The inauguration of Jesus’ earthly ministry began with His baptism by John in the Jordan “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). In so doing, Jesus endorsed John’s ministry and message, linking His ministry with His older cousin’s and ended it. Immediately thereafter He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan following a 40-day preparatory fast (4:1-11).
After His victorious encounter with Satan in the wilderness and upon hearing of John’s arrest and imprisonment by Herod Antipas, Jesus relocated to Capernaum from Nazareth. Thus Capernaum, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, became the headquarters of His (3-year) earthly ministry where He took up the baton of ushering in the kingdom of God. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) give little accounting of His first (obscure) year in ministry, focusing instead on His 2nd year of popularity and His 3rd year of increased rejection. However, Mathew does record that Jesus’ move to Capernaum was again to fulfill prophecy (v.14).
Matthew’s quote (vv.15-16) from Isaiah 9:1-2 refer to Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria. He annexed much of Israel’s northern and eastern territory, to include Zebulun and Naphtali, during his campaigns of 733–732 b.c. (cf. 2Kings 15:29). A major portion of his imperial policy was to deport a significant percentage of Israel’s population. This was designed to increase the Assyrian labor force and reduce the possibility of further opposition among subjugated peoples. Thus, the regions that suffered under Assyrian domination were the first to see the great light of God’s deliverance in Jesus.
While Satan was not successful in his attempt to deceive and overthrow Jesus in His earthly ministry (3:15), he continues to annex major portions of God’s kingdom. His policy has not changed, Satan desires to increase his demonic labor force and reduce the possibility of further opposition among subjugated peoples. But Jesus continues to dispel the darkness of Satan’s deception by the light He has given to His disciples (5:14).
Jesus completed the work of redemptions at Calvary and passed the baton of reconciliation to us at Pentecost. Satan continues his attempts to subjugate God’s labor force but, like Jesus, we too are empowered through fasting and prayer. Through our ministry the people dwelling in darkness continue to see a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them His light dawns through our witness. As other see the light of our good works they will glorify our Heavenly Father and the influence of His Kingdom spreads. Therefore, the ministry Jesus now endorses and links with us is that of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). This is how His children fulfill all righteousness.
How are you dispelling the darkness of Satan’s imperial policy?