Summary: In the call of discipleship that Jesus issued to the first disciples, we learn three important aspects of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and how to answer the call.

A. Italian composer Pietro Mascagni was once irritated by an organ-grinder who stood outside the composer’s apartment playing Mascagni’s own composition at about half the correct speed.

1. Eventually, when Mascagni could no longer stand hearing his composition be butchered in that way, he went into the street and corrected the organ-grinder.

2. He said to the organ-grinder: “I am Mascagni. Let me show you how to play my music correctly.”

3. Mascagni took the handle of the hurdy-gurdy, which is a stringed instrument that produces sound by a hand crank turning a wheel that rubs against the strings, and began to turn the handle more vigorously.

4. This pushed the tempo faster and he said to the organ-grinder this is the way the musical piece should sound.

5. The following day, Mascagni again heard the organ-grinder in the street outside.

6. When he looked out the window, he noticed a sign on the instrument the organ-grinder was playing, and the sign read: “Pupil of Mascagni.”

B. Anyone can claim to be a pupil or disciple of a master without actually being one, but true disciples can be spotted by their similarity to their master.

1. Jesus said: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).

2. Last week we began a new sermon series on discipleship called “I Am A Disciple of Jesus.”

3. That first sermon helped us to ask ourselves the question: Am I a disciple of Jesus?

4. We explored the idea that when someone is a disciple of Jesus, it means that Jesus is the core and center of their lives, that Jesus is their Savior and Jesus is their Lord.

5. As we continue to explore what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, I want us to explore the call of discipleship.

6. Today I want us to explore and work toward answering these two questions: “What is the call of discipleship?” and “What does it mean to answer that call?”

C. Let’s open our Bibles to Matthew chapter 4 and look at the calling of the first disciples of Jesus.

1. The Bible says: 18 As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19 “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him (Mt. 4:18-22).

2. Sometimes people wonder if this is the first time these men had seen Jesus or had any contact with Him, but we can determine from other Scripture that it was not the first time or the extent of the contact they had had with Jesus.

a. In Luke 5, a parallel passage of Matthew 4, Jesus got into Simon’s boat and made him put out into deep water to do some additional fishing, even though Simon had fished all night and had not caught anything.

b. Even though Simon didn’t want to, he obeyed Jesus’ instruction which resulted in a huge catch that required the help of their fishing partners, James and John the sons of Zebedee.

3. In John 1, Simon’s brother, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptizer and was with John just after Jesus’ baptism when John the Baptizer identified Jesus as the Lamb of God.

a. Andrew immediately pursued Jesus and spent some time with Him and then went and found his brother, Simon Peter and said, “We have found the Messiah,” and he took Peter to meet Jesus.

4. So, as I said, Scripture reveals that when Jesus invited them to follow Him, it was not their first encounter with Jesus.

D. I believe that Jesus’ invitation to those fisherman that day can help us understand what it means for all of us to answer the call to be a disciple of Jesus.

1. So let’s spend a little time breaking that calling down into the three aspects of discipleship that are revealed in the call Jesus gave them that day.

E. The first part of the calling of discipleship is “Follow Me.”

1. From Jesus’ perspective, a disciple is a person who follows Him.

2. In Jesus’ day, it was a big deal to be a disciple of a rabbi, and I am sure the Peter, Andrew, James and John were honored that a rabbi, like Jesus, would have asked lowly fisherman to be His disciples.

3. And although they knew a little bit about Jesus that day when He called them, they were about to spend the next 3 years learning all about Jesus, including His position, power and teachings.

4. Like them, to be disciples of Jesus, we too must recognize and accept who Jesus is, and we must place ourselves under His authority.

5. When Jesus called them to “follow him,” they understood that being a disciple means to be positioned behind the leader.

6. The positions and lines of authority are fixed – Jesus leads, and we follow.

7. In John 12:26, Jesus said it this way: “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.”

8. As we come to understand who Jesus is and what He expects, we have to decide whether to follow Him or not.

a. Many people like the idea of Jesus being their Savior, but they don’t really want Him to be their Lord.

b. But He cannot be one without being the other as well.

c. Jesus is who He is, and we must accept Him as He is and follow Him if we want to be His disciples.

9. So the first aspect of answering the call to discipleship is understanding and submitting ourselves to follow Jesus.

a. A disciple is a person who is following Jesus.

b. We might describe this as an initial and an ongoing decision at the “head” level.

c. In our minds we know (in our head, mind) who Jesus is, and we accept Him as our “head” (our authority, leader, Master).

d. Jesus is our Savior and our Lord and we are His followers – He leads and we follow.

10. A good illustration of this is the idea of military marching.

a. The first skill a soldier learns in the US Army is how to walk.

b. Before he or she learns how to fire a weapon or dig a fox hole, or survive in combat, a soldier must learn to walk – after all, marching is nothing more than walking in a certain way.

c. There are three distinct attributes to marching –

1. First, there is one person who is setting the rhythm and everyone else keeps step with Him – that would be Jesus.

2. Second, there is perfect uniformity – eyes straight ahead, shoulders back, every foot hitting the ground at the same time.

3. Third, those who are marching are all headed in the same direction, the direction given by the one calling the cadence – and everyone follows those directions simultaneously.

d. It is beautiful and awe-inspiring to see a military unit marching across the parade field: All in step, all walking with dignity and pride, and all singing out the cadence in perfect harmony.

11. Jesus calls out the cadence and we, His disciples, march according to His direction.

a. So, the first thing we understand about the call of discipleship is that disciples of Jesus follow Jesus.

F. The second part of the calling of discipleship is “I will make you.”

1. This clarifies the truth that a disciple of Jesus is someone who is being changed by Jesus.

2. When Jesus invited Peter, Andrew, James and John to be His followers, He was also revealing His intentions to them.

a. Jesus intended to change them – to make them into something.

b. Jesus intended to shape them into people who would be able to carry out His mission.

3. In John 15:1-2, Jesus explained: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.”

a. Being disciples of Jesus means that a pruning process needs to take place.

b. We don’t begin as disciples with the ability to produce all the fruit that God desires, but over the course of time, through God’s work and our cooperation, good fruit results.

c. Just think about all the changes that God needed to bring about in the lives of that rag tag group of 12!

d. Peter, the impetuous one…Thomas the doubting one…James and John the impatient ones.

4. Through the course of the discipling process, Jesus was going to shape these men into a group who was able to be Christ’s representatives in the world.

a. Jesus was going to teach them and empower them to be like Him.

b. Jesus was going to shape their beliefs (head), their attitudes (heart), and their actions (hands), so that they could be the messengers of the Good News to the world.

5. This goal of transformation is God’s intention for all disciples of Jesus.

a. Paul says it this way in Romans 8:29: For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

b. God’s desire is to have many, many sons and daughters who are conformed into the image of His Son.

c. God wants to transform us into the likeness of Jesus.

6. How does that shaping and transforming take place? Through the work of the Holy Spirit.

a. Jesus promised those first disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to be their comforter and their guide.

b. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that the Holy Spirit works in us to transform us into the image of the Lord, and Galatians 5 tells us the kind of fruit the Spirit produces in us.

7. And so a disciple is someone whom Jesus is changing and shaping so that we can help to lead others to God’s saving and changing power.

8. To be a disciple of Jesus we must follow Jesus and submit ourselves to His changing power at work in us shaping our hearts and characters to make us more effective for the final aspect of the call of discipleship.

G. The third part of the calling of discipleship is becoming “fishers of people.”

1. Those first four disciples (Peter, Andrew, James and John), had been fishers of fish, but their new mission was to be fishers of people.

2. The cause and mission of disciples of Jesus is people.

a. When we are following Jesus and when we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit who resides in us, then we can’t help but care about what God cares about which is the salvation of people.

3. As you know, Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

a. Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45).

b. And Jesus told the crowd in John 8:24 that if they didn’t believe that He was who He was (God’s only Son, the Messiah), then they would die in their sins.

4. This is the ultimate truth that disciples of Jesus know and understand and are compelled by: if people do not come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, then they are lost for all eternity.

a. Paul clearly communicated this truth to the Corinthians in his second letter to them.

b. 2 Cor. 5:10-11: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people.

c. Paul reaches a crescendo at the end of chapter 5: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:17-21).

d. Do you sense the conviction and urgency of Paul?

e. All of us who are disciples of Jesus should have the same conviction and urgency about the lost and the salvation that God is holding out to them.

f. We are His ambassadors and Jesus intends to make us into fishers of people.

5. This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus – we follow Him, are changed by Him, and are committed to carrying out His mission to save the lost.

a. This reality should affect everything about us – the way we think, the way we pray, the way we spend our time and money – everything!

b. We understand and believe that there are only two categories of people – the saved and the unsaved.

c. We don’t judge or condemn the lost, rather we love them and reach out to them.

d. We long to see unbelievers be reconciled to God through Jesus, and we partner with Jesus in His mission to save them.

e. As disciples of Jesus, we make available to Jesus our whole selves – our heads, our hearts, our hands – our gifts and abilities – our time, our attention, and our love.

H. So, let’s review what we have learned today, and let’s ask ourselves how well we have answered the call of discipleship in our own lives.

1. First, let’s ask ourselves: Am I following Christ?

a. Am I actively surrendering my life to Jesus as Lord and Savior?

b. Am I living in a way that Jesus is clearly the Head of my life, my authority?

c. If I am not following Christ as well as He would expect, what needs to change?

2. Second, let’s ask ourselves: Am I being changed by Jesus?

a. Am I growing in the character of Jesus and in the fruit of the Spirit?

b. Have I grown a lot since starting my journey with Jesus or have I not progressed very far?

c. Worse yet, have I lost ground and am returning to my pre-Christian ways?

d. How can I be in tune with and cooperate more with the Holy Spirit in the transformation process?

3. Finally, let’s ask ourselves: Am I committed to Jesus’ mission to save people?

a. Am I conscious on a daily basis of the lost people around me and how God might use me to connect with them?

b. Am I doing what I can on a daily basis to plant seeds of faith in others or build relationship bridges where the sharing of lives and the sharing of the Gospel can take place?

c. How can I have a greater burden for lost souls, and how can I be preparing to more effectively share my faith and share God’s Word?

I. I am praying that all of us will be blessed by taking to heart these basics of discipleship.

1. It is so important that we have this foundation of understanding about discipleship.

2. There is no way to expect that we will be true followers of Christ who are able to accomplish His mission if we aren’t building on the right foundation.

3. As we learned last week, being a disciple of Jesus is more than church membership and church attendance, it is relationship between teacher and student, between Master and apprentice.

4. Hopefully from this week’s sermon, we understand the call of discipleship is to follow Jesus, be changed by Jesus, and to be engaged in the mission of Jesus.

5. Lord willing, next week, we will explore the cost of discipleship.

J. Let’s pray…


The Disciple Maker’s Handbook, Bobby Harrington & Josh Patrick, Zondervan, 2017.

Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman, Zondervan, 2011.