Third Sunday after Epiphany | January 26, 2020
Matthew 4:12-23 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
12 John had been put in prison. When Jesus heard about this, he returned to Galilee. 13 Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in the city of Capernaum. It was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 In that way, what the prophet Isaiah had said came true. He had said,
15 “Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Galilee, where Gentiles live!
Land along the Mediterranean Sea! Territory east of the Jordan River!
16 The people who are now living in darkness
have seen a great light.
They are now living in a very dark land.
But a light has shined on them.” (Isaiah 9:1,2)
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach. “Turn away from your sins!” he said. “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”
18 One day Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee. There he saw two brothers, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the lake, because they were fishermen. 19 “Come and follow me,” Jesus said. “I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers. They were James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee. As they were preparing their nets, Jesus called out to them. 22 Right away they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.
23 Jesus went all over Galilee. There he taught in the synagogues. He preached the good news of God’s kingdom. He healed every illness and sickness the people had.
After a week outside of Matthew, we are back in Matthew and continuing through Matthew’s descriptions of the events in Jesus’ life. Two weeks ago, we heard about how Jesus was baptized…how that Jesus said, “We must carry out all that God requires.”
We skipped over the account of Jesus’ temptation, because we will deal with that on the First Sunday of Lent. After Jesus’ temptation we hear how Jesus’ ministry began. Last week, we said that after the baptism of Jesus, John faded into the woodwork. Part of that reason is that he was arrested and put into prison. John the Baptist was not one to mince words. He was willing to tell it like it is. We learn that Jesus starts his ministry after John has been put into prison. Here the accounts of Matthew and John have different takes on the story.
Jesus starts his ministry…picking up where John the Baptist left off. We learn that Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” John had already been preaching this – preparing the way for the people.
Jesus also knows, that he can’t do all the work, so he starts recruiting disciples. He is walking along the Sea of Galilee. It is here that he sees two fishermen and calls those fishermen to follow him and to help him preach the Gospel of repenting from sin and turning to God.
It doesn’t appear from the text that there was any hesitation. When God called, they immediately left their nets. When God called, they left everything they knew behind and started to follow this unknown teacher. They don’t walk very much further and Jesus calls two more disciples who also follow him and follow Jesus immediately. They leave their nets…all their fishing equipment…and…their family.
Jesus said the cost of doing God’s work is high. It is a sacrifice that is required daily. That’s why he later tells his disciples, “You must take up your cross daily.” Imagine what it felt like to leave everything you know to follow some itinerant preacher.
But that’s what they did. It’s not in our text, but in what follows that Jesus attracted quite a crowd – everywhere He went – people followed. Jesus was preaching the Good News of the Kingdom – preaching repentance, healing the sick, casting out demons…whatever was ailing them. Jesus was changing the world…one person at a time. He showed his disciples what was required – and soon, He would command them to do the same. Even while he was with them…he sent them out…into the highways and hedges to preach the Good News and heal the sick.
Today, God is calling us to do the same…not just the “professional” but God is calling all of his people to preach the Good News…to build the Kingdom of Heaven. Just imagine if each disciple would make a new disciple – what a change would happen in the world.