Lectionary Reflection: Matthew 4: 12-23: Calling

I have been working with a transitional ministry at a prominent local church over these last two years.  Given the economy and the number of people out of work, it is a drastic need.  In the course of these by-monthly meetings, I have heard numerous speakers: recruiters, career, business and life coaches, outplacement people, human resource experts, business men and women and etc. 

I will start posting – Mondays – on this forum from my volumes of “notes from the experts.”  I know there are some readers who need this sort of help.  I also know there are ministers and others who might well find these notes helpful in their own programs – or even to start such a program.


If you listen long enough and close enough to the experts you will hear certain themes reoccur.  One theme is one we know very well (or knew once) in the church.  I have heard if called by many names, but we always referred to it as “calling.”  What is his calling?  What is she called to do?  You see, we believe that every human being is called, gifted and empowered by God to accomplish his work in the world.  Certainly, those skills and natural talents are God’s gift to us for use in work, at play and in both personal and public life.  We are all unique, and this is one of the reasons why.

The passage today is about just such calling, and it begins with the calling of Jesus.  Yes, Jesus.  I understand the common telling of this story is to describe the call of Simon and Andrew, James and John, and say how they left everything to follow Jesus.  This is generally concluded with the rather lame (more politically “churchy” correct = more lame) “And what have we given up to follow Jesus?”

I have heard a sermon or two about the actual ministry that Jesus began (and have penned one or two in that direction).  This is an avenue worth pursuing.  How have we changed the story since “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?”  Think about it.

But here, in the case of calling, we ought to look first at the calling of Jesus, because he was called first.

Have you kept the congregation up-to-date?

Jesus’ calling was known from the beginning.  The angel told Mary and Joseph both who Jesus was and what he would do.  This remarkable calling was confirmed by the elderly man and woman in the temple when he was a baby.  It was confirmed again when he submitted to the baptism of John.  The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove settled on him and the voice from Heaven said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”  (No, don’t count on the Holy Spirit flitting to your shoulder while the voice says, “This is my Information Technology Specialist in whom I am well pleased,” but you never know).

Then what happened?  He got driven into the wilderness for a time of trial and testing.  This was character formation stuff – sort of like being out of work.

Then he moved out of the house.  This is important and often overlooked.  He moved to Capernum to get away from mom and the siblings.  Once a person knows their calling and has gone through the wringer, it is important to establish themselves in their own territory.  Then begins the calling.  Imagine if every 26-year-old had to move out of the house…

By the time Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James and John to discipleship, he knew what they would face.  True, they did not get put through their wringer until the crucifixion, but after running that crucible, they moved out and the rest, as some say, is history.


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