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; February 21, 2016; Matthew 4:18-25
Matthew 4:18-25 NIV2010
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
NIV2010 Matthew 4: 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.
Has anyone ever asked you how you became a believer? What’s your story?
Most of us have experienced an encounter with the divine [a distinct event when we faced the Holy] and we were transformed by that encounter. These encounters result in the stories of our faith journey. While each of these stories is fairly simple, each story is unique and rich in human experience. Each story reflects the individuality of the person it belongs to. Every one of these stories reflects that person’s understanding of what God is doing in the world, in their life and THROUGH their life.
People become followers of Jesus because Jesus has touched their lives. People become followers of Jesus because Jesus has called them and has spoken to them. When I experience Jesus interacting with me, his “voice” and “touch” are gentle, genuine, intimate, and authoritative. That voice fills every crevice of my soul and every fiber of who I am. I suspect that your experiences are not all that different from mine. We are all human and we share that humanity; we are all created by God and we share that tie with the Divine.
Today’s reading is about God interacting with people who were not all that different from you and I. That interaction ignited the Disciples’ imagination and inspired them to reimagine their lives, to take off from everything that they knew and loved for something unknown and entirely different.
Matthew tells us that Jesus was ministering around the Sea of Galilee, and that he invited Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him to become “fishers of men and women,” instead of being commercial fishermen. Jesus invited Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John to re-imagine what their lives could be, and then work towards that vision. We know the rest of the story. There were hardships and drastic events (good and bad) that happened in the Disciples’ lives between the time that Jesus called them and the time of Pentecost, when the Church Universal was born.
Today’s reading asserts that when Jesus called his first Disciples, it was an invitation to become something that they were “not yet” in response to their experience of God. Paul said it very well in 1 Corinthians 1:17 and I will use the Message translation of the Holy Scriptures.
God didn’t send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.
Paul reminds us that we follow Jesus by living his message.
When Jesus called the fishermen, he told them that he would make them “fishers of men.” Fishing was a common profession in Jesus’ time. The reality is that we do not live in Jesus’ time, we live in the second decade of the twenty-first century. We are not living around the Sea of Galilee, we live in Wilmington, DE, and half-way between Philadelphia, PA and Baltimore, MD. We do not have any commercial fishermen, but we have engineers, teachers, accountants, artists, salespersons, office workers, nurses, blue color workers, retirees and stay-at-home moms.
For today’s reading to be meaningful to us we need to ask ourselves what it means to us to hear a call to follow Jesus. How do we “fish for men?”
How will a person who is recently unemployed hear this account of the call of the disciples? What does it mean to him or her to hear Jesus say, “follow me,” and how can it help them to re-imagine their future and to re-invent themselves?
How will someone who has recently lost a loved one hear an invitation from Jesus “follow me?” How will it help them to heal the emotional wounds and to face the loneliness ahead? How will it challenge them to adapt to their new circumstances and to do what has to be done so that healing eventually comes?
What would it mean to young people who are still in school or in college to hear “Follow Me?” in terms of their education, in terms of their interactions with each other, their future jobs, their dating life, and preparing themselves to build their own families sometime in the future?
How will today’s readings inspire a person who is close to retirement, and how will he or she envision God using their talents in the future? What do the words “follow me” mean to a retired person?
Sometimes I wonder what would make a person drop everything they are comfortable with and pursue an entirely new life. Would it be ethnic or racial persecution? Would it be a famine in their homeland? Would it be a proposal to share the rest of their life with that special someone? Would it be a great job offer? Would it be an opportunity to make a positive impact in a totally different part of the world? What would make it attractive to you to leave everything you know and love and pursue something entirely different and unknown?
God calls us to action in our time and place. Our present is shaped by previous decisions, actions and a multitude of external factors. As Christians we are called to listen and respond to God’s presence in the ordinary moments of our own lives. All of our stories are part of a much larger narrative that embraces scientific discoveries and spiritual revelations. We are called to be partners with God and each other in the way we shape the faith of future generations, as well as the future of our planet.
Every day there are people who “abandon their nets” because God has inspired them to step out on faith to do something entirely different. God does it because the world isn’t “just fine, thank you very much.” God does it because there are things that are not right with the world, after all we live in a fallen world. God does it because God is in the process of continual renewal of his Creation. Every day there are people who drop everything in response to God’s call.
I want to close with a question: What is God calling you to do with your life? We tend to domesticate, simplify and reduce this question and our answers as if God called his disciples to volunteer a single night at the winter shelter. The realities of our world press us with questions far too important to trivialize God’s call on our lives. (Carey)
Jesus’ call to follow him is more than an invitation to pray a prayer or do some activity once/week. It is a summons to lose your life, so that there is room to find a new life in your relationship with God.
For some God may be calling them to something completely new, a complete change in their lives. For others, it may be something close to home. But it’s never trivial.
Carey, Greg. “Mark 1:14-20: A Call Worthy of Their Lives .” 18 January 2012. Huffington Post. 18 January 2012 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-carey/mark-1-14-20-worthy-of-their-lives_b_1211563.html>.