Jesus Begins His Work
(Matthew 4.12-17; Luke 4.14,15)
14After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee and told the good news that comes from God. 15 He said, “The time has come! God's kingdom will soon be here. Turn back to God and believe the good news!”
(Matthew 4.18-22; Luke 5.1-11)
16As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were fishermen and were casting their nets into the lake. 17Jesus said to them, “Follow me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish.” 18Right then the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him.
19Jesus walked on and soon saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat, mending their nets. 20At once Jesus asked them to come with him. They left their father in the boat with the hired workers and went with him.
Jesus returns to Galilee after John’s arrest, an arrest that ends in death – perhaps a foreshadowing of Jesus’ own death? John’s ministry is over but Jesus’ has just started. Jesus’ message is similar to John’s but with the additional proclamation that “The time has come!” In essence Jesus is saying “I have come!”
Jesus is also saying that the kingdom of God is coming. Then and now, God’s kingship is both a present and future reality. His kingdom is present now and it will be completely established in the future.
And in this passage Jesus is drawing kingdom builders close to himself.
I feel ambivalent about the disciples. Looking at them through the lens of history, I am both grateful for and frustrated by their humanity. Grateful, because their humanity allows me to identify with them. Frustrated, because their humanity stopped them from understanding Jesus, until after the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. At the time, they couldn’t truly understand who Jesus was. I wish, for his sake, that they could have. But they understood enough to follow him. Mark gives no indication whether they had met Jesus or heard him before these encounters along the shore of Lake Galilee. The “Markisms” of “Right then” (v.18) and “At once” (v. 20) create a sense that no time elapsed between Jesus’ invitation to go with him and their actual going.
Hard as I am on the disciples, I know their response to Jesus’ invitation to be kingdom builders was far more immediate and complete than mine has ever been. Is Jesus extending a kingdom building invitation to you now?
Lord God, may I have the courage to follow your Son just as the disciples did, paying attention to the opportunities I have to be a kingdom builder. In his name I pray, Amen