The sequence of Jesus beginning his ministry as presented in Matthew is the declaration of the Messiah by John: “This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah” (Mt 3:3) followed by Jesus baptism (Mt 3:13-17), and the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the desert, the holy city, and the high mountain. (Mt 4:1-11).
After the angels attended to Jesus he leaves Nazareth and goes to the “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Mt 4:18). He goes directly to the Gentiles the ones living in darkness (Mt 4:16) signaling our faith is one of obedience to Jesus. It is for all people, not based on the ancestral pedigree of the Israelites.
Jesus begins to preach “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Mt 4:17), then he immediately builds the team calling Simon and Andrew, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Mt 4:18-22) as his first disciples. He goes: “throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Mt 4:23).
We see Jesus tested then rapidly launched, thrust into ministry among the lost to teach, preach, heal and build his team. And “large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan” begin following him. All this suddenly, right after his baptism.
One line that seemingly gets lost in the midst of Jesus’ dynamic story is verse 4:12 “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison”. After his temptation, just before the rapid beginning of his ministry activities the one who baptized him is incarcerated.
There are probably many ways to receive this and each person may be affected or interpret this differently. For me it signals that following Jesus has a cost. We all know this, but are we really willing to pay it? How do you react when things don’t go well? In interactions with people, work, family, ministry?
Life is messy and it’s in the mess that the crucible of ministry is born out. That is where the rubber meets the road. Let’s default to Jesus when things don’t go our way and use him as our guide in our understanding of, and reactions to life events.