Waters of Life

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MATTHEW - Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand!
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to Matthew
PART 1 - The Preliminary Period in the Ministry of Christ (Matthew 1:1 - 4:25)
C - Christ Begins His Galilean Ministry (Matthew 4:12-25)

2. Christ Calls the First Two Brothers to Discipleship (Matthew 4:18-22)

MATTHEW 4:18-22
18 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. 19 He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them. 22 They immediately left the boat and their father, and followed him.
(Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11; John 1:35-51)

When Christ began to preach, disciples began to gather who were first hearers, and then the preachers of his doctrine with signs and wonders accompanying them. In these verses, we have an account of the first disciples that he called into fellowship with himself.

In Christ's preaching, he gave a common call to all people but in these verses, he gave a special call to those that were given him by the Father. It is the power of Christ’s grace that influences hearts and lives to forsake everything and heed the special call of God for the sake of the gospel. Although all the country was called, these were called out and were redeemed from among them. When Christ, the great Teacher, set up his school, one of his first works was to appoint under masters to be employed in the work of instruction. Now he began to give gifts unto men, to put divine treasures into earthen vessels. It was an early instance of his care for the church.

Before being called out but after hearing Jesus preach, the disciples went back to their cities and practiced their fishing trade to provide for themselves and their families. However, the relationship between them and Jesus did not break off, and when the time has come, Jesus went to them and called two pair of brothers. They were not philosophers, theologians, rich men, or politicians. They were simple fishermen who were accustomed to hardships and hazards that came with their trade. They feared God and eagerly anticipated the coming of Christ.

Jesus gave them an offer that they would have been foolish to reject, "Follow men, and I will make you fishers of men." Although the concept of fishing may have been similar to their former occupation, this divine calling was like taking up a new life. They should not have been full of pride because of this new honor bestowed upon them—they were still but fishermen. They should not have been afraid of the new work Jesus had for them—they were used to fishing, and fishermen they still were. It was characteristic of Christ to speak of spiritual and heavenly things with such connotations, using common things that offered themselves to convey his meaning. David was called from feeding sheep to feed God’s people, and as a king, he was declared a shepherd. Followers of Christ are fishers of men, not to catch and destroy men, but to save them by bringing them into the kingdom of God. His followers must fish, not for wealth, honor, and privilege to gain men to themselves, but for souls to gain them to Christ. "I am ready to come to you . . . for I do not seek what is yours, but you." (2 Corinthians 12:14).

Anyone that has watched the work of fishermen on the sea has seen that they use different methods to accomplish their work. Some stand on the shore and cast their baited hooks into the water and wait for a fish to bite. They wait patiently until one fish takes the hook so they can reel it in. We see this principle in the kingdom of God. Christ's followers have to wait patiently for those who become interested in taking hold of the gospel message, then they can be led to Christ one by one.

Another common way of fishing is with nets. A group of fishermen set out in boats to cast a big net into the water. They propel across the water and drag their net, hoping to catch a lot of fish. It goes without saying that a man is not able to do this job alone. To "catch men" with the "gospel net", a group of believers or church members must work in unity, praying and ministering the gospel, to win many to Jesus. Each member in the group uses their divine gifts to partake in the Lord’s work.

In addition to these two methods, we find other ways to win sinners to God. There are fishermen who won’t wait for fish to come to them, but instead, they pursue the fish. They cast a hoop with a net attached around it hoping to quickly scoop up a fish that they can see lounging in shallow water. We must not wait until someone is prepared by himself to come to the Lord if God calls us to approach him directly, share with him the gospel of life, and direct him towards the Lord our Savior.

We may find some fishermen who put out an open net or a wire cage. They leave it for one or two nights, and then they come back to see if a fish entered. In like manner, some followers of Christ use some form of media to present to the public the fullness of God’s love so that whoever reads or hears the message might believe and follow the Savior.

On high seas where manual work is not practical, big vessels similar to factories do the fishing. They are comparable to the Christian broadcasting stations and publishing houses where groups cooperate to distribute the gospel message. They are all on one vessel, toiling together to bring the word of salvation to as many people as possible and to "catch" multitudes to Jesus. In every method of evangelizing, we must realize that apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.

Jesus saw these four men by the Sea of Galilee. He knew them and called them, and they obeyed him without delay. They got up, left their means of living and followed Jesus. They did not expect a fixed salary, nor did they signed an agreement to the working hours. He who is called by Jesus to leave his job for the Lord's ministry must not turn toward money, health, or honor. He must turn toward the Master alone who bears the responsibility for him forever. Do you hear the Lord’s calling to serve him?

They did not object to leaving their present employment or missing engagements with their families. They did not fuss over the difficulties of the service they were called to or their own inability to do it. Being called, they obeyed, and as Abraham "went out not knowing where he was going," they went—but they knew very well whom they followed.

Those who rightly follow Christ, must "leave all." Every Christian must leave all affections that would interfere with following the Lord. Christ must be so far above all other relationships that love for him can be comparatively viewed as "hate toward family members" (Luke 14:26). In particular, those who are devoted to the work of the ministry must disentangle themselves from all the affairs of this life so that they may give themselves wholly to his work, which requires "the whole man."

Jesus is calling his disciples into a special work that concerns him alone. No other person has the right gather people unto himself, separating them from their works, families, houses and neighbors in order to follow him. He did not gather them by force, but by his powerful word—and he is still calling servants and disciples this way.

PRAYER: I thank you Lord Jesus because you called your disciples to serve. Please look upon me, though I have been wicked and I am incompetent, strengthen and encourage me. Teach me how to fish for people, so that I might help many come to know and trust you. Instruct me by your Holy Spirit. Amen.


  1. What is the implication of Jesus saying, "I will make you fishers of men?


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