Faithlife Sermons

A Disciple's Call

Matthew   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The Call

After his move to Galillee, Jesus had moved from the city of Nazereth, to the more southern area of the region and not close to the sea of Galillee, to Capernaum, a city on the northern coast of the sea. Along this are various towns from which Jesus will call his first disciples.
First we look at the call itself, which in Matthew’s account is pithy and to the point. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” We can break down this short phrase and understand exactly what Jesus was asking of these Galillean fishermen.

“Me”, what these men know about Jesus

With the quick way that Matthew goes through the calling the the disciples, you would not be blamed to think that this is the first time Jesus met these men. Perhaps you’ve thought, as I did, that these men followed Jesus out of some mystical sense of calling. The moral of the story is not that we should follow anyone who tells us to if we feel that its right. These men knew who was calling them when Jesus said, “Follow me.”
The first thing that is relavant for us to know about these men is that two of them were previously disciples of John the Baptist (John 1:35-42). Andrew was one and we can speculate that John was perhaps the other, since he remains unnamed as John often avoids naming himself in his gospel. So not only did Andrew and Peter, and likely James and John, already know Jesus, they had already followed him as his disciples (John 3:22-23).
So it seems that after the death of John the Baptist, the disciples had gone back to their previous occupation of fishing along the Sea of Gallilee, near Bethsaida where Andrew and Peter were from.
So when they recieve this call from Jesus, they had already seen him turn water into wine, seen him baptize, and heard him utter prophetic sayings. Andrew and John had also heard John the Baptist, who they were following as their Rabbi at the time, declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. As disciple’s of John, they had listened to his message to be prepared for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven and had been baptized into repentance prepared for the coming Messiah.
So as we read this calling, we should keep in mind that the men Jesus is calling have all the information they need to know that Jesus is the true son of God and should be followed.

“Follow me” the nature of the calling

Since these four men knew who Jesus was and had all the evidence to know that Jesus was the Son of God, the Saviour of Israel. They had heard the John’s testimony, they had seen miracles, they had heard him speak prophetically. Now that they are back at their occupation after the arrest of John, Jesus takes the short journey from Capernaum to Bethsaida where Andrew and Simon Peter are fishing, having returned to their livlihood. Although they had been following Jesus, even as disciples, it appears that it was a temporary following that may have been ended by a surprise persecution of John the Baptist.
Jesus comes by their boats, they recognize him, and he commands them to follow him. What exactly is he asking them that would make this following different from the last time they were following him?
It is a call to believe in him.
It is a call to obedience.
It is a call to self-denial.
It is a call to die.

The Promise “Make you Fishers of men”

In calling these men to be his disciples, Jesus was not simply calling them to go for a walk with him down the beach, or even to go with him on his mission to hear what he’s going to say and see what he is going to do. He is calling them in order to make them something other than Gallilean fishermen, they are going to become fishers of men.
Jeremiah 16:16 ESV
“Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.
In this passage, Jeremiah explains how God is going to bring his poeple out of the wilderness through these fishers and hunters he would call to find them from the hardest to reach places on earth. This elite group of hunter/gatherers is what Jesus is inviting his disciples to participate in. Not because of a skill that they themselves already possess. Jesus wasn’t looking for people who would “make” good fishers of men. Instead, he tells them that if they follow him, he will give them the ability to fish for men. The ability originates in the one who calls, not in those he calls.
Just like David, a shepherd, was called to a much greater task that was metaphorically associated with shepherding, these disciples are called from fishing to be those that God will use to bring his true people, his elect, that suffering remnant, to himself.
Being called to fish for men is a noble task that is both rewarding and worthwhile.
The call to fish for men is in contrast with what they are currently doing. He’s not saying, “follow me when you’re done fishing, or whenever you have some free time to do so.” Calling them to fish for men is not calling them to an after-fishing hobby. If I say to a someone mining coal, “follow me and I will show you where you can mine gold,” they aren’t going to say, “sure, just as soon as I’m done mining this coal. Maybe I’ll have some spare time on the weekend.” No, you leave the coal mine and spend your time learning how to get the more valuable resource. If you work at Mcdonalds and get the offer to apprentice at a wealthy business firm you don’t keep flipping burgers. Jesus is offering a greater occupation over fishing for fish and the call is to follow him full time.

The Response

We may note two things about the response of these men to Jesus’ calling.


Boats, nets, and family


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