Matthew 4:12-25 (ESV)
12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
After Jesus successfully resisted the devil’s temptations, he began his public ministry. When he learned that John the Baptist had been arrested, he left his hometown of Nazareth and went to Capernaum, which basically became the center hub or station of his ministry. Although we might expect Jesus to do the bulk of his three-year ministry in Jerusalem, he actually spent most of his time in the scorned region of Galilee, where both Nazareth and Capernaum were located. This fulfilled the prophecy that the prophet Isaiah foretold about seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth that the Messiah would bring light to those in Galilee. Jesus came for the Jew first and then the Gentile, and Galilee contained a mixture of both people groups. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus by preaching repentance, and Jesus picked up where John left off, preaching the same message of repentance. Jesus then called those who were to be his disciples and asked them to leave their lifestyles and follow after him. They would no longer throw out nets for fish, but fish for men instead.
Jesus assembled his team, and they accompanied him through the land while he taught, preached, and healed. The signs he performed authenticated his words and his message. It was time for the nation of Israel to receive her Messiah. It can be hard to get through this passage without being struck by the way Andrew, Peter, James, and John responded to Jesus’ call. Twice, the text uses the word “immediately” (vv. 20 and 22). Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “immediately” as “occurring, acting, or accomplished without loss or interval of time.” When Jesus called his followers, they responded right away. They left their livelihoods and even their father to obey the Lord’s call on their lives. Jesus asks us, as his present-day disciples, to follow him too. How quickly do we respond to the call of the Spirit of Christ in our lives? Do we delay and wonder what will happen with our family or our finances? Or is our obedience to his commands instantaneous, without loss or interval of time? These men didn’t delay, and we shouldn’t either. What is Jesus asking you to do (or not do) right now? In whatever it is, submit to him without hesitation! May we, like these first disciples, be known for our immediate obedience when it comes to following our Lord.