Matthew 4:13-22 (AD 27)
In the last reading Jesus walked through a crowd of people who were trying to throw him off a cliff…with them failing miserably to throw him off the cliff. That scene has always blown my mind. What did it look like? What did it sound like? Did God paralyse the would-be murderers? Blind them? Force a temporary change of mind? Chalk that up as another of those ‘God isn’t telling you because you don’t need to know’ passages.
Whatever the reason, that was it for Jesus in Nazareth (just as he prophesied in Luke 4:24). He moved to Capernaum (just as Isaiah prophesied); further north and on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Once there, Jesus began his preaching ministry (v.17), which is summarised in precisely the same words as John the Baptist’s ministry (John 3:2): “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”. In John 3:6 it is further noted that the people responded to that message by “Confessing their sins” and being baptised.
Jesus then called his first disciples, Peter and Andrew, with nothing more than a cryptic message about making them fishers not merely of fish, but of people. As we know, Jesus had gained a certain notoriety by this point, but he was by no means a celebrity. And with his recent past including a failed murder attempt against him, rejection by his entire local religious community and having to forge a new life away from his home town…he wasn’t in a good place to be attracting followers.
It was his authority, and Holy Spirit, who inspired these men to follow him. Busy men with families and mouths to feed, who knew that they had to be where he was, and to listen to what he said, and to learn from what he did. That authority came from the same place as the authority to walk through a murderous crowd unmolested.
Same deal with James and John. No explanation. Just a command. And they obeyed.
Jesus’ commands to us are the same:
Repent and believe the good news.