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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 4, by Kevin M. Williams

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Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him (Matthew 4:18-22).

This, to one degree, parallels our earlier investigation, of Yeshua’s ministry in Galilee and not in Jerusalem. Jesus did not go to the yeshivas (Israel’s seminaries), to the Temple, to the scribes or Torah teachers in holy Jerusalem. He did not recruit from the School of Hillel or the School of Shammai—the two leading academies of the day.

No, Jesus drafted from the school of hard knocks: he pulled from the fishermen among the outlanders, where the unclean dwelt, from the people who lived in the shadowlands.

Men and women today feel inadequate and unqualified to witness their faith to others. Statistically, many Christians do not know how to articulate what they believe. Somewhere along the line, we got it into our heads that we had to be more educated (like the Pharisees?) in order to share our faith.

Yet, the Almighty turned the world upside down with fishermen from the shadowlands. It was the common folk, who didn’t even own a copy of the Scripture, who took the Word out into all nations. To these, He entrusted the ministry. It takes willing people, not wondrous ones.

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Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people (Matthew 4:23).

Again, Jesus is teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Yet he begins his ministry in their synagogues. This process, this renewal, brought revival not only to the Galilee, but Matthew tells us that news spread throughout Syria (4:24), that people came to Him from Jerusalem (the Holy City comes to the “trash” for renewal?), from Judea and from beyond the Jordan (4:25) where non-Jews and Jews lived.

How did news of this man travel so fast?

Perhaps we might find some of our answer by gaining an understanding of how the synagogue functioned at this time. Beware: this is territory where preconceived notions might get torn down.

First, for there to be a synagogue in the first place, there had to be at least ten learned men—known in later centuries as a minyan. “Not that any ten of Israel made a synagogue; but wheresoever were ten learned men, and studious of the law.”3

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Winter 2002

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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