God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else either. Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death"
    (James 1:13-15). (NLT)

    "That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to Him and never stop trusting Him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same temptations we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it"
    (Hebrews 4:14-16).

    Roman map of Judea

    The Ministry of Jesus Christ in Judea

    Let's take a brief look at the ministry of Christ in Judea. Why? It is important to know where He went and what He did in the southern part of the nation of Israel. We can know a lot about Him this way.

    Jesus' public ministry started after the imprisonment of John the Baptist, and lasted for a little over three years. He was baptized in the Jordan River and tested by Satan in the wilderness of Judea.

    Later, in spite of growing opposition to Him in Jerusalem, Jesus' popularity increased, especially among social outcasts and the oppressed. Eventually, the enthusiasm of His followers led them to make an attempt to take Him by force, to make Him king, but this event was out of God's timing
    (John 6:15). Jesus, however, frustrated their attempts to make Him their king at that time and withdrew with His disciples by ship over the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) to Capernaum, His headquarters
    (John 6:15-21). In Capernaum, He preached that He was the Bread of Life. This should not confuse us for when we invite Him to come and live inside of our hearts we spiritually consume Him.

    Jesus went many places in the southern province of Judea and He visited the province of Galilee. He visited Bethany
    (Mark 11:11-12) and Ephraim (John 11:54), two villages near Jerusalem. Jesus spent most of His time in Galilee, but the Apostle John centers Jesus' public ministry in the province of Judea, informing us that Jesus made numerous visits to Jerusalem. According to the Apostle John, He performed many miracles at this time- particularly the raising of Lazarus from the dead in Bethany
    (John 11:1-44) and many people believed in Him as their Messiah (John 11:45).

    Here is a brief outline of His ministry in the south:

             a. His ministry in Judea- Matthew 20:17-34
                1) He predicted His death and resurrection- 
                   Matthew 20:17-19
                2) The ambitious request of the Apostles James and John- 
                   Matthew 20:20-28
                3) The healing of two blind men- Matthew 20:29-34
             b. His ministry in the city of Jerusalem- Matthew 21:1-25:46
                1) His triumphal entry- Matthew 21:1-11
                2) His cleansing of the Jewish Temple- Matthew 21:12-17
                3) His cursing of the barren fig tree- Matthew 21:18-22
                4) The much questioning of Jesus' authority and His answers- 
                   Matthew 21:23-22:14
                5) The questioning of Jesus by different groups- 
                   Matthew 22:15-46
                6) Jesus' public denouncement of the Pharisees- 
                   Matthew 23:1-39
                7) The Mount Olivet Discourse- Matthew 24:1-25:46

    The Ministry of Jesus Christ in Galilee

    Let's take a brief look at the ministry of Christ in Galilee. Why? It is important to know where He went and what He did in the northern part of the nation of Israel. We can know a lot about Him this way.

    The region of Galilee was called "Galilee of the Gentiles" at the time of Jesus. How did it get that name and why did the Jews of the south hate the Samaritans who lived there? In order to answer those questions we have to go back in history. The bible book of
    2 Kings Chapter 17 gives us the answers:

    "In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel who were before him. Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money. And the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, for they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them,
    "You shall not do this thing."
    Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying,
    "Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets."
    Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day. Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities. And it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, "The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land." Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, "Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the God of the land." Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt. The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. So they feared the Lord, and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods- according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away. To this day they continue practicing the former rituals; they do not fear the Lord, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances, or the law and commandment which the Lord had commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel, with whom the Lord had made a covenant and charged them, saying:
    "You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them; but the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, Him you shall worship, and to Him you shall offer sacrifice. And the statutes, the ordinances, the law, and the commandment which He wrote for you, you shall be careful to observe forever; you shall not fear other gods. And the covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget, nor shall you fear other gods. But the Lord your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies."
    However they did not obey, but they followed their former rituals. So these nations feared the Lord, yet served their carved images; also their children and their children's children have continued doing as their fathers did, even to this day."

    The Assyrian army hauled off the 10 northern tribes of Israel as slaves and brought in gentiles (non Jews) to replace them with. That is why this region was known as "Galilee of the Gentiles." The Jews were prejudiced against non Jews and referred to them as "dogs." This was bad enough but when the Samaritans decided to worship God and idols at the same time, this made them despised by the Jews. One cannot worship God and Satan at the same time so I think you can see what the problem was. Jesus gave the story of the despised Samaritan in
    Luke 10:33.

    Israel and the Samaritans hated each other ever since this deportation and re-settlement took place. So, most of Jews from Judea in the days of Jesus would not travel north through the country belonging to the Samaritans. Instead, they would travel around this area.

    Nazareth was a predominant city in Galilee at the time of Jesus and there was an old saying among the Jews: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

    Some of the Jewish leaders did not know that Jesus was originally from Bethlehem of Judea. For the Jews of Judea to think that their Messiah came from the despised Samaritans of the north was a preposterous idea. They would instantly reject such an individual, yet Jesus was called: Jesus of Nazareth.

    Then Jesus decided to set up His headquarters in Capernaum of Galilee. Capernaum had a military garrison and a tax-collector�s office, where Matthew as a tax collector, did his business
    (Matthew 9:1, 9), but it was a spiritually hard town. Matthew wanted the readers of his gospel to know that Jesus� move to Galilee was no mistake; it was, in fact, the fulfillment of prophecy- another proof that Jesus was their promised Messiah:

    "Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will soon be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light- a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow"
    (Isaiah 9:1-2).

    Capernaum was a spiritually hard town that refused to repent. Consequently, Jesus made this statement:
    "And you people of Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today. I assure you, Sodom will be better off on the judgment day than you!"
    (Matthew 11:23-24).

    Only a few miracles were done in Capernaum due to their unbelief. However, there was the healing of the centurion�s servant
    (Matthew 8:5-13), the healing of Simon Peter's mother-in-law
    (Matthew 8:14-17), the casting out of a demon
    (Mark 1:23-28), and the healing of the paralyzed man who was lowered down through the roof
    (Mark 2:1-12).

    "Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease and sickness among the people. So a report about Him spread throughout Syria. People brought to Him all who suffered with various illnesses and afflictions, epileptics, paralytics, and those possessed by demons, and He healed them. And large crowds followed Him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan River"
    (Matthew 4:23-24).

    Where did Jesus first start His ministry? Jesus returned to Galilee, after His baptism and testing in the wilderness, and then visited His home in Nazareth
    (Luke 4:16-30). Many in Nazareth rejected Him, so He moved to Capernaum and began teaching there also. Jesus called His first disciples about this time.

    Here is a brief outline of some of His ministry activities in the north:

    The ministry of Jesus Christ- Matthew 4:12-25:46
             a. His early ministry in Galilee- Matthew 4:12-18:35
                1) His residence at Capernaum- Matthew 4:12-17
                2) The call of four of His disciples- Matthew 4:18-22
                3) A general survey of His Galilean ministry- 
                   Matthew 4:23-25
                4) The Sermon on the Mount- Matthew 5:1-7:29
                5) Ten miracles and related events- Matthew 8:1-9:38
                6) The mission of the twelve apostles- Matthew 10:1-42
                7) Christ's answer to John the Baptist, and it's 
                   related discourse- Matthew 11:1-30
                8) Some opposition from the Pharisees- Matthew 12:1-50
                9) A series of parables on the kingdom- Matthew 13:1-58
               10) The withdrawal of Jesus after John the 
                   Baptist's martyrdom- Matthew 14:1-36
               11) A conflict with the Pharisees over tradition- 
                   Matthew 15:1-20
               12) His withdrawal to Phoenecia and the healing of a gentile
                   woman's daughter- Matthew 15:21-28
               13) His return to the Sea of Galilee and His  
                   performing of miracles- Matthew 15:29-38
               14) The renewed conflict with the Pharisees and Sadducees- 
                   Matthew 15:39-16:4
               15) His withdrawal to the region of Caesarea Philippi- 
                   Matthew 16:5-17:23
               16) His instruction of the twelve apostles at Capernaum- 
                   Matthew 17:24-18:35
            b. His ministry in Perea- Matthew 19:1-20:16
               1) His teaching on divorce- Matthew 19:1-12
               2) His blessing of the children- Matthew 19:13-15
               3) His interview with the rich young man- Matthew 19:16-30
               4) His parable of the laborers in the vineyard- 
                  Matthew 20:1-16

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