Matthew 4 12-23
When Jesus got word that John had been arrested, he returned to Galilee. He moved from his hometown, Nazareth, to the lakeside village Capernaum, nestled at the base of the Zebulun and Naphtali hills. This move completed Isaiah’s sermon: Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, road to the sea, over Jordan, Galilee, crossroads for the nations. People sitting out their lives in the dark saw a huge light; Sitting in that dark, dark country of death, they watched the sun come up.
This Isaiah-prophesied sermon came to life in Galilee the moment Jesus started preaching. He picked up where John left off: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”
Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.
A short distance down the beach they came upon another pair of brothers, James and John, Zebedee’s sons. These two were sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their fishnets. Jesus made the same offer to them, and they were just as quick to follow, abandoning boat and father.
From there he went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God’s kingdom was his theme—that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. Word got around the entire Roman province of Syria. People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all. More and more people came, the momentum gathering. Besides those from Galilee, crowds came from the “Ten Towns” across the lake, others up from Jerusalem and Judea, still others from across the Jordan.
We notice a big change of life for the disciples – they leave the past to follow the Lord. Leaving behind their old jobs and roles, but also what might block them from living fully.
For this they need to believe in themselves. We pick up messages about ourselves from significant people and we may have to let the messages go. A child whose parents separate often feels unloved and they need the care and love that shows them they are ok. Every addicted person has deep down a sense of not being loved. Every child coming into the world deserves to know that he or she is loved.
In religion as well we need to touch into the love and the call of God. We need to let go of a religion of guilt, and of feeling separate from God for things that were often minor or not meant. We believe that the first gift of our faith is the love of God…the humble God who became one of us in love.
Look at the disciples now – letting go of nets. But they had something new. Each of us week by week can get this new thing here – the best thing going for us is in this church – the love of God. Everything else flows from that. We meet not to make ourselves loved by God but because God loves us.
To know the love of God – is a huge gift, and to know the love and acceptance of another or a few others in life is also a huge gift. Both are one. Love divine, all love excelling – in every love and friendship we have.