SCRIPTURE: Matthew 4:12-23
When we realize that God answers prayer, we can draw the conclusion that God is real. When God is real, then it makes it is possible for Jesus to die as a payment for our sins. When we believe this, then we have to find out as much about Jesus as we can and to learn about God. A good place to begin is with the Gospels. In this season following Christmas called Epiphany, Matthew continues to give us an account of Jesus’ life.
John the Baptist’s ministry comes to an end with is arrest by Herod. Jesus who has been hanging out in the Judean countryside, finds this area hostile with Herod’s activity and withdraws to Galilee. His withdrawing is similar to Joseph’s
taking of his family to Egypt when Herod’s dad was on a killing rampage after the wise ones failed to return to him with news of the Christ child. But instead of Nazareth, Jesus takes up residence in Capernaum by the sea. An area, where Matthew reminds us is ancient Zebulun and Naphtali. A crossroads of Gentiles and Jews, where the Assyrian army trampled over Israel and caused the Babylonian Captivity. A war torn area of darkness. It is here that Jesus takes up the ministry of John the Baptist of calling people to “repent For the kingdom of heaven has come near”. Like Light, shining in the darkness, Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee. He was walking along the Sea of Galilee where he begins, by calling disciples. In the Gospel reading of Matthew it seems the things happen right away, immediately, without any forethought or preparations. But as we learned last week in the Gospel of John, it was John the Baptist who introduces Andrew to
Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God’. It is from this initial contact that Andrew decides to spend the rest of the day with Jesus and later call his brother Peter to come and see the ‘Messiah’. They must have been thinking about Jesus since then, even while casting their net, so when he appears on the seaside and calls them to follow, they drop their nets and go. The same thing occurs when Jesus comes across the sons of Zebedee, James and John. He calls them and they too leave what they were
doing, their lives, even their family, to follow Jesus. Katheryn Matthews’ commentary calls their dropping of everything to follow Jesus a “re-set” of their lives. Where we are called to leave everything—to let go of stuff—for exactly such a reorientation and renewal, as we would say today, a “re-set’ of their lives. Jesus confronts us with how important following God is in our lives.
God calls us to focus on Jesus and follow him, it ‘re-sets’ our lives for God. What would a re-set of our lives look like? If left to our own devices, we can be very self centered and short sighted. Our view of the world could be limited by only our perspective or of how things are as far as they affect me. But there is so much more to consider and be aware of than ourselves. This is what happens to us when God calls us to follow Jesus. These fishermen who's main concern were fish, how to get fish, lots of fish, fish to provide for their families and support a livelihood were reset to do something even more important, that would have a consequence beyond themselves, for the world and that was to follow Jesus.
Jesus calls them to reset their lives and join in the work God is doing, in Capernaum, in Galilee and in Judea, for the kingdom of heaven and the world. They followed Jesus throughout Galilee; teaching in synagogues, proclaiming the news of the presence of God’s reign, healing and calling more disciples to follow. They were reset from a view that included their lives, family and neighborhood to that of Galilee and the realm of God. But this is what happens when we turn to
God we realize that we have a call that is greater than just ourselves. We have a new direction open to a radical renewal. One that is concern about others, about how what we do effects their journey with God, and how they too can be called to
a ‘reset’ that is greater than themselves. In our day of technological advantages, we are dependent upon our devices
for communication, to keep us organized, for entertainment, for work and for leisure. But we have all had our technology fail us; a screen freezes on us or a program get stuck from over use, or find ourselves using on device the some
many windows open that all we get is a spinning color wheel. We get anxious, annoyed, angry and frustrated. No matter what we try remedies our situation. So we ask the teenager what to do. And they say, “power down, pull the plug,
press the reset button for ten seconds and power up, plug it in and wait.” All we can do during that 10 seconds of black screen is pray! Pray to reset our lives, drop our nets, follow Jesus, see that there is a calling more than what we have
been doing, how we can teach, proclaim, heal and call others to something more. These that Jesus called to follow were not perfect (Just like us). They were seeking God way. They didn’t find it in the way Judaism was being practiced with a strict adherence to the Law. They had good hearts. They were come as you are and learn as you go. They lived a technique called ‘shadowing’ where they learned as much as they could, by following Jesus around. The disciples had three years of this. For us it is from reading the Gospel and living as Jesus did now until forever. We learn as we go and get better and better at it. Even with following Jesus, it is easy to get distracted, have to many windows open, and find ourselves frozen. Turn off from time to time to ‘reset’. Pause, listen, pray, center yourself on what God wants for us and live into it.
After Christmas that season on the church calendar is 12 days ending with Epiphany. “My true love gave to me” Yeah God is my true love! That is how we get the twelve days of Christmas, opening up the give of Christ. Epiphany is the day that they Wise men make it to Bethlehem to worship Jesus. Epiphany means to ‘reveal’ We are in this season of ‘reveal’ until we turn the corner towards Easter with Ash Wednesday and Lent. The Church calendar helps us to prepare for the holidays that are coming up as we celebrate the important events of Jesus’ life. The Gospels reveal to us who Jesus is. This is our way to begin our shadowing of Jesus to be a disciple. Finding ourselves with Jesus in situations and see how Jesus works it would with love, compassion, wisdom and the help of God. Then in some way, we can teach what we know from our experience with Jesus, we can proclaim what we know about having God rule in our hearts, we can pray for healing where thing are not right and we can invite other to re-set their live through prayer towards the greater calling that God has for us beyond our selves.