The Silent Years
Text: Matthew 3:1-17
All the Gospels, including Matthew, did not comment on the growing up years of Jesus. The gap between childhood and manhood are often called “The Silent Years”. Several reasons may be suggested as to why little was said about the silent years.
Nazareth was a very small town in Galilee. It was so insignificant, that few could imagine that Someone Great could come from this town!
The insignificance of the town of Nazareth afforded some measure of security and safety for Jesus. Herod the Great may have died, but there were others who would like to make doubly sure that there would be no pretender to the throne of Israel.
Anonymity has its own advantages. Perhaps, the silent years were especially quiet so as to protect Jesus from possible harm and danger.
God had His own timing for everything. There would come a time when Jesus would be revealed to the public. His hour had not yet come, and thus God, as it were, hid Jesus until the right time. The silent years must not be deemed “wasted years”. They were anything but wasted. They were preparatory for the time when Jesus would be revealed.
3. Normal Life
How did Jesus spend the silent years?
a) He went to the local school.
b) He assisted His earthly father Joseph in his business.
c) He helped to bring up the other children that Joseph and Mary had.
d) He grew up well, waiting for the day when He would fulfil His destiny.
The Gospel of Luke carried an important statement about the growth and development of Jesus in the silent years.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature,
and in favour with God and men.”
4. An Additional perspective
Isaiah noted how the Messiah was personally instructed by the Lord.
“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens me morning by morning.
He awakens My ear
to hear as the learned.”
INTRODUCING THE MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIZER
Matthew introduced the ministry of John the Baptizer very abruptly. The following text may be seen as Matthew’s way of introducing John and his ministry.
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching
in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent,
for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!'”
There was hardly any introduction to John and his ministry. However, though the text may be succinct, nevertheless we are impressed by this introductory statement concerning John the Baptizer.
1. Association of Baptism with John’s ministry
The focus of this term is obvious. Translating the text literally, the baptizer may simply be called, “John of the Baptism”. The point is not a question of whether he immersed or poured water on the heads of people. The central idea is that John was associated with baptism!
2. A Great Preaching Ministry
The idea of “preaching” is that of “proclamation”. This is the essence of preaching! There would of course be exposition. But the main thrust of preaching is proclamation.
3. The Message proclaimed
The main theme was “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. If this is to be believed, obviously repentance is called for! How could anyone think about entering into the Kingdom of Heaven without repentance from sin?
4. Venue of Ministry
John chose the wilderness as his preaching ground. He did not choose to go into the cities at all to proclaim his message.
A QUICK REFERENCE
Matthew quickly made reference to the fact that John was fulfilling an ancient prophecy found in the Book of Isaiah.
“For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet
‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’ ”
Matthew 3:3 (Cf. Isaiah 40:3)
As far as Matthew was concerned, and he did not need to use the word “fulfill” to make his point, John was that voice in the wilderness! He was the forerunner of the Messiah. His ministry was therefore of great significance.