Do you ever wonder what’s in the heart of God when He thinks about people, especially
you? One of the best ways to find out is to read the gospels, because in them we see what
the Lord Jesus thinks of us and feels toward us. And since Jesus is fully God, we get a direct
glimpse into the heart of God by looking at Jesus and at what He said and did.
I’m Scott Chambers, and today we’re going to have a look at some of the first things Jesus
did once He started His public ministry, as recorded by John Mark. Now Mark wasn’t an
eyewitness to the life of Christ, but he was the Apostle Peter’s attendant and writer, and
everything he wrote in his gospel he got from Peter.
About the time He recruited Simon Peter and his brother Andrew to follow Him, Jesus went
to Capernaum, and His first stop was the synagogue where He did His first public teaching.
We’re not told in this passage what He taught, but the parallel passage in Matthew 4
indicates that He called the people to repentance because “The Kingdom of God is at hand”.
And their response is interesting – it says, “And they were astonished at his teaching, for he
taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” For hundreds of years, the
nation of Israel had not had a prophet. What they got instead was the scribes, whose job it
was to make hand-written copies of the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.
From the scribes and the Pharisees, who were the religious leaders of the day, the people
got a steady diet of extra rules and regulations that were not part of the Torah. According to
this passage, their teaching lacked authority and didn’t move the people at all. In contrast,
Jesus’ teaching carried spiritual weight and had authority. Here Jesus laid the foundation for
His claim to be the long-awaited Messiah, and this got the peoples’ attention.
As He exited the synagogue that day, a demon-possessed man called out at Him, “What
have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you
are—the Holy One of God”. Demons, often referred to as unclean spirits in the NT, were
greatly feared by the people because of the power they had. But here, the demon is the one
who’s afraid, afraid of Jesus, because he knows who Jesus is, and that Jesus has the power
to destroy him. Jesus does a number on this demon and word gets out across the region of
Galilee that this Jesus of Nazareth is something special.
As this first day of public ministry goes on, Jesus begins to heal people, starting with Peter’s
and Andrew’s mother. By evening Jesus had healed and cast demons out of many others
and the text tells us that the entire city, which had a population of ~1500, had gathered
near their door! It was no doubt a long day for Jesus!
Nevertheless, the text tells us that as His time in Capernaum came to an end, He arose
early one morning and went to a desolate place to talk with His Father. Jesus was in
constant communication with His Father. This included times of extended conversation in
solitude. During these times, He received encouragement, guidance, and specific
instructions on what to do next. He was not able to stay in solitude for long this time,
because Simon Peter and the others found Him and told Him, “everyone is looking for you!”.
Having heard from His Father, He told them that it was time to leave Capernaum and go to
other towns so that He could reach the people there, for that is why He had come.
So they left Capernaum and went to the next town to teach, heal and cast out demons.
There He healed a leper and asked this person to NOT tell anyone how he had become
clean. Jesus knew He had to keep a low profile because He had three years of public
ministry left before going to the cross, and the religious leaders were going to persecute
Him. But the leper didn’t keep quiet, and Jesus’ fame spread so far that He couldn’t openly
enter any other towns.
So, what do we learn from this passage about God’s heart toward the people in Capernaum
and, by extension, to all people everywhere, including us today? We learn that He has great
compassion and a huge heart for the people He created. He cares deeply about us. He
wants to draw near to us. And He wants us to be His partners in reaching others who don’t
yet know Him. What a privilege to be forgiven of our sins, made whole in Him, and be His
ambassadors to the lost around us.
Please pray with me – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of
mercies and God of all comfort. Thank you, Father, for the glimpse into your soul we get
from this passage. The more we learn of you, the more we love you and desire that others
might come into relationship with you also. In your Son’s strong name, Amen.