Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee

Gospel Reflections by Rev Canon Philip Wadham


3rd Sunday after Epiphany – January 23 2011-01-23

Matthew 4:12-23

12 *Jesus Calls the First Disciples

18 As Jesus 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. 19And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As 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. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

fishers-of-menThe call of the first disciples in the story that Matthew tells is a familiar one to us, partly because both Luke and Mark tell a similar story.

The account in the gospel of John is quite different (John 1:35-42 and part of last Sunday’s gospel) and a comparison of these two stories is informative.

In John it appears that those who decide to follow Jesus, being Andrew, Simon (Peter) and another unnamed person are persuaded by Jesus words to attach themselves to this new teacher (they had previously been disciples of John the Baptist).

If in John’s story these three men “join up”, in Matthew (Mark, Luke) story Andrew and Peter, James and John are effectively “enlisted”, selected by Jesus to be among his close companions.

Jesus Ministers to Crowds of People

I imagine that most of us would identify with John’s story, how in listening to the words of Jesus we have decided that this is a way that we want to follow.  So we commit ourselves to follow that way.

What Matthew’s story teaches us is that the urgent call of Jesus to those fishermen is also a story of commitment, this time a commitment by Jesus to those who would follow his way – I will make you fish for people – that his presence is with us as we try to live out the gospel.

It’s the story of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany once again; God, in Christ committing himself to us.

Our response is similarly a commitment, like those first disciples, to follow the way of Christ.

Rev Canon Philip Wadham
St Stephen’s Anglican Church

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