Summary: Matt 4:18-25 Immediately
Following. What does it mean to follow someone or something? My son Krystof likes to follow me. Recently he’s started coming to church early with me, because he wants to be with Daddy. Last Sunday night he even came to the Sunday night prayer meeting. Why? He wanted to follow his daddy. Following. What does it mean to follow a person or follow a cause? In the realm of sport we might say, “I follow the Broncos.” Or if you haven’t yet seen the light you might follow the Lions. Which of course then leads us to: some people follow the League – that is, Rugby League. Some follow aerial ping – I mean, the AFL. Some follow Soccer, and others follow the ultimate code - rugby union. In politics we might say, “I follow the Liberal Party” or “the National Party” or “the Labour Party.” And even within parties, different ones follow different leaders or potential leaders. In the Labour party, some follow Julia Gillard and others follow Kevin Rudd. In the Liberals, some follow Tony Abbott and some followed Malcolm Turnbull. At least in our country following different political leaders isn’t that voilent. If you live in Libya, well some follow Gaddafi, and others don’t, and the result is quite voilent. Some people follow causes. For example, some follow the anti-whaling cause. Some follow the anti-smoking cause. There are followers of the Dalai Lama. There are followers of Oprah Winfrey, or of various pop stars or TV actors.
What does it mean to be a follower of someone or something? For some, it just means keeping up with what is going on with that person or cause. Knowing all the facts, watching all the games. For others it is much more than an casual interest. Look at the Ivory Coast in civil war at the moment. Some follow Laurent Gbagbo, others follow Alassane Ouattara, and the followers of each man are willing to die for their cause. Closer to home, look at the anti-whalers in the Southern Ocean and the way they risk their lives for their cause. They are willing to die for their cause. They are really serious about following their cause. There are many causes and many people to follow in this world.
But as Christians, we are called to follow Christ, and Christ alone. What does that mean - follow Christ? Today we are going to look at Jesus Christ’s call to some fisherman to follow Him and see what it meant to them. We are also going to look at Jesus’ early ministry of preaching and teaching and healing and how it attracted followers. Great crowds of people who followed Him.
Now the context of our passage, which is in Matthew 4:17-25 (pg 809), is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. We know that from last week when we read verse 17
Matthew 417 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
That is, Jesus began to preach, and we also looked at what Jesus’ message was, remember? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Next week when we look at the Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, we will look more at what the Kingdom of Heaven is. But for now, remember that Jesus’ call was “to repent”. That is - turn from your sins, turn from your own way of doing things, and turn to God, turn to Christ, and we shall see in our passage, it means turning to following Christ.
Now what sort of following is it to follow Christ? Is like following the Broncos? Or following your favourite TV show? Like following Oprah? Or Top Gear? Or is it something more than that? Let’s have a look. In verse 18 we meet the first of Jesus’ future followers
Matthew 418 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.
The Sea of Galilee is a small inland sea or a big lake in the north of Israel. It was about 21km from north to south and 13km east to west. The Jordan River flowed into it from the north and flowed out again at the south. And the Sea of Galilee has a lot of fish, and had a lot of fish in Jesus’ time, and so many people earned their living by fishing from it. And here we see two of these fishermen, they were brothers, and they are working, catching fish. They would catch fish back then by casting a net into the sea, which the fish would swim into, and then they’d pull the net in. Jesus was walking by the Lake and sees Peter and Andrew working away, fishing, and He calls to them in verse 19: