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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, January 26, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 4:12–23

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

As he walked 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. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As 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. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. (NRSV)

This text starts off with people walking in darkness. It starts off, most likely, with fishermen at the sea, at night, when much of the fishing took place. It starts off with Jesus coming to the edge of night, the edge of the sea, the edge of these hardworking, rough-and-tumble fishermen and saying the simple words “Follow me.” And it makes you wonder if it was actually pretty easy for Peter and Andrew, for James and John to leave their nets and follow. Because the night grows cold, the sea can be unforgiving, and the heart awaits warmth.

So, out of the dim scene, at night, with nets in a heap, a few fish jumping, the great light of the one, the One sent by God to lead people into the magnificent light of God, finds the unlikely candidates: yes, they were hard workers—yes, they were steady hands on the sea—yes, they said, “Yes,” with their feet, but we have to wonder why they up and left it all behind to follow.

You get up in the morning. You drink your warm morning beverage. You hustle your children out the door. Or you hustle yourself out the door to the day. You check the range of social media. You may diagnose a grave illness in a patient, or you may enlist a grand insight as you teach. You go home in the dark, make dinner, pause for grace, just a little measure of it, in a day that holds so much and yet comes to the dark shore. And there you are on the edge of night, of a shore, fishing for whatever might sustain. And then comes the voice: “Follow me, for I will make you fish, (teach, heal, harbor, hope) for humanity’s very soul.” What do you do next?

Thank you, dear Jesus, for believing in us. Thank you for equipping us with your marvelous courage and your magnificent call. And thank you for leading us to the great light that guides us from dark nights to shimmering day. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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