Monday, May 03, 2010

Having Jesus In Your Heart 8

Matthew 4:12-17
Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
"The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
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."
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

If you have ever moved from one city to another likely you would say it was hard work, expensive, frustrating and inevitably something is broken or lost. So people move for a reason. Recently, many people are moving against their will because of the economy. But when we choose to move, we do so for the benefits that will be gained or because we feel called to do what we are going to do and need to be in the new place. And so we go through the trouble and try as hard as we can to make it happen smoothly.

It must not have been a lot of work for Jesus to move. He packed his bag; literally, THE bag, and then walked the twenty miles from Nazareth to Capernaum. It may have been a rough road in spots, but it was a road. And he had to have a reason to move, a mission to fulfill. And we are told why right away. He had to go to Capernaum to preach because there were many more people there than in Nazareth; because he would not be a prophet in his own city; and because it was prophesied that he would do so.

I wonder what the people who were descendants of Zebulun and Naphtali thought about themselves? For hundreds of years they were told that they were cursed with darkness and dread. Maybe it is like the feeling we have from knowing some people who are about to go into battle and may be killed. We are bothered, irritated, defensive, even angry. I know I have spent time living in darkness and dread. And when it gets to be normal, it is like I am accepting my fate, the bad karma that is to be expected in this life.

So I am striving to imagine the feeling the people of Capernaum had when Jesus came along saying he had the light; that the prophesied cure is here! Perhaps this is how I am reacting to Jesus when he says to me through his Word: “Repent! The kingdom of heaven is near! I can heal you!”

That’s what Jesus and his newly chosen disciples were telling people. And Jesus was not only saying it, but doing miracles that convinced all who saw it or were healed themselves.

It seems from this that our best course of action is to get excited when we hear an idea from the Word and take it on as a belief despite our feelings. Whenever we are afraid of something, we can go hear the Lord speak. Whenever we feel forced to do something, or catch ourselves doing something we don’t want to do, or are stopped from doing something we ought to be doing, we can read the Word looking for the ways the Lord heals us. The Lord has many helpers still in the world. We can listen to them and allow them to help us ask the Lord for help.

Jesus Christ invites us to make a move with him. Move from the unconscious, small world of maintaining the status quo. Walk with him to the bustling metropolis seaport of useful activity in a mission of service to others and to the Lord. Only then will you actually learn what repentance is. Here is a hint: it is not sitting in the cold and dark, bemoaning one’s evilness. It is living in the warm sunshine that Jesus Christ provides, being fully aware of the past, and being full engaged in the present. Yes, Jesus tells us what sin is, and that we are guilty. And then he says: move away from there, and live a new life of health and joy!