Chess Master

Any good at chess? I can usually work out what the board will look like one move later, but that’s about all. The game is all about strategy – if I do that, the opponent will reply by… and then …

Looking at Matthew 4:12-17, and wondering why Jesus moved to Capernaum when John the Baptist had been imprisoned. Was he moving to a safer location, out of the limelight and away from trouble? Reasonable, given that he had a work to do, and didn’t need it hampering by an early arrest.  Was he simply aiming to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah, bringing light to the region of ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’? What was his strategy?

I think Jesus was doing some forward planning. Capernaum was in fact no backwater. Important trade routes went through there.  It was a garrison town, with a detachment of Roman soldiers under a centurion, and administrative officials. It was a commercially thriving place, with merchants passing through. The message Jesus was bringing was based in Judaism, but was meant to go out from there to all the world. And Capernaum was a Jewish town with a world-wide reach.

I am told that when a person accepts Jesus as Saviour, they have usually had several meaningful conversations or encounters that have led them to the point of commitment. Anything that happened in and around Capernaum had a good chance of being reported and well circulated around the known world. How many of the stories and healings of Jesus had already been broadcast when the apostles finally got out there to make disciples? A good deal of the work would have already been done by the world wide whisper web! I reckon Jesus would have made a great chess player.

As his followers, are we using all the tactical advantages available? I heard of some Christians who would go to the supermarket together, get into two different checkout queues and hold a meaningful conversation across the the queues, witnessing to a captive audience! Jesus is a great strategist. Ask him to show you new ways of gossiping the gospel, relevant to your context.

But the strategy is useless unless we have the confidence in him and in ourselves to activate the ideas. Be open to new ideas, but be filled afresh with the Holy Spirit for power to carry them through.

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