The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional is written by Becky Kerly. Becky makes sounds with things, and sometimes gets graded for it, and sometimes gets paid for it.

Matthew 4: 12-25

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.


When I read this passage, this line called out to me:

"They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him"

What struck me here was how fervently and immediately James and John heeded Jesus' words and followed him. I imagine every sense alert, ears and eyes wide, fixed on Jesus, as they dropped their nets without question and moved on impulse, and I thought, " I wish I could let go of control and follow Jesus like they did."

So what's stopping me? I believe the culprit is the boat and the father; in essence, everything I have come to know and been brought up on. I came to faith two years ago, and I still grapple with doubt and feeling ignorant (Christian baby syndrome, nice to see you) and I can rock back and forth between the atheist in me who wants to exercise control over her life, and my current impulses to follow the holy spirit. But I'm also held back by fear. Surrendering control and choosing to follow Jesus takes trust and patience, and to leave behind what you know feels painful.

During lockdown, I found a stagnant pond near my parents' house. An occasional fish would ripple the water's surface and I'd get excited. Each ring would expand until the water was still again, and I would eagerly wait for another one. I imagine that ripple to be the call of Jesus. No matter how small the calling may be, it's shown itself, and it's up to you to decide what you'll do with it. James and john left behind everything they knew and followed Jesus. I wonder what freedom could be discovered if we did that too.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you that you see us for who we are, with all that we bring. Thank you that you speak to us in unique ways. Help us to surrender our need to control, and to become like inquisitive children, following the call of the spirit.

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