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The God Who Speaks: Matthew 4.18-22

During this special Year of the Word: The God Who Speaks, we are going to have a regular series of reflections published on our website which will prompt us to reflect on important passages of St Matthew’s Gospel, and learn more about them. We are very grateful to Dr Natalie Watson, a contemporary theologian and writer, for offering these reflections for our community.


Matthew 4.18–22

The Gospel of Matthew is a kind of textbook for new Christians who are learning what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. That is why many of the passages in the Gospel are set out like short lessons, and why these lessons are often repeated in a slightly different form, so they can be remembered.

In this passage, we read two almost identical stories about two families whose lives are interrupted and changed forever. First there are Peter and his brother Andrew. They are fishermen, and Jesus finds them by the Sea of Galilee going about their daily business catching fish. Jesus says: ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And we are told that this is what they do: they leave their nets, their family business, their livelihood – and their security – and follow Jesus.

And then there are two others, another pair of brothers, James and John. They too are in the fishing trade, and they are mending nets with their father Zebedee. Jesus calls them. ‘Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.’

This is a lesson in discipleship – short and to the point. Being a disciple means following Jesus, listening to his call, and leaving behind what holds us back, so we can do his work – fish for people. In Matthew’s Gospel, this is a short lesson, but one that is important and needs to be repeated, so that it can be remembered. And the reason why it needs to be remembered is that it is not just about two families in the fishing trade by the Sea of Galilee but about each and every one of us. Jesus calls each one of us to follow him and challenges us to leave behind what holds us back.

Jesus, you call each one of us to be your disciple. Help us to hear your call to follow you and to leave behind what holds us back.

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