Left Their Nets
For Sunday, January 22nd, 2023
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.
After Jesus’s baptism and before his public ministry, John the Baptist is absent from Matthew’s narrative accounts because he had been arrested. When Jesus learns about John’s arrest, he goes to Galilee to the region inherited by the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali in fulfillment of the prophecy (see Isaiah 9:1–2). This same prophecy is the one that predicted how a “child,” a “son” (Isaiah 9:6), would be born in Israel who would be a “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and sit “upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness” (Isaiah 9:7). Knowing full well the implications of his actions, Jesus begins to call his disciples and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom amidst all these Messianic expectations.
The men he called to follow him were simple fishermen. They probably had heard the scriptures—especially the ones that speak of the Messiah coming from their region—because they attended synagogue services on the Sabbaths. They had faith in God, but they probably didn’t believe these prophecies would come true in their lifetimes. Then, all that changed when they heard the excitement around Jesus’s preaching as he went around exclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
When our Lord calls you, he doesn’t ask you to be someone you are not. God’s grace does not impose itself on you or destroy your individuality; rather, it elevates, transforms, and perfects you into the man that you were created to be. Jesus sees that Peter, Andrew, James, and John have natural skills as fishermen. Jesus then uses those skills to make them great evangelists, saying, “I will make you fishers of men.” Notice the response of each of these men. Scripture recounts how “[a]t once they left their nets” and “immediately” followed him. Their hearts were ready because they were open.
Where is your heart today? Is it scared to let go and let God in, or does it freely offer everything to God, trusting that he will make you the greatest version of yourself? In your meditative prayer today, ask God for the grace to drop your nets—whatever they may be—so that you may follow Christ unreservedly.
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