The following is commentary on the Harmony of the Gospel entries about these events.
- Jesus returns to Galilee and preaches
- Jesus rejected at Nazareth
- Casting out an unclean spirit
- Peter called to catch men; his heart touched.
Jesus returns to Galilee and preaches
|17 ¶ From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.Matt. 4:17||14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.||14 ¶ And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.||43 ¶ Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.|
McConkie’s description of these verses is classic. Here, what many would consider a minor point in the text of each writer, he links them together into a great story.
- The Savior preached Matthew tells us, just like every other worker of righteousness from the days of Adam until the last prophet on the earth will do. And what is the message from every one of them? “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
- And what response should that illicit? Belief Mark tells us. Repentance requires belief. Believe in the Gospel. That Gospel which testifies that Jesus is the Son of God, and that through ordinances performed by legal administrators men may partake of his atonement, whereby he was lifted up upon the cross to suffer the pains of all men, die, and be resurrected.
- Jesus did this by the power of the Spirit Luke tells us. That power has an impact upon men. That spirit draws attention, either good or bad. Fame is the result. Those that are receptive glorify in it.
- Those that are not receptive give no honour John tells us; they reject the Son of God.
In these verses we find the key that opens the door to an understanding of all of Jesus’ teachings. In Galilee—and elsewhere and everywhere—he invited men to believe and repent; to believe in him as the Son of God and to repent of their sins; to accept the gospel that he preached and to become members of his earthly kingdom. Jesus preached the gospel; and unless and until this dawns upon us, we will not and cannot understand his ministry among men. Jesus preached the gospel—nothing more and nothing less. (Bruce R. McConkie, “The Mortal Messiah”, Vol.2, p.8)
Jesus rejected at Nazareth
“Perhaps His silence, perhaps the calm nobleness of His bearing, perhaps the dauntless innocence of His gaze overawed them. Apart from anything supernatural, there seems to have been in the presence of Jesus a spell of mystery and majesty which even His most ruthless and hardened enemies acknowledged, and before which they involuntarily bowed. It was to this that He owed His escape when the maddened Jews in the Temple took up stones to stone Him; it was this that made the bold and bigoted officers of the Sanhedrin unable to arrest Him as He taught in public during the Feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem; it was this that made the armed band of His enemies, at His mere look, fall before Him to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane. Suddenly, quietly, He asserted His freedom, waved aside His captors, and overawing them by His simple glance, passed through their midst unharmed. Similar events have occurred in history, and continue still to occur. There is something in defenseless and yet dauntless dignity that calms even the fury of a mob. `They stood—stopped—inquired—were ashamed—fled—separated.'” (Farrar, p. 175.)
Testimony of Devils
Why would the Savior not allowed the wicked spirit to bear testimony? Is testimony from one source preferable to that from another? Is there such a source that any testimony from is inappropriate? The answer must be yes.
Consider application in our own lives. What if the front page of the most popular magazines were to suddenly find our prophet “cool”, “hip” or “vogue”? What might it do to him to be praised for the way he dresses and the cute things he says? Might this begin a very subtle process to move him away from being what and who he should be?
Peter called to catch men; his heart touched
It is clear Peter, Andrew, James and John were known to the Savior from immediately after the Savior’s baptism, as John records in John 1. It seems to me there is a difference in that interaction, and this call to the ministry. At that time, when they inquired they were interested in where the Savior was staying, he responded with a gentle invitation, “Come and see.”
This was now a bold call to leave all, and follow him. The first was an invitation to be a disciple; this a call to be an Apostle.
Being an Apostle required putting down their nets. But why did he give the blessing to Peter’s mother-in-law? Was it because Peter would have worried that his family could be provided for, and he knew that?
McConkie indicates that when someone is willing to live the law of consecration, our needs and our wants are given. This story is a powerful testimony of that.
“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Wow, what a statement from the lead Apostle. Who among us could not say the same thing?