Matthew 4: 12-23
Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
I don’t know about you but I am not a big fan of the month of January. People tell me the days start to get longer and we have turned the corner and are on our way to spring, but for me it’s still dark and gloomy, cold and rainy days, especially this year, I think. Permanent twilight throughout the day, clouds often gathering to wage war on the daylight. However, on the odd occasion we do see light breaking through, to brighten the day. If you get a moment, have a search and listen to a song called Jacob’s Ladder by the Canadian band Rush. You will get the idea if you do.
In our Gospel reading this morning we skip through not only in Jesus earlier ministry but also sadly we approach the end of John the Baptist’s ministry. Rather like on a stormy day when the clouds start to gather, we read that the storm clouds of opposition to John and by association Jesus, are gathering. Its reminiscent of Jesus early life, having to move to Egypt, for safety. Here Jesus goes to Capernaum, quite a significant move, geographically and importantly ministerially.
The move we read is part of a prophecy, something that has been anticipated, waited for, longed for, change is on its way, as promised. Verse 17 we hear Jesus proclaiming “Repent, for the Kingdom of God has come near” just as John the Baptist had done (Matt 3:2). John prepared the way for Jesus to bring that repentance promised, that light for those sat in darkness. The key for us here is we read that Jesus is bringing that message to the gentiles, to you and me. There is I believe a strong allegory within our reading where Jesus moves away from the promised land, crosses back over the river Jordan to meet with us.
The light Isaiah prophesised about, the light that the Magi followed, that drew the Shepherds, still breaks through the storm clouds of life to show the way. It beckons us, to come and see, as Jesus called us in the reading last week. To follow him, because the Kingdom of God has come near, to be part of His ministry. That’s how our reading ends, with calling of the disciples, Jesus tells them to leave their nets, to come and see what is going to happen, to make them fish for people. And that’s what they did proclaimed the good news of the kingdom.
Jesus is the light that has come in to our dark world, we are drawn to it, it has risen upon us, guides us. It beckons calls each and every one of us to come and see, answer the call, to follow him.