Sunday 22 January 2017

Bible Book:

“From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” (v. 17)

Matthew 4:13-23 Sunday 22 January 2017

Psalm: Psalm 27


Having been baptized (Matthew 3:13-17) and then tempted by the devil(Matthew 4:1-11), Jesus begins his publicministry with preaching, healing and the choosing of his firstdisciples. Matthew's Gospel links the start of Jesus' ministry withthe ending, through imprisonment, of his cousin John's ministry (Matthew 14:3).

Matthew's Gospel explains Jesus' decision to base his ministryaround Capernaum using words from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah9:1-2). Jesus leaves the family home in Nazareth but remains inGalilee. "Galilee of the Gentiles/nations" (v. 15) captures thefact that although the area was Jewish it was close to non-Jewishterritory and had a cosmopolitan population of assorted ethnicityand religion.

The "kingdom of heaven" (v. 17) is a shorthand way of expressingthe long-held Jewish hope that God would anoint a leader who wouldestablish an era of political and spiritual fulfilment where God'ssovereignty would be exercised and acknowledged. By re-statingJohn's emphasis on repentance (see Matthew 3:2) Jesus declares that people mustturn their lives around in order to experience the kingdom.

Jesus was to give 12 disciples a special role in being part ofhis ministry and carrying it forward after his death andresurrection. They are named in Matthew 10:2-4, but we do not know thecircumstances by which many of them joined his group of followers.In this passage we read about four fishermen who were to have keysignificance. They would almost certainly have known Jesus beforethis occasion on which he asked them to "Follow me" (v. 19), andthey would have understood this as an invitation to become hiscompanions and learners. The emphasis on leaving nets, boats andfather underline that this was a life-changing moment for them.

To Ponder

  • What moments have been life-changing for you? In what sense didyou have a choice? And in what ways, if any, was repentance a partof that change?
  • Do you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus? How would youexplain to someone what it means to describe oneself in thatway?
  • Jesus "made his home in Capernaum" (v. 13). Today is HomelessSunday. What makes a home, and how might we contribute toreversing the doubling in homelessness that has arisen in the lastfew years?

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