Jesus announces the good news
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’
Jesus calls his first disciples
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
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“The kingdom of God has come near.”
What did Jesus mean by this?
Did he mean the restoration of Israel by the Messiah who would usher in the rule of God?
Two thousand years have passed and the latest nation of Israel shows little sign of living under the rule of God, so he probably didn’t mean this.
Did he mean that heaven was coming soon for all who kept the faith?
Again, no, probably not. Life has continued without the drama of an apocalypse followed by heaven for the believers.
So what did he mean?
Possibly he meant that the kingdom of God could come in the heart of each one of us. After all, when he taught us to pray, he said “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Whenever we pray those words, we are saying “Rule over my life, Father”; or “Your kingdom come in my heart; your will be done by me.”
This fits with the response of the disciples. When Jesus called them to follow him, they did so without delay. They dropped their regular daily tasks and became Jesus’ disciples. Being a disciple of Jesus is primarily a question of faith. If we have faith, then God’s kingdom lives in our hearts.
This shows in our lives, as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. (Galatians 5: 22 – 23)
But what is faith?
Let me give you a worldly example. I have read that walking 10,000 steps every day boosts the immune system. I believe the medical science that says this. But 10,000 steps represents nearly two hours exercise; time when I could be doing something else. I have chosen to make that commitment to exercise, and I do it diligently. Rain or shine, I walk five miles every day. Agreeing mentally with the medical science is belief. Getting out and doing the exercise is faith.
The disciples understood that distinction. When Jesus called them to follow him, they obeyed immediately. They understood that it would be costly, but they didn’t hesitate; they acted.
It’s when we act that we grow as Christians.
Thank you for calling me to be a follower of Jesus. Please help me to listen to you, and do what you command.
In Jesus’ name, Amen