Monday, January 20, 2014

Thy Kingdom Come

The gospel starts with some bad news. John the Baptist has been arrested and Jesus has withdrawn to Galilee. He is on the run. He might be arrested next so he heads for the hills. Galilee is a pretty remote part of Israel and there were a lot of Gentiles there back then. So it looks like a humiliating retreat for Jesus.

What does he do? He begins to preach. He says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The strangeness of it is lost on us. Herod is winning. He is the king. If you are going to make such a bold statement as proclaiming a new kingdom should you not at least do it in Jerusalem and have some kind of army behind you? I mean one guy coming into some village in the middle of nowhere declaring the kingdom of heaven is here? Isn't it a bit much?

Then something amazing happens. Well, it won't amaze the people of Galilee but it would amaze the early Christians who Matthew is writing to. Jesus walks down by the Sea of Galilee and talks to some fishermen. He asks them to follow Him and they do. Now that is not that remarkable except these fishermen have names. Peter and Andrew from one boat. James and John from another boat. He just calls them and they come.

The names are well known to us. These are some of the leaders in the early church. The point is obvious. Jesus has power. He can have nothing and after a walk by the seashore he suddenly has a bunch of great saints beside him. OK they have a ways to go before they are saints but we can see it now. He needs people. He calls people. They come. There is still a long way to go before there is a kingdom but Jesus is a big step closer now and he has accomplished that big step with amazing ease.

Jesus calls them and they immediately follow. Peter and Andrew are casting a net into the sea. Nets are important assets for a fisherman. Today we can buy nets cheaply. They had to make them. It was work. They left their nets in the sea. There could be no delay. They had to follow Jesus right now. It was the same thing with James and John. They were with their father. They left their boat. They left their nets. They left their father. They had to go immediately.

The details are interesting. Peter and Andrew are fishing and Jesus invites them to become fishers of men. John and James are mending nets. I remember a priest from a missionary order comparing himself to our parish priest. "He is in management and I am in sales" was his line. I wonder if that same difference is not evident here.

Peter and Andrew are the fishers of men. John and James are the menders of the nets. Fishing is aggressive. Being a fisher of men is about evangelizing. Mending nets is a more contemplative and more administrative. They spend time with the father. They are all fishermen, they are all called, and they all follow and become apostles. Yet the differences between these men is not ignore by Jesus. It is celebrated and utilized to the fullest extend possible.


  1. Just FYI, the brick testament people are pretty explicit on their site about not using their images on blogs. It's a shame, their stuff is awesome and I'd love to use it myself.

  2. Good to hear from you Haus. Thanks for the tip. I think I have used their stuff before but I can change it.

  3. Thanks :) I've been crazy busy, turns out raising a child is fairly time consuming :)