Matthew 4:12-25; Luke 5:1-11; John 1:35-42
So He leaves the wilderness and comes among us. Can you feel what it was like, those early days, when He first began to heal? The boy you have known from childhood who could barely walk, now running. The old man who hasn’t left his bed for years, lifting his eyes to the sunshine. The despairing mama laughing. Twisted limbs straightened. Disease vanished. Blind eyes opened.
He comes so unexpectedly. The people are waiting for a prophet and a king, a man of power and influence. But Jesus threw all that aside in the wilderness. Instead, He finds a little corner of the world and gets to work. He talks with old women and little children, eats with peasants, welcomes the unclean, preaches from a fishing boat.
He does not come as anyone expects Him to. He is not here to save them from oppressive governments or corrupt leaders or religious persecution. He comes to mend. He touches their need, heals them at the most intimate level, and this astonishes them. “Repent,” He says, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and then He confirms it is so. He brings the kingdom right into their sickness.
These fishermen start following him around. He gets to know them, asks them what they are looking for, and then He shows them. He fills their nets to bursting with bounty beyond their imagining, then says to them, “Follow Me.”
Follow Me, because the kingdom is here, and it is not wealth or success or ease. The kingdom of heaven is with Me, and I came to be with.
This Jesus, He is light come into the darkness. He does not wait for the darkness to get less dark. He does not wait to make sure the sick truly repent before touching them. He does not create a space and hope we will enter it. He comes, right among us, holding out hope, and says, “I have a better way. The only way.” After all, why would anyone want to turn from their own way unless they are turning to something better?
I think of those fishermen, hauling in nets teeming with fish, hearts awash with amazement. Jesus offered them more than fish…but first He met them right there on the shores of their everyday lives. Have I experienced Him this tangibly, that I am willing to leave everything and follow? Am I willing to go with Him into the everyday pain of the people around me, touching the wounds?
I wonder if I am offering something better. If what I hold in my hands is the hope of Him, or if it is something else, an agenda driven by my pride or an inner emptiness I am trying to fill. I wonder what He would say here and now, with us in this moment. With me.