Friday of Epiphany 3 – Matthew 4:12-25

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
    the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
    have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
    on them a light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

I am still ashamed to say it, but we mocked this man when we were at the seminary. His questions in class were so simplistic. His Greek was not very good. His grasp of the complexities of life was rudimentary at best. We wondered what would happen to him when he left the seminary and hit the “real world” of parish service. Several years later I ran across one of his parishioners and then a little while later a colleague in ministry. They could not stop singing the praises of this pastor. He was a fisher of men. His parish thrived and grew under his care. He loved people and was constantly out among them, speaking of God’s love and forgiveness.

Jesus walked along the shores of Galilee and calls the most unlikely of men to be his disciples. If I would have selected someone to be my emissary, I might have selected someone who was well educated, schooled in the finer points of rhetoric and philosophy of the age, trained by rabbis and theologians. But I would have been wrong. Jesus saw into the hearts of these men and called them for reasons which are largely opaque to me and you.

This same miracle-working Jesus is in the calling business today. Perhaps he is calling you to some work in his kingdom. Do not imagine that your apparent weaknesses are a hindrance to Him. It is quite likely that the disciples whom he called that day were barely literate. We have a beautifully written letter from Peter, but at the end of that letter he admits that he leaned on his friend, Silvanus, in its composition (I Peter 5:12). The Lord gave Peter the friend who crafted the letter and put Peter’s inspired words into beautiful form. He brings His gifts to you too. Listen to His call.

But perhaps you need to reconsider the man or woman through whom God is serving you. They can often be a little rough around the edges or perhaps not quite what you expected. But God sees differently than you and I see. Pray and listen. It is true that scripture warns us against a naïve trust in those who claim to speak for the Lord. Wolves have been known to dress in sheep’s clothing. Yet, be aware, Christ calls some strange and unlikely people to His service.

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