Read Matthew 4.
Frank Sinatra’s famous song, “New York, New York,” contains the lyrics, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” If success in someone’s line of work requires finding a really big audience, then that line of lyrics is true. Get famous and successful in New York (or Hollywood) and you’ll be famous and successful anywhere else on earth because New York and LA are trend setters for the rest of the nation and for most of the world.
Here in Matthew 4:12, Jesus began the public phase of his life and ministry. He had been living in Nazareth, a small town southwest of the Sea of Galilee, where his mother, Mary, and Joseph were from (Lu 2:4). When he heard that John the Baptist was put into prison (Matt 4:12), Jesus moved out of Nazareth, away from his hometown.
But he didn’t move to Jerusalem–Israel’s equivalent of New York, New York. Instead, he moved to Galilee (v. 12); specifically, he moved to Capernaum (v. 13b). Capernaum was probably a bigger town than Nazareth but not much bigger or more influential than Nazareth. So the move to Capernaum wasn’t about seeking the largest possible audience.
Jesus also didn’t seek out the most influential audience or team members either. In verses 18-22 we read about call of Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They were hardworking Galilean fishermen but they weren’t anything like Frank Sinatra in terms of influence or fame (or singing skill, probably).
Jesus also didn’t go minister to the wealthy and powerful. Instead, he went the the neediest, most neglected group of people there were–sick people (vv. 23-24).
So there you have it. When Jesus wanted to build a ministry he moved to a small town far way from the bright lights of Jerusalem, he called average guys to help him and they went to serve the least influential people possible.
Nobody would try to build a career this way–nobody but Jesus, that is.
But it worked. Verse 25 told us that “large crowds” from all over Israel–Jerusalem included–came to follow Christ. This is because Jesus’s ministry was about the power and grace of God, not the power of talent or networking or one’s hometown.
Are you relying on these things–talent, your network, or your place of ministry–for success?
Jesus did go to Jerusalem and he did minister there, eventually. So, it isn’t wrong to go where the population and power is. But do we really trust God as we build lives and ministries for him or is our confidence in our cunning decisions, like finding the right location and the right influencers?
Put it another way: Can you be content to serve God where he has put you and let him decide how to use your faithful life and service to him?