Matt 4:12-16 Jesus moves to Capernaum CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
This passage appears to be a simple prophecy concerning Jesus’ change of residence after entering his earthly ministry and following the death of John the Baptist. However, there is more to this prophecy than that.
First, there are reported to be 48 prophecies relating to the first coming of Jesus that were fulfilled when he was here. These prophecies ranged from his virgin birth in Bethlehem of the tribe of Judah and the line of David to his betrayal by Judas for 30 pieces of silver and his crucifixion between thieves. There are even prophecies of his burial, resurrection, ascension and exaltation.
The significance of these fulfilled prophecies is immense. They prove that the Bible is not just a book written by men. It is a divine book. The probability of one man fulfilling all of these prophecies in his lifetime is less than the probability that a blind man could find the only red molecule in the universe on the first try if all of the other molecules were painted white. Did you get that? A blind man could more easily find that one red molecule than one man could fulfill 48 different prophecies concerning his life. That’s staggering.
Second, this particular prophecy reveals that, although the earthly ministry of Jesus was aimed at Israel (Matt 15:24), Gentiles were ultimately going to be saved, as well. Matthew recorded that Jesus moved to “Galilee of the Gentiles,” (v. 15). Paul, when writing to the Romans, quoted several Old Testament passages dealing with the salvation of Gentiles. In Rom 15:8-12, Paul quoted Ps 18:49, Deut 32:43, Ps 117:1, and Is. 11:10, and applied each of these verses to Gentile salvation in the church age.
Third, this prophecy has a great spiritual application for us. Verse 16 says, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light.” When Jesus came to the world, he was the light of men that shined in the darkness of this world (Jn 1:4-5; Eph 6:12). Truthfully, when we came to Jesus, we came out of darkness and into his marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9) and now we are the children of light (1 Thes 5:4-5). Praise God!
Fourth, this prophecy has a great doctrinal application for Israel in the tribulation. They will literally be in the shadow of death before the second coming of Jesus. The verse that Matthew quotes is from Is. 9:1-2. The context of that prophecy is Armageddon in Is 9:4-5, the first coming of Jesus in the first part of verse 6, and the second coming of Jesus in the second part of verse 6 and all of verse 7. When Jesus comes again, he will come shining with light as bright as the sun (Mal. 4:1-2; 2 Pet 1:19) and he will show up when the world is covered in darkness (Rev. 9:2, 16:10).