Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; 26-January-2013; Matthew 4:12-25

Matthew 4:12-25   NIV2010        Jesus Begins to Preach

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,

    the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,

    Galilee of the Gentiles—

16 the people living in darkness

    have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of the shadow of death

    a light has dawned.”

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and 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, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus Heals the Sick

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

 

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Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Peter, Andrew, James, and John and invited them to become his disciples. Immediately they left their families, put away their kindles, gave their laptops and cameras to the needy and worthy recipients and left to follow Jesus.  I have a hard time believing it was that simple or that it was that easy.

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All God’s creatures (including humans) are created with fight or flight syndrome. When we see something that is bigger than ourselves, when we see something that we do not understand, our automatic response is to run to safety and figure out what is it that we are seeing and how to respond to it. When we do not perceive any chance or opportunity to seek safety, then our fighting instincts kick-in.

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The reason God created us this way is for our own safety. When we see an upcoming train, the smartest thing to do is to get out of the way. If we choose to fight, and God has to stop the train, people on the train will get hurt because the sudden stop will cause havoc inside the train. That is why we are created with a fight or flight response (our own “flight” may protect others as well).

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Once in a while every pastor hears someone say something like, “If only Jesus would call me like he did his first disciples, if only I could witness Jesus’ presence first hand, I would have faith that could move mountains. I would drop everything and follow him in a heartbeat. But since I do not see Jesus manifest himself like that to me,” that person continues, “I will just live my life and leave that ‘church stuff’ to others. I will see you at Easter and at Christmas if the mood strikes me; otherwise leave me alone…”

Such understanding could not be further from the truth. When Peter, Andrew, James and John heard Jesus for the first time, more than likely they were intrigued and scared by what they heard. They probably sought Jesus out to learn more, and eventually, after a few days (or even weeks or months) they could visualize themselves following Jesus and that is when Jesus invited them to follow him. The events that are described in just a few sentences, probably took a couple of weeks, if not months, in real time.

I say that because just like you and I, Peter, Andrew, James and John were created with fight or flight syndrome. When they met Jesus, when they sensed the presence of God in a human form that they did not understand yet, their first instinct would be to run away.

Jesus gave them the time and the space that they needed to recognize that they, ordinary people just like you and I, could do extraordinary things if they teamed up with God because when we are with God, all things are possible.

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I think that this is why today’s reading includes a portion where Jesus healed the sick. He was working with those around him to make sure that they were comfortable with his presence, that his presence was “bigger” than anything that they had witnessed before and that his presence would heal them instead of harming them. In other words, Jesus gave those around him opportunities to witness that they did not need to run away.

I wonder how many men and women were initially scared and actually refused to follow Jesus. We saw it in Scriptures where someone told Jesus that he would follow Jesus “after he buried his father.” Remember, Jesus replied by saying “let the dead bury their own dead.” Most of us struggle with that story because we are not comfortable with Jesus who would not let the poor man attend the funeral of his father. That could not be further from the truth because this man’s father was probably alive and well. What the man said was, “I have obligations, I am not my own man. When my situation changes I will follow you.” (MATTHEW 8:22; Luke 9:60)

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We also saw it in the Hebrew Scriptures. Remember the story of the Hebrew tribes after exiting Egypt. They had just witnessed ten plagues; they had just been delivered by God through the Reeds Sea, and brought to Mount Sinai. Moses goes up on the mountain and the Hebrews see and hear dark clouds, lightening and rumbling. They did not understand dark clouds, lightening and rumbling and they were scared, and because they were scared they went back to what they knew: idol worship ( Exodus 24, 32). Idol worship was their version of “flight to safety.”

What’s in it for us.

We tend to think and imagine that God works in discrete events.

{Illustration }. We think that (that God works in discrete events or miracles/divine coincidences) because we are separated by 4000 years from the Hebrew Bible and by almost 2000 years from the Early Christian Writings and the Gospels. We think that (that God works in discrete events or miracles/divine coincidences) because Bible is extremely terse in its descriptions and in how it conveys information. Originally all this information had to be transmitted orally and then someone had to physically write every single letter on a scroll – very expensive and time consuming operation. I want to make it clear that I do not discount miracles or divine coincidences; personally I witnessed some in my life and in the lives of others. All I am trying to do is to offer an explanation as to why the Bible is so brief and concise.

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That being understood, most of the time God works by building relationships and working through communities

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God always calls ordinary people like Peter, Andrew, James and John and does extraordinary things through them. God does it by forming communities and giving a common vision to each community.

What is a community and how does God build one?
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When we are with God all things are possible.  

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