“The Ministry Begins”
Most of Jesus’ early ministry took place in Galilee, a backwoods part of the Holy Land, but one that the prophet Isaiah had prophesied would be the locus of God’s activity in fulfilling His redemptive promises. (By the way, Isaiah is the prophet quoted more times in the New Testament than any other.)
But not only does Jesus follow God’s calling in His preaching and teaching ministry by Himself, He calls disciples, whom He will train to carry on His mission at the appropriate time. Notice the composition of the group. They are ordinary fishermen, not religious types. It is an indication of how Jesus will lean on regular people to live into a holy calling and do things they never dreamed they would be able to do.
Jesus’ ministry focused on the “kingdom of heaven,” a means by which God’s rule might become more apparent on earth, regardless of the Herods and the Caesars who always assume they are in control. Only Jesus is able to give people what they really need – healing and wholeness.
It’s that sort of work to which we are called today. We are not called to any new ministry; our calling is to carry on what God began in Jesus. When we do, God’s kingdom comes and His will continues to be done, on earth as it always is in heaven.
You don’t have to be special to participate in that work. You just have to be obedient. From Joseph to John the Baptist, to the first disciples, and to me and you, that’s all God requires. He will do the rest.
Matthew 4:12-25 (ESV):
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, those having seizures, 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.