12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: 15 “THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES – 16 “THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The prophecy that Matthew is referring to comes from Isaiah 9, where we generally read a snippet around Christmas about the coming of the Christ. Let’s read the whole thing together so that we can see what Matthew is referring to:
1 But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. 2 The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. 3 You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. 5 For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. 6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
One question you may be wondering is, “Did Jesus fulfill this part of the prophecy because He knew what it was?” Jesus was very learned in the scriptures. As we discussed before, He was lead by the Spirit. So, His going to that area could have been a result of knowing the scriptures and when the time was right, the Spirit led Him to go to that area. In fulfilling what the scriptures tell us, we are still following the Spirit because they are Spirit inspired. Even though Jesus travelled a lot, we see in the scriptures that He spent a lot of time in Galilee and Capernaum. This is where Jesus started His outreach to the lost people of Israel (and eventually the rest of the world). Let us take note, however, the process Jesus went through to get here as well as how He started.
Aside from the entire prophetic fulfillment in accordance with His birth and maturity, we see a pattern that we must all follow when it comes to fulfilling the purpose God has created us for. Once it was time, Jesus presented Himself to God as a sacrifice, symbolically dying to Himself in baptism and as a result being filled with and baptized in the Spirit. Then He was led by this same Spirit to fast and be tempted, in order to solidify His relationship with God as a preparation step for His ministry. Then, He kicked off His ministry by declaring the presence of God’s Kingdom in Him. We are called to this same 3-step process as followers of Christ. Usually, however, our training period lasts longer than 40 days because we don’t fully trust in God, we wrestle with our own transformation as sons of God and therefore it might take us 40 years to get to that point.
This isn’t to say that when we begin our Godly purpose here on earth that there isn’t more to go through in regards to our trusting in Him. We will see through Matthew that Jesus was constantly working on His relationship with the Father, but like any soldier, we too must go through a sort of training process in order to prepare for the spiritual battle that lies ahead. Jesus is now preparing to select His core group of soldiers and then give basic instruction on the Kingdom of God. Are you ready?