Matthew 4:12-23 The Ministry of Jesus Begins (NLT)
12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 13 He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.”
17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
The First Disciples
18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind. 23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.
I love the calling of the first disciples and this piece will be focused on that statement “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”. I ask myself all the time if a man called out to me and said “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”, I would be moving very slowly in the opposite direction before making a run for it. In such few words Jesus provides risk and security. What compelled these fishermen to leave everything and go? What surged through them to just depart. There was a trust established, a longing to be fulfilled and a call to be answered. There was no overthinking, something which I think we definitely have a tendency to do.
But why did they just go? I was reading a few articles on this question and there were a few reasons that I read. One, that Jesus was seen as a Rabbi and when a rabbi would come and say to you, I want to teach you, it’s a big deal. Another reason is that because these disciples were people of faith, they were already looking for the Messiah and, because culture at that time was not oversaturated with every social media platform under the sun, Jesus’s words were sincere and earnest and Simon, Andrew, James and John hadn’t been influenced by other people’s opinions.
So, in a saturated world, how do we discern truth; life-giving and risk-taking truth? How do we distinguish between God’s truth and our truth because we are very good at turning our truth into His. We take something, overthink it so much that it becomes something else, something that we could believe to be the way, the right and only way. We can turn that distorted truth and use God as a scapegoat when we don’t want to confront situations that are too uncomfortable, or too tough. One too many times, I have heard the statement “God told me that…” There are, of course, some situations that this is very true but I have heard this statement a lot and, quite honestly, I question the motives of why those who say it, particularly when the outcome is convenient. Funny how this statement can be said and the same person can very quickly turn around and say that they find it really hard to hear God. You have got to love selective hearing!
We long to hear God talk to us, to guide us and we strain so hard to hear Him and when we don’t, we get disheartened. What if He is talking to us all the time and, because we have this assumption that hearing God is done in a particular way, we have been missing out on some vital parts of our lives?
I was recently in a conversation with a few people and I was listening to one person talk about a situation where they had to choose which church they wanted to go to. They had been frequenting two churches for some time and it was getting to the stage where they felt they had to settle in one. They deliberated over this and were really trying to discern what God wanted them to do. At this point, I hadn’t really spoken, I just wanted to listen. There was a lull in the conversation and I asked “What does your gut say?”. They seemed a little taken aback because I just asked a simple question. We didn’t come to a resolution but the question remained with them.
Our gut instinct, is called that for a reason. It's there to remind us that we are equipped to hear God, simply. We have ears, yes, but what if God has enabled us to hear him in other ways? For me, my gut is how God and I get stuff done. Or, rather, how He gets stuff done in me and with me. Any time I have to make a decision, particularly big decisions, my gut is where I hear God. I had this ‘gut’ feeling to leave my job as a receptionist and enter full-time ministry right before the recession and just after I had moved out of my parents' house. When myself and my husband decided to get together, my gut instinct told me that this was the first person I was in love with and I knew I would marry him. It’s through my gut that I know I am called to serve in Ireland, when I had an opportunity to work somewhere else, I had to hold on to the fact that I knew where I was called to. The only plan I had was that I was secure with God and that I had to risk it. I wouldn’t call myself a risk-taker but, when I look back on my career and my life decisions, I realise that I am. I must come across to some people as a complete idiot, completely foolish and just bizarre. To leave positions that would bring financial stability, possible job security etc. just doesn’t get my blood flowing. You can call me foolish, call me silly, call me idiotic but I choose to follow God, I choose to live a sacrificial life; a life that has ups and downs. I choose risk, and I choose a life that is different. I welcome it.
“Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”. What is your gut instinct saying? Don’t overthink it. God is always talking to you, always calling you, and he gave you more than ears. He gave you a body with which to hear him. Enjoy the risk and delight in the security you have with Him, even if it’s not the security you'd think!
Susie Keegan is a creative, a font nerd, a graphic designer and the Church of Ireland Chaplain to Dublin Institute of Technology with 11 years experience in youth work. Use ‘Comic Sans’ in the wrong context and you’ll feel her wrath! Being an author on this blog has really pushed her comfort zone and she is very happy to be part of this community.