Sunday Readings: Isaiah 8.23—9.3; 1 Corinthians 1.10-13,17; Matthew 4.12-23
As Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon known as Peter, and his brother, Andrew, who were casting a net into the sea. They fished for a living. Jesus said to them “Come, follow me. I want you to gather people into your nets.” Peter and Andrew immediately abandoned their nets and became his followers. Jesus walked along farther and saw James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in their boat, getting their nets in order with their father. Jesus called them and immediately they left their boat and their father to follow him (Matthew 4.18-22).
Upon John the Baptist’s arrest Jesus begins his ministry. Matthew makes a point of telling us that Jesus moves from Nazareth to Capernaum, a fishing village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee where he calls his first disciples.
Many Christians today may wonder why the four so unhesitatingly follow a man who comes walking along the lakeshore and invites them to, “Follow me.” Matthew is telling the story of the first disciples’ response to Jesus’ call more than 50 years later. This initial response hints the full commitment they grow into. They give their lives wholeheartedly to spreading Jesus’ good news after his death and resurrection.
Responding to Jesus’ friendship redirects their lives from casting nets for fish to gathering people into the Christian community. With them Jesus reaches out to the people of Galilee in their local synagogues. Jesus teaches that God is near; he brings God near in healing the sick.
In Matthew’s gospel not only James and John follow Jesus but so does their mother, who asks Jesus to give her sons positions at his right and left in his kingdom (20.20-21) and who is among the spice-bearing women at the tomb on Easter morning. (27.56).
Who has called and empowered you to minister? How did you respond? How did your response change your life?