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January 21

Matthew 4, 18-22

Something to read

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately, they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

There is so much in this story that we don’t know. How well did Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John know Jesus ahead of this lakeside meeting that changed their lives forever?

Was this the culmination of a whole series of encounters, and had word of Jesus begun to spread in ways that meant his invitation, and their response, was less dramatic and instantaneous? And where did following him take them? Away from home and their boats and livelihood for ages, or for a series of brief journeys with many returns to home and family and security? It is hard to know.

But that isn’t the story Matthew tells. Matthew wants us to feel the abruptness of the call and the risk of their responses. If we let ourselves stay with what Matthew presents we’re left with the impression of the enormity of following Jesus. The disciples’ "Yes" overturns everything, strips away the familiar life and launches them into an unknowable future.

It is a "Yes" that echoes the experiences of many in the Bible who find God calling them to begin a new life without security, insurance and detailed planning. God’s "Follow me" tends to always be radical and unnerving. But notice, too, that part of what makes it possible for these four fishermen to join Jesus as he turns his back upon the shore is that there are four of them.

Their "Yes" is both deeply personal, and shared. They are asked much, but they are given from the outset companions with whom to share the burden of following. And Jesus also gains companions in this moment. His mission becomes shared ministry, each sharing for others along the way.

Something to do

Find a good spot and time to be still with God and yourself today. Think about someone you might be a good companion too as a follower of Jesus today. They might be a person in your church or a friend or family member. Maybe you work with them.

What could you do to help them feel supported in their own walk with Christ? Pray for them. And is there something more that you can do to bring your prayer to life?

Something to pray

You, Jesus, know all about the sharing of friends and the journey with companions.
You do not walk your journey alone,
and nor should we.
Faithfulness is a shared and accompanied adventure.
So help us to support each other today.
Help us to notice when someone else’s footsteps falter or are heavy with burdens.
And give us gentle wisdom to know how to walk alongside someone else,
and to help them bear their load.

Today's contributor is the Rev Neil Thorogood, Principal of Westminster College, Cambridge


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