Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward 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 preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25)
The public ministry of Jesus Christ begins. A ministry that brought forth the light and truth of salvation. A ministry that called each of us to live the message He preached.
Why did that message resonate with so many over the last 2,000 plus years? Because it spoke to our nature and our longings. Because it was, and is, a message that speaks to our hearts. Because it was, and is, a message that speaks of peace, of hope and promise. As we enter 2021, it is a message that we need and should hold dear.
We need to hear the good news of peace – the Lord comes to reconcile and restore us to friendship with God. We need to hear the good news of hope – the Lord comes to dwell with us and to give us a home with him in his heavenly kingdom. We need to hear the good news of promise – Jesus fulfills the promise of God to reward those who seek him with the treasure of heaven. We need to hear the good news of salvation – the Lord Jesus delivers us from every fear, every sin, and every obstacle that would keep us from entering his everlasting kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.
But to internalize that good news, we need to inculcate and act on the word. Can we do that in today’s world? Yes but. But first we have to turn toward Him. Where? In His words as they occur in our life. It doesn’t happen once but over and over. We need to empty ourselves of anger, divisiveness and despair. It can happen and it will. We have been there before.
Our entire life is a conversion. We are always being converted, shaped and formed, into the likeness of Jesus. Over and over again Jesus comes to us saying, “Follow me.”
Following Jesus does not happen in the abstract but in the context, circumstances, and relationships of our lives. Our relationship with Jesus is grounded and experienced in the people and events of our lives and world. Just as it was for Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
Every one of those moments echo with Jesus’ words, “Follow me.” Every one of those is as much a turning point in the lives of Peter, Andrew, James, and John as was the day Jesus first saw them by the Sea of Galilee. Turning points always resound with the invitation to follow Jesus. They are the intersection of our lives and His life.
The turning points of our lives bring us face to face with Jesus and they come in lots of ways. Sometimes they come as we planned, worked, and hoped for. Other times they are completely unexpected and take us by surprise. Sometimes they bring us joy and gladness. Other times we are filled with sorrow and loss. Sometimes they affirm everything we thought and believed. Other times they leave us confused and not knowing what we believe.
The turning points bring us to another point in our lives. They convert what was into a new something that is.
With each turning point we see ourselves, others, and the world differently, we think differently, we focus on different concerns, we ask different questions, and we move in different direction. What they all have in common, however, is Jesus’ invitation, his command, to follow him. An opportunity for and the promise of Christ to refashion our lives. To refashion our lives by following Him with a sincere heart and a truthful life.
That refashioning occurs every time allow His Word to penetrate our minds and hearts. Jesus’ words must fill us with Himself for He is the Great Light of Truth.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, your ways are life and light! Let your word penetrate my heart and transform my mind that I may see your power and glory. Help me to choose your ways and to do what is pleasing to you.”
Reflect, today, upon this exhortation from our Lord to repent. Repent with your whole heart. Examining your actions every day is essential. See the ways that your actions keep you from God and reject those actions. And look for the ways that God is active in your life and embrace those acts of mercy.
Do not only think about Him saying this many years ago; rather, hear it said to you, today, tomorrow and every day of your life. There will never be a time in your life when you do not need to repent with all your heart. We will never reach perfection in this life, so repentance must be our daily mission.