Sermon passage: Matthew 4:12-25
One of the things Taryn and I did on our recent holiday to New Zealand was to visit a weta cave in
Zealandia. The cave was actually an old mine tunnel, cut into a mountain. Taryn, her brother
Nathan and I slowly made our way into the tunnel, using the torches on our phones to try and
avoid the wetness in the middle of the tunnel floor. Coming from the brightness outside, the
tunnel was dark. Our torches didn’t illuminate everything. There were shadows aplenty. A short
way in we came to a locked gate. Nathan, at the front, saw through the gate in the torchlight,
some wetas on the the wall just beyond it. Wetas are very large insects – looking a little bit like
And then, the torch light moved. And we saw that the wetas weren’t just in front of us. No. They
were all around us. The roof was covered with them! Without the torch, we would never have
known. Naturally, we were all somewhat worried…how many wetas were there climbing through
our hair, ready to chomp?
In Matthew 4:12ff, hearing of John the Baptist’s arrest, Jesus leaves the region around the Jordan,
and sets up a base of operations in Capernaum, on the shores of Lake Galilee. Galilee was a
beautiful, fertile part of the world. Added to that, it was on the trade route to the Mediterranean
Sea. But it was the kind of place “real” Jews loved to look down on, given how Gentile-ised it was,
surrounded by gentile nations on three sides, and having had a history of Gentile occupation and
rule. Other Jews might be quick to dismiss it as a “dark place” – a place where the light of God’s
presence was dimmed and in shadow.
But that’s where Jesus goes: into the shadow. He goes to the place where his light will shine most
brightly, preaching and teaching people to repent; to live knowing that God’s kingdom is hanging
just above their heads! (A scary thing if you’re not ready for it… amazing if you are!)
Even a small light can be seen over a long distance on a dark night; Jesus is the light of the world.
Was Galilee the only dark place in Israel? Why did Jesus set up base there? And what are the dark
places of our world where Jesus would have his light shine?
Where God’s light – Jesus – shines, a response is demanded. Will we follow him, and join him on
his mission? Andrew, Peter, John and James had to make a choice. But on what did they base that
choice? Why did they risk their livelihoods to follow Jesus? Will we answer when he calls our
name? Why – or why not? And where does obedience to Jesus’ call to follow him fit into the
economy of our lives. That is, what are we willing to risk for the sake of being with Jesus?
Andrew, Peter, James and John didn’t have a complete understanding of who Jesus was yet, but
they did understand that following him was the wisest, most sensible thing they could do. His
preaching, teaching and healing were evidence to them, and to those he encountered, that Jesus
was worth it all. In presenting the story of Jesus to us, I believe Matthew is forcing us to ask
ourselves that same question: will I follow Jesus too…