Showing posts with label Capernaum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Capernaum. Show all posts

20 June 2013

Jesus makes a start

Leaders in the church, Part 10
< Jesus is tempted | Index | Back to front truth >

Matthew tells us how Jesus began his ministry by moving to a new town. Like him, we need to find the right time and the right place to proclaim the good news. Like him it's essential that we demonstrate good news as well as speaking about it as widely as possible.

Walking on the shore of Galilee
Walking on the shore of Galilee
Jesus leaves Judaea following John's arrest and returns to the region of Galilee.

He moves away from his home in Nazareth and goes to live in Capernaum instead, then he begins to preach his message about the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 4:12-25).

Isn't it striking that until this time he has done nothing but construction work for thirty years?

Often described as a carpenter, it's likely his work included more than that. He was a constructor and a repairer; if you think about it those were very appropriate tasks for someone who would later construct and repair relationships between the Creator and his creation.

A time and place for everything - At the right time and in the right place he begins his work as a leader. And what a leader! Here is the King of Kings beginning to speak into the world and reveal the redemptive purpose of Yahweh in an altogether new and more dynamic way.

How often do we speak and work in the wrong place and at the wrong time? Usually we will speak whenever and wherever we have the chance. But if we are truly going to be like Christ we must learn to be much more cautious, listening to the Spirit for guidance and doing and saying what he shows us at the time and place of his choosing.

But there's more here for us as leaders. How is it that in verse 16 the 'people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light'? Like Jesus, we must live among the people. It's difficult to reach people who are strangers to us. Jesus goes, moves to a new town, and lives there. If we are going to lead we need to first get in amongst the people we need to reach and allow our light to shine there.

Missional and incarnational - Alan Hirsch considers we need a missional impulse (going out from where we are), and an incarnational impulse (living amongst those we are sent to reach). Only when these are in place can we expect to reach the hearts of the people in meaningful ways that they can accept. Isn't this exactly how Jesus began his service, in Galilee, after John's arrest? He came with a mission and he came to live among us to do it.

And in living there and walking by the sea he sees Simon (known as 'Rocky') and Andrew and comments on what they are doing in such a way that they accept his invitation to follow. He collects James and John in the same way. Now they are a band of five.

And at this point he begins to travel throughout the region, teaching in the synagogues, sharing the gospel, healing the sick, and becoming famous. His ministry is under way! Notice how he has gone out from his home locality (Nazareth) responding to a missional impulse and then settles in Capernaum (responding to an incarnational impulse).

Perhaps he lived there for a period of time, we don't know how long. He might even have taken on construction and renovation work. So Simon, Andrew, James and John were not strangers when he called them to follow him, they lived in Capernaum and would have seen him and spoken with him before, perhaps often.

Speak and act in ways that bless - Matthew 4:23-25 fills in the detail on what Jesus did as he travelled around Galilee. He taught, proclaimed, and healed the sick and the oppressed. People came from miles around, from Judaea, and the Ten Towns and from beyond the Jordan too.

Just as Jesus made disciples out of the people around him, so can we. Potential disciples surround us, all the time. But we must speak to them. And, just like Jesus, we need to bring good news, not only talk about it. Jesus brought good news in the form of healing, freedom and grace. He blessed people. He was kind.

If you aspire to lead, follow his example!

Questions:

  • Are there people in your area with needs? (eg Elderly, sick, struggling to manage, poor)
  • Can you think of ways you might bring something good to such people?
  • Who is more likely to listen, someone who knows and likes you, or a stranger?
  • Jesus hung out with people, where could you go to do that?

See also:


< Jesus is tempted | Index | Back to front truth >

03 November 2012

Israel and the need for reconciliation

A report about a Palestinian Christian sparks thoughts of reconciliation and encouragement between Arabs and Jews in the land of Israel. We consider what we can do, individually, to take this essential process forward.

Speaking in the Capernaum synagogueThe Archbishop Cranmer blog recently had a guest post about the problems between Israel and the Palestinians, in particular claiming that we are hearing much less than the whole truth about the Palestinian side.

The article, by Anglican Friends of Israel, involves some analysis and examines the reasons that ordinary Palestinians might wish to be very circumspect in what they say, especially to Western media.

A personal story - But what struck me most powerfully was the story of a Palestinian Christian woman who has decided to speak out. Her name cannot be revealed for obvious reasons, but her story is outlined in the full article and she is clearly a very brave person. She has been speaking to meetings in the UK recently, helping to expose the false reports so readily accepted by some churches in the West.

It's most important that stories like this are told and shared widely. That's why I've decided to pass the information on to everyone who reads 'Journeys of heart and mind'. Some extracts from the article are quoted below, but I encourage you to visit the original and read it for yourself in full.

Many of us suspected that [the] romantic picture of bravery and harmony in the face of brutal oppression concealed a much darker reality but it was hard to prove as Palestinians largely kept silent. To be sure, some clues couldn’t be missed – the murder of Bible Society employees in Gaza, the sack of Bible Society and YMCA property in the West Bank.

Back in 2007 when the Gaza murder was still raw, my wife and I were invited to a meeting to hear the widow of the victim speak. She very bravely told us her story. Some dozens of us, Palestinian followers of Isa (Jesus) and European believers met together for prayer, to talk, sing and to share a meal. It was a very special day, an occasion I will never forget.

Fr Nazaih, the long-time parish priest of Ramallah, the capital of the West Bank [said], “…Little by little the Christians leave because they cannot live with the Muslims. There are some fanatics who do not like the fact that we exist.”
...
One of the most courageous women I have ever met spoke ... about her life as a Christian Palestinian in the West Bank. Her life and family members have been threatened because she has dared to break the conspiracy of silence that permits too many Christians to retain a rose-coloured vision of life on the West Bank.
The original article goes into her story in some detail.

What can I do? - Let's think for a moment about our role in all this - our role as believers living in the West. How do we deal with deceit, especially when it is widely promulgated as fact? We do need to keep speaking the truth and doing it in love, not from an angry, vengeful heart. But apart from spreading the truth whenever and however we can, we also need to provide whatever practical help we can.

One way to do this is to work through organisations like 'The Joseph Storehouse' who provide help to Jewish and Arab families facing hardship in Israel, or 'The Olive Tree Reconciliation Fund' (OTRF) who work so hard to build reconciliation and trust between Arab and Jew in Israel.

There are many more good and exciting stories out there. Julia Fisher, director of OTRF and a broadcaster in the UK, has written a series of books about much that has been happening in and around Israel encouraging so many across the divide. I strongly recommend buying a copy of her first book, 'Israel: The Mystery of Peace'. The true stories it contains will lift your spirit and warm your heart. Take it from me - they will! It's also very worthwhile spending some time looking through the pages of the OTRF website.

Israel is not a lost cause. How could we even begin to think such a thing! This land is so beautiful, so historic, and above all so special in the sight of the Father and of the Son. Even for those with a purely worldly view of history and geography, this is a special place. Harmony and reconciliation are possible here - possible but not easy. It is well worth making the effort.

Questions:
  • Have you visited Israel? If so, did you have an opportunity to speak with ordinary local people (Jews and Arabs)?
  • Are there ways you could help the reconciliation process? Visit some of the links on this page and see if there are things you can do.
  • If there is no reconciliation in Israel, what do you think the result will be?
  • Should reconciliation be primarily a political process or can it begin at a more personal level?

See also:

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