Jesus picked up where John left off. Proclaiming the kingdom.
I mean Jesus picked up with exactly the same message John had proclaimed. When Matthew tells the story, he says that John said, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And then, after John is arrested, Jesus starts preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
It’s an interesting parallel. It affirms to the reader that John’s message was from God. When the one greater than John arrives, he speaks the same message.
The message of Jesus is a messiah and kingdom kind of message.
But I’m intrigued at what Jesus does around the time of speaking this message.
Jesus was baptized by John somewhere along the Jordan River, which runs 156 miles from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. After his baptism, Jesus went into the wilderness, fasted for 40 days, and went through a period of temptation. He heard that John was arrested. He headed north. Back to Galilee, back to the town where he grew up.
But he wasn’t going home. He was wrapping up loose ends and getting ready to start his work. He picks up whatever he had to move from Nazareth and went to Capernaum. It was a regional center, at the north end of the Sea of Galilee. There was a Roman garrison. There was a synagogue. There was a thriving fishing trade.
It was a city at the edges of Jewish culture, at the edges of the occupying army. It was at the edge of the galaxy, it was the edge of the wild west.
It was where Peter, Andrew, James, and John were working.
Jesus picked that place to start preaching. With a simple message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”