Summary: EPIPHANY 3(A) - With the words, "Come, follow me" Christ challenges every Christian to believe wholeheartedly God’s word and to follow wholeheartedly Jesus’ call.

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Matthew 4:12-23 - January 25, 2004

MATTHEW 4:12-23

12When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. 13Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali-- 14to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

15"Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-- 16the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."

17From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

18As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 20At once they left their nets and followed him.

21Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:

In our earthly living we face challenges. The fact is from time to time you and I might even enjoy challenges. Challenges test our ability to accomplish a project. They test our ability in a sense to put our trust in God. In our text today, as we listen to these words, we hear the Lord offer a challenge to two sets of brothers when He says, "Come, follow me." So it is that Christ challenges every Christian. He challenges us everyday when Jesus says to us, "Come, follow me." In our Wednesday night Bible Study we started on 1 Peter and the challenge there for those Christians was the fact that all of their possessions were taken away from them. Their property was burned. They were kicked out of their homeland because they were believers. Yet the challenge for them as Peter continued was that they would still praise God.

This challenge we have in that first chapter in 1 Peter says: "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ’Be holy, because I am holy’"" (1 PETER 1:15,16). That is a divine challenge. It was a challenge for those believers. It is a challenge for us today to be holy. The only way we can be holy is to walk in the footsteps of our Savior. That is a great challenge in a world that doesn’t look at Christ as being that influential anymore in our society. So we want to examine what Christ has put before us this morning, with that thought that CHRIST CHALLENGES EVERY CHRISTIAN. Jesus does so with the words, "Come, follow me."

I. Jesus reminds us that we need to believe whole-heartedly in God’s Word.

II. Jesus reminds us that we need to follow whole-heartedly Jesus’ invitation, His call.

I. Believer wholeheartedly God’s word

Last week we heard how John pointed out that Jesus was the Lamb of God. The week before that we heard how John was baptizing in the Jordan River, and the people came to hear the message. Since that time, there is about a year that has taken place before our text begins. Our text tells us about a historical event that really changes once again history. 12When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. John the Baptist, who had been free by the Jordan River preaching the message of repentance, had hit a nerve with the ruler Herod. Herod didn’t want to hear that message anymore, so he put John into prison. That did not mean the message was going to quit, but instead we see Jesus leaving and coming to Galilee.

Where does He leave? 13Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali--Our text doesn’t tell us much more than that, but if you turn to the other Gospel writers, you may remember that Jesus, who grew up in Nazareth, was not accepted there as a prophet in His own country, His own town. The rejection of Jesus became so bad we are told that He could not perform miracles there because of the great unbelief of the people. So leaving Nazareth, Jesus went to Capernaum which was by the lake in the area of Zebulon and Naphtali. You can picture the Promised Land for yourselves--toward the bottom is the big sea, the Dead Sea and the Jordan River and on top we have the Sea of Galilee. On the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee is Capernaum, a very small fishing village. There is where Jesus is going to live. As Jesus lives there, He is going to make that His place of operations for His ministry. This was part of Galilee; but also the original tribes that were there were Zebulon and Naphtali, two of the small tribes of the twelve tribes of Israel.

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