CMC Eps 11 – MATTHEW 4: 18-25 – A DAY AT THE BEACH




Podcast #11. Matthew 4:18-25

Hi.. I’m Gene Ort.. and you’re listening to the common man commentary..

This is podcast #11..  We will be looking at MATTHEW 4:18-25 with some help from Luke.

The Title for this podcast is  : “ A Day at the Beach ”

Reading now from the message version

“Walking along the beach of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.

A short distance down the beach they came upon another pair of brothers, James and John, Zebedee’s sons. These two were sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their fishnets. Jesus made the same offer to them, and they were just as quick to follow, abandoning boat and father.

From there he went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God’s kingdom was his theme—that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. Word got around the entire Roman province of Syria. People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all. More and more people came, the momentum gathering. Besides those from Galilee, crowds came from the “Ten Towns” across the lake, others up from Jerusalem and Judea, still others from across the Jordan.”

Matthew 4:18-25 MSG

First of all..I really like the idea of Jesus taking a leisurely stroll along a beach. I have spent a little time at a beach on the Sea of fascinates me to think i may have actually walked where he walked.. He was not in a hurry.. Yes, he had a mission.. there was a lot to do.. but.. he took a walk on the beach.   This is a great way for his ministry to begin.

So here we go.. 

Andrew, is reported to be the first disciple of Jesus. You have to look to the gospel of John 1:41 for that information. Andrew had also been a disciple of John B. He was present when he made his famous proclamation : “ Behold.. the lamb of God come to save the world “ . In verse 39, it states that Andrew and someone else was actually walking behind Jesus, when Jesus turned around and asked them: “ what are you after ? “ they answered “rabbi, where are you staying ?” Jesus replied.. “come and see for yourself “.   Later on, Andrew found his brother simon, aka Peter and told him he had found the messiah and took him to meet Jesus.  It was the very next day that the actual invitation to follow Jesus was extended… Jesus was on his way to Galilee. Andrew, Peter and another friend who became a disciple named Philip were all living near the lake in a little fishing village called Bethsaida. The ruins are still there.

So, Why did Jesus pick these young men and not some boys from Jerusalem state university..   ? There was a very sophisticated educational system already in place. It was typical for a young Jewish boy to go off to school to study at age six. If he couldn’t cut it, meaning he could not memorize the Torah, the first five books of the law, then he would be sent back home to the family business, which was in this case fishing. These boys had already flunked out of school. They’re were not by any bodies standards, high achievers. 

They were .. ordinary..

The ordinary.. who wants to be referred to as ordinary ? Go ahead.. try it.. let me know how that goes. Or, is ordinary really extraordinary in disguise ? Are there really any ordinary people ?

Jesus seems to just pickup who ever happened to be in his path on his morning walk by the lake. Not very picky or selective .. In our world today, we hire head hunters and go to great extremes to sift out only the brightest and the best to work with us. And this is not just the practice of major corporations, its often the practice of institutionalized religious organizations as well. They hire the best.. and at the first sign of a flaw, they fire the best.      Performance and measurable productivity are paramount. It’s about the metrics.

So where do I fit into this story ?  If I would have been there, would he have picked me ? Would I have followed ?  Here is where you can insert your name in the story.

I call this podcast the common man commentary…. and I believe that is what it is.. its not meant to be something demeaning, its just the truth. We are all common men and women in many respects. I have heard it said that we all put our pants on one leg at a time. That’s not to say we all do the same things, thats clearly not true. It’s not a measurement of our gifted ness or our talents. It’s also not a measurement of achievement, and how you chose to define that. How we answer that question will be of primary concern as we begin to move more into the teachings of Jesus.

As for how we assess people, assess being the kind word for judge, there was a lot of talk when I was young about IQ, Intelligence Quotient … I remember it well…  being tested in elementary school. I was given the impression, that my number was not all that high. I don’t know what it is.. and I don’t want to know. It’s just another way to either make me feel smaller than I already do about myself or a way to feel superior to somebody else and feed my narcissistic tendencies. Both of which are insecurities finding different ways of expression. Neither do me any favors.

Then there is the new-ish measurement, EQ or Emotional Quotient.. actual definition is Emotional intelligence. I took a test a few years back that I found in a book that was centered around the idea of why do you act and think and feel in a particular way. In this test, I scored pretty high in life skills until it got to emotional intelligence. I weighed in as a solid 12 year old. That explained a lot ! The book was titled “emotionally healthy spirituality”.  In years since then, I have learned that emotional intelligence is not necessarily a fixed and unchangeable attribute like your height for example. My EQ being that of a 12 year old made perfect sense once I realized that my emotional development was frozen in place in junior high when my family of origin exploded. The healthy emotional development that should have takin place normally was cut off by extreme circumstances. The psychological world refers to my situation at the time as parentification.  It’s what happens when you are forced to pretend you are grown up long before you are actually mature. The good news about this is, as an adult, you can “ re-parent” yourself. 

So, why all this self awareness chatter? I thought we were talking about The Bible ! 

Jesus is doing the school yard pick, only he is picking the least qualified to save the world ! This is very revealing about the true character of Jesus.. who is said to be God with us.. the truest reflection of the nature of God the world has ever seen. 

I feel pretty at home here. I have no pedigree. No qualifications. And if you are listening to this podcast, we have at least on thing in common, we are interested in understanding more about what it means to follow Jesus. We may not have heard the call to leave the family business behind, but we will have to leave something behind. It could be any number of things. The list is long. For some its a sorted past full of regrets of all kinds. For others is an addiction to a religious mindset handed down from generation to generation. But you can be sure of will have to let go of some kind of “wrong thinking “.   

I am extremely grateful to John for giving us a bit more detail to the story. Matthew in this case is in a get right to the point mindset. John wants us to experience more of the humanity thats going on here. Matthew makes it seem a little to easy.. the boys see Jesus and Bam ! they walk away from everything without a second thought. Instant devotion! Unbridled commitment.  No doubts whatsoever. That can be a little discouraging to me. I have not always found it easy to follow Jesus. Some things I have held unto,  I have had to learn how to let go of. It’s takin time.. decades in fact.  It will become obvious in the coming chapters that the disciples were very human.. their immaturity will show up in great clarity. This again, makes me even more comfortable identifying with them.

One thing I do think is clear and will get clearer. Jesus is extraordinary ! Being in His presence will prove to be mesmerizing and life altering. They are compelled. Even though they don’t learn everything as fast as you would think they would, they stay. Most of them do not turn away until the very end, when the fear of death overwhelms them.

There is something about Jesus that seems to speak to their hearts like nothing else they have every experienced. That is very special and important to me. Jesus is compelling. When you see Him for who He really is, there is a dynamic pull toward him. The common, ordinary people seem to get it a little easier than the high achievers and the religious elite who in a way think that they have already arrived. Those who have experienced a deep brokenness and intense loss seem to embrace Jesus quicker and deeper. Jesus’s care and empathy speak to them clearly and his love for them is easily received. 

I love that Jesus speaks to these early disciples about their purpose immediately. You used to be fisherman, catching fish , fish to feed their bodies.. I will teach you to gather people, you will give them something that will feed their souls and give them real life. . Gathering people sounds to close to what i heard in my early days of Christianity. That was a sort of forced evangelical, door to door mentality that racked up Jesus points. What i really believe now is much closer to Jesus saying.. I will teach you how to bring people into the Kingdom of God, where they will be healed and loved into wholeness and complete humanity. 

So it starts..Jesus and a few young men start walking around Galilee while Jesus teaches in the synagogues. You might wonder how he did that. It turns out that its built into the Jewish culture in the synagogues that a perfect stranger is allowed to stand up and speak in a meeting. And thats exactly what Jesus did. His two favorite topics..  The true nature of God and His Kingdom. 

Looking a bit more closely at the word’s “Jesus teaches”.  

I’m not exactly sure where I got this sub conscious idea but somewhere along the way of my Christian journey I got the notion that when I became Christian, I would magically and forever be changed into someone much better than I was before. A lot like downloading a new operating system.  Some coder, tech-y person somewhere writes the code.. I tell my system to update.. and bam.. I’m a whole new me. Mind you,nothing else in life seems to indicate that that is true, but somehow I kept being massively disappointed when my behaviors stayed remarkably the same as they were before I started my Christian journey.

Then it happened.. I saw this phrase…”Jesus teaches”..and it dawned on me.. He taught, because we need to be taught. Learning is God’s idea. It’s the process, starting at birth and never ending. 

There is no other place in life where we expect to just “ know stuff” without the due process and pain of learning. Intellectual understanding comes through a wide variety of sources and all of them fall under the umbrella of education in some way. Emotional understanding might be a little different in that we have to analyze what we are feeling, why we are feeling it, is it true? Is it real ? Will I react or respond ? As children of skilled parents, we get coached from an early age about our emotions, learning to name them and tame them. If you end up having to learn emotional stability as an adult, you have to coach yourself with the help of spouses, friends, books, therapists etc.  

It is a certainty, we need to be taught.. but we also need to be healed.

And Jesus healed the people.. of everything that that was wrong with them. Physical, Mental and emotional ailments of every kind. That news got around fast. Jesus was instantly famous, and no wonder.  

Right this minute, we, and by that I mean the whole world, is caught up in a Pandemic. Coved-19, The corona virus. It’s almost all people are talking about. It is causing the whole of the world to pause and take notice. It’s not unusual to check the internet several times a day for how many people who have been infected and how many have died and where has it spread now ? It has truly captured everyone’s attention. The best scientists and medical professionals of the world are working around the clock to find anything that could possibly slow it down or kill it. The leaders of every country are in a scramble to figure out the best way to navigate through this crisis.

Imagine for a moment what would happen if a person came along who could heal us all of this deadly disease with a mere word or touch! In our media driven culture of today, you would hear about nothing else. In a way, that’s what happened to Jesus. There was not internet, no smart phones.. but its all people could talk about..  did you hear.. ? There is a man in Galilee who can heal you of what ever disease you have.. or what ever is wrong with you ! He was all people could talk about in the region of Syria. 

The great needs of the human race..  

The Truth.. about who we are and who God is and what is His plan for us.

And that is what Jesus was doing.   Bringing truth and clarity about who God really is and what He is like.

To emphasize what The Kingdom of God is like, he showed them healing.

Healing of everything broken.  That is the plan, and it is on going.  

In one sense, that makes the Kingdom of God present right now in Jesus. In another sense, we are waiting for the fullness of that Kingdom.

The picture of that Kingdom is lived out in Jesus. Jesus Christ, Jesus The King. 

Well thats enough to think about for now..

Until next time ..  I am Gene Ort and Thank you for listening to the common man commentary. 

I’D LIKE TO LEAVE YOU WITH This “ blessing :

Love God. Love Yourself. Love the next person He puts in front of you.