Freedom to Receive
Jesus has begun his ministry, but he’s not going to do it alone; he clearly plans to involve others in this venture. This makes sense on a number of levels: He is a teacher, a rabbi, and thus must have students so they can learn from him and continue his ministry. Also, he wants to spread the good news of God’s kingdom, which, as they say, takes a village. I imagine he recognizes how hard this journey will be and knows he will need the support of a community to fulfill his calling.
Walking along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus sees Simon and Peter casting their nets. Using a fishing metaphor, he invites the two to follow him, and they do. Eventually, the new trio comes across two more fisherman brothers—James and John—and calls them. They too stop what they are doing and immediately join the group.
What’s striking is how quickly the four join him; they do so without reservation. They do not question him or ask for clarification. They do not take time to finish their work or say goodbye to their loved ones. They just go.
Clearly, something about Jesus leads them to respond so confidently. It could be his voice, the look in his eyes, the way in which he holds himself. I imagine it is the light shining through him. I imagine that Simon, Peter, James, and John all look up and recognize something brilliant about this man, and so they do not hesitate to step out of their boats, their identities, their ways of life, and follow him.
The Light is like that. It is so brilliant we can’t help but want to follow it. This frees us to let go of things that keep us from following the Light.
Lord, help me to let go of anything that keeps me from walking in your light. Free me for joyful obedience. Amen.
Sometimes we struggle with the challenges we face. If God is good and God is for us, then why do we experience pain and loss? Isaiah feels the sting of darkness and despair, and the psalmist has experienced days of distress. Yet both encourage themselves with the promise that God has not forgotten them. The light will come, as will the shouts of joy. The New Testament readings warn against following human leaders to the extent that we take our eyes off Christ. The Corinthian church has divided into factions that identify primarily with Paul or Peter, not Christ! The Gospel reading shows that Peter, like all other human leaders, is merely a disciple himself. Jesus is the one we should seek to follow.
Read Isaiah 9:1-4. How has God’s love freed you to find your calling?
Read Psalm 27:1, 4-9. When have you called out to God? How has God helped you turn your cries to praise?
Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-18. How have you experienced division within the body of Christ? How might a focus on Christ rather than particular faith leaders or denominations help you to repair division and work through differences?
Read Matthew 4:12-23. How have significant changes in your life (like a loved one’s death or a career change) allowed your ministry to grow?
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