Matthew 4:12
When Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned, He withdrew to Galilee.
Sermons
Jesus as John's SuccessorR. Tuck Matthew 4:12
The Springing of the Great LightAlexander MaclarenMatthew 4:12
Light in DarknessW.F. Adeney Matthew 4:12-17
Light in DarknessJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 4:12-17
Call of the FishermenMarcus Dods Matthew 4:12-22
The end of John's work was the signal for the commencement of Christ's. Thus our Lord would appear to some as the successor of the Baptist. To a nearer view it seems that the completion of the preparation makes it fitting that the full advent of the kingdom should be manifested.

I. CHRIST COMES TO PEOPLE SITTING IN DARKNESS. Here is the prophet's image - a land of gloom, its inhabitants seated disconsolately and helplessly, not having enough light to arise and do their work, or any heart to bestir themselves and seek for such a light, till it suddenly.bursts upon their surprised and startled gaze.

1. What is the darkness? Primarily, ignorance. Without Christ we do not know God or ourselves, our duty or our destiny. From this ignorance comes a sense of dull bewilderment, and that sinks down to the deadness of despair. Or if there is external cheerfulness, the benighted soul shrinks into torpor and death. In this state the greater darkness of sin invades the conscience, and sits like a brooding raven hatching baleful birds of the night.

2. Who are the people? The immediate reference is to the inhabitants of Northern Palestine - those unfortunate Israelites who were the first to forsake the God of their fathers, and the first to fall under the rod of the heathen oppressor. Now we see two great classes of dark souls.

(1) The pagan nations. Here there opens before us the vast field of foreign missions - dark in spiritual ignorance, error, and superstition; dark too in sin, for "the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty" (Psalm 74:20).

(2) The heathen of Christendom. Many of these do not know the bare elements of the gospel; many more have no spiritual perception of its power and life; and multitudes live in benighted regions of moral corruption.

3. What are these people doing! They sit - that is all. They seem to be content with their condition. A strange lethargy has taken possession of them. This is partly inevitable; for they cannot illuminate their own dark souls.

II. THE ADVENT OF CHRIST IS THE DAWNING OF A GREAT LIGHT.

1. The light does not arise out of the darkness. The idea of the prophet is that the people of the dark north see the light that is rising in happy Judaea - so splendid and far-reaching is its radiance. Christ appeared as a Jew. Even to the Jews he came not as they expected, and his work drew none of its splendour from their goodness or their theology. The sun is not dependent on the candle-factory for its illuminating properties.

2. The light penetrates to the most remote regions. There is no limit to the penetrating power of light when this is not counteracted by the intervention of some opaque body. Every star radiates light through the whole universe. The light of Christ is for the darkest places of the earth. In our own day it has reached the heart of "darkest Africa;" it is penetrating the dense populations of China; it is spreading like a grey dawn over the vast empire of India; it shines in diamond points on many a remote island of the southern seas; and still, in spite of shameful darkness, it is brighter in England to-day than ever it was.

3. The light calls to repentance and heralds the kingdom of heaven. Christ took up the Baptist's message - beginning just where his forerunner had left off. The light of Christ reveals the sin of man. When we see Christ we see the door into the kingdom of heaven. Christ sheds light to bring men to repentance, and to guide them into the kingdom. - W.F.A.







The devil leaveth him.
I. Satan's departure ON THE SIDE OF CHRIST. Christ had repelled Satan in the third temptation in quite a different way from that in the previous contests (Luke 4:8). A coercive and indignant dismissal.

II. Satan also WITHDREW WILLINGLY. He had exhausted his temptations. All the varied forms of temptation are reduceable to three — pride, avarice, and sensuality. Three root-passions (1 John 2:16). So Christ tempted in all points as we are. Had Satan remained he had no more weapons to try. At the fitting moment Christ revealed His hatred of sin. This overthrow was a new experience.

III. How far this WITHDRAWAL WAS TEMPORARY. Satan returned in the Passion, but indirectly through others. He entered into Judas.

(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)

They are like languages which, though many, are divided into groups or families, and are traceable to a few primitive sources.

(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)

Thus it may prove with us as with the oyster, which stops with a precious pearl the hole in its shell which was originally a disease; as with the broken limb, which having been set, may be stronger than if it never had been broken. It may fare with us as islanders of the Southern Ocean fancy that it fares with them; counting, as they do, that the strength and valour of the warrior whom they have slain in battle passes into themselves as their rightful inheritance. The strength which lay in the temptation has shifted its seat, and passed over into the man who has overcome the temptation.

(R. C. Trench.)

In the old Roman times, there was a great Roman general to whom one of his soldiers said: "Oh! the enemy are so many. We are not half so many as the enemy! The enemy is twice as many as we are." The general said to him, "How many do you count me for?" Do you understand? There are "more with us than there are against us." Jesus is with us. How many do you count Him for?

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

1. It was complete.

2. It was not final.

3. It was the precursor of ether victories, even that of the cross.

4. He has not endured one temptation more than was necessary.

5. The propriety of the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation."

6. It was obtained through self-sacrifice.

7. It supplies an antidote to doubt and despair.

8. It was watched in heaven.

(L. H. Wiseman.)

Angels came.
1. Thoughts.

2. Friends.

3. Children.

4. Books.

5. Flowers.

1. To congratulate Christ after His victory.

2. From a disinterested love of us.

3. Because of their love for Christ.

4. To honour God.

5. To teach us the dignity of human nature when faithful in temptation.

6. Christ by this victory had formed a fresh link with the angels — they had passed through trial.

7. Human nature stands between heavenly and Satanic influences.

(W. H. Hatchings, M. A.)

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