February 26, Thursday
From there Jesus made His way to His hometown of Nazareth. On the Sabbath He went to the synagogue as usual. He stood up to read the Scripture of the day; and when He was given the scroll, He turned to the prophet Isaiah and read these words:
“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’”
After handing the scroll back to the attendant, He sat down; everyone was watching and waiting to see if He would comment on the passage. He spoke to them and said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled before your very eyes!”
The congregation was amazed at how simply yet profoundly He spoke. They couldn’t get over the fact that this was “Joseph’s son” who had grown up in their neighborhood.
He rebuked them saying, “I know you’re waiting to see Me perform the miracles you’ve been hearing about; but, as the saying goes, ‘no prophet is honored by those he grew up with.’ No, as history records, back in the days of Elijah there was a great famine. There were plenty of widows in Israel, but he was sent to help a Sidonian widow. And in Elisha’s day, while there were many lepers in Israel, none of them was healed — only Naaman, the Syrian.”
Suddenly the mood in the synagogue changed and everyone became furious. They dragged Him toward a cliff at the edge of town, intending to throw Him off; but mysteriously, He walked right through the crowd and got away.
Jesus moved to Capernaum and established that as His home. Capernaum is at the north end of the Sea of Galilee in the regions originally parceled out to Zebulun and Naphtali (two of the original tribes of Israel). Once again, a prophecy from centuries before was being fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people who sat in darkness saw a great light; and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus’ Message was, “Get serious about your life: God’s Kingdom is here.”
One day as He walked near the Sea of Galilee, He noticed Simon Peter and Andrew whom He had met previously. They were fisherman, but Jesus invited them to follow Him, saying, “I will make you fishers of men.” Without hesitation they left their nets and followed Him. Further down the beach they came upon James and John along with their father, Zebedee. They were busy mending nets, but Jesus also invited them to become His followers. They quickly left everything with their father and his hired hands.
Together they went to Capernaum and entered the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus taught the people and they were amazed at how He spoke with such authority, unlike their usual teachers.
On one Sabbath a man who had a demon was in attendance. He shouted at Jesus saying, “Leave us alone! What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who You are: the Holy One from God!”
Jesus rebuked the spirit, telling it to be quiet and to come out of the man. Then the man’s body shook violently. The spirit shrieked and came out of him. After this, Jesus’ teaching and authority were the topic of much conversation throughout Galilee. The people wondered how He could command evil spirits and get them to obey Him with a word.
After the synagogue service Jesus and his followers went to the home of Simon Peter and Andrew, where Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a high fever. They told Jesus about it and asked Him to help. He went to her side, took her hand, and rebuked the fever. Immediately she was healed, got out of bed, and began serving them.
That same evening the whole community showed up at the house where Jesus was staying. They brought all kinds of sick and demon-possessed to Him. He healed them all, laying hands on them and casting out demons with a command. The demons kept shouting, “You are the Messiah, the Son of God!” But Jesus silenced them.
The prophet Isaiah had predicted Jesus’ healing work when he wrote, “He Himself took our infirmities and removed our diseases.”
Jesus got up very early the next morning and went out to a quiet place away from the city where He could pray. Before long, Simon and the others found Him and told Him that everyone was looking for Him. The crowd didn’t want Him to leave, but He explained that He had to preach the Message of God’s Kingdom to the other cities.
He went throughout Galilee preaching, healing, and casting out demons. His fame spread and they kept bringing Him all who had various afflictions. People also came from Syria, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. Soon the crowds were so large He had to get in a boat and teach them from there.
After a while He told Simon to take the boat out further and put in their nets for a catch. Simon retorted with the complaint that they’d been fishing all night and had caught nothing. “But Master, since You say so we’ll try it,” he rather begrudgingly assented.
No sooner had they dropped their nets in than they were teeming with so many fish the nets began to break. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. There were so many fish that when they loaded them into the boats they began to sink.
Simon, who had been fishing that lake all his life, had never seen anything like it. He knew Jesus had caused this. He fell down in front of Him and said, “O Lord, I’m not worthy to have You in my boat. I am too much of a sinner to be around You.”
Jesus reassured him, saying, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you’ll be in the business of catching men.” So as soon as they reached the shore, they left their fishing boats to follow Him.