Summary: After John the Baptist was imprisoned, Jesus journeyed to Capernaum and the region of Galilee
January 27, 2019
Christ’s Powerful Ministry Making Fishers of Men
Today’s gospel reading begins with Jesus hearing the news that John the Baptist had been arrested and imprisoned by Herod. Jesus immediately journeyed north to Capernaum, in the northwestern region of the Sea of Galilee.
Interestingly, Matthew relates this journey as fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2.
“Nevertheless, the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed. As when at first, He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. And afterward, more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death. Upon them a light has shined.”
I am going to stray a moment here, to try and clarify a point or two. 1) Jesus left Nazareth and traveled up to Capernaum. Why? One reason would be to expand the gospel to the Gentile world. Capernaum was densely populated with persons of diverse backgrounds, ethnicity and culture. In contrast to Nazareth, comprised mostly of Jewish population; the region of Capernaum and all of Galilee was heavily populated by Gentiles. 2) Isaiah relates to us that the area was a land of darkness, meaning despair. 3) Isaiah’s prophecy ends with “Light has dawned.” Of course, we see Christ as that light.
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”’ (John 8:12)
4) Zebulun and Naphtali were sons of Jacob. The tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali settled in the area inland from the Mediterranean Sea and north of Nazareth and Cana. Thus, the areas of these tribes became know as the land of Zebulun and Naphtali.
And so, Jesus embarks on His ministry of dispensing LIGHT to dispel DARKNESS in Galilee. (See verse 23) Jesus carried on with the message of John the Baptist – “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (verse 17).
We read and dwell on the healings and the miracles, don’t we? Overcoming great handicaps and diseases makes for exciting reading and it energizes us. Miracles that are so astounding to us that it often conjures up visions of magic even though we know there is NO magic. It makes for entertaining reading and holds our attention. But much more of Jesus’ ministry is that of teaching and preaching.
I don’t know about you but for me listening to preaching and teaching can be as uncomfortable as an intellectual lecture from a college professor talking about the proclivity of a microscopic germ cell reacting to having been introduced to a new form of toxic substance.
Yes, I speak to myself here, as well. That is why I do my best to teach, preach and even write in the same relaxed manner that I do in any conversation. It is our objective to convey truth in a manner that is readily understood and comfortable to retain. It doesn’t always work out that way, does it? Be gentle with your response here, please.
Matthew mentions in verses 18-21 that Jesus beckoned four fishermen to abandon their lives as fishermen and follow Him to become “fishers of men”.
As Jesus walked along by the seashore, He encountered Andrew and Simon Peter hard at work casting nets to bring in a catch of fish. He called out to them to come follow Him to become fishers of men. The reading says that they immediately left their nets and followed Jesus.
Wait a minute pastor. Last week you said that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and when Jesus was introduced, he began to follow Jesus. Well, let’s not make too many assumptions that are not biblically verifiable, but I am inclined to believe that Andrew and Peter did follow Jesus to where He was staying and among others listened and held on to the teachings of Jesus and then returned to their daily lives, albeit enriched with some new-found truths. I like to think of it like attending a bible conference and then returning home to a way of life, perhaps influenced by some new-found truths.
I also think that Jesus recognized these two men and also John and James the sons of Zebedee as hard working, strongly dedicated men and who would make great disciples to learn and further the gospel message. We know that turned out to be so, don’t we?
Like every aspect of our Christian walk, we seek to learn and reinforce the teachings of Christ and the Will of God, as we see it. Yet, we do return to a secular life. I would say that Jesus is just as apt to make a personal calling on your life as much so as anyone else, including Andrew, Peter, John and James. We must be ready for such a calling. Remember, Jesus doesn’t look for perfection, He looks for repentance and willingness to follow.