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Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ’
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you”,
and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’
Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.” ’
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.’
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Following the huge affirmation at his baptism Jesus is led off for a period of solitude to reflect on what his mission is, and isn’t. Three times he avoids the temptation to take the easy route, and so sets his course for the coming years.

Prudently retreating from the now-dangerous Jerusalem area, he takes on John’s mantle: the message of repentance is exactly what John was preaching (see yesterday’s reading). Matthew takes the chance to remind us of the prophetic background to Jesus ministry, and then relates the calling of the first apostles.

Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John are the core of the twelve – or at least Peter, James and John are. Those are the three Jesus takes with him at some of the most important points, as we will find later. What must Andrew have thought about that, I wonder? Perhaps we can feel sidelined by others – more talented, or maybe just more extrovert – but Andrew was just as key to Jesus’ mission for all that he wasn’t front-and-centre, and that’s true for us, too.

(The stained glass is in Great Staughton parish church. It depicts Jesus with the four fishermen and their traditional symbols.)

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