Casting A New Vision
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” vs. 19
Missing The Point
Several years ago, in London, England the city was besieged with complaints about London’s mass transit system. It seems that the city’s buses tended to drive right past bus stops even though there were customers standing in line waiting to be picked up. Called upon to explain their actions, the London Transit Authorities released the following statement which has become infamous with public relations departments everywhere. It read: “It is impossible for us to maintain our schedules if we are always having to stop and pick up passengers.”
APPLY: (pause)… What was wrong with that statement?
Answer: They got their priorities confused. They were only doing half of their job. They thought their job was to keep a schedule when, in reality, their job was to pick up passengers and deliver them to their destinations. They were created to pick up and deliver people; the schedule was a means by which they do that. Can you imagine waiting for a bus or BART and watching it pass by when you have been waiting and then you are ate for work, an appointment, a date, etc. They whole idea is that the company is supposed to blend the schedule with picking up and delivering people; and that is do-able.
Today we are looking at a passage where Jesus tells us some keys things to remember about our Christian life and what we are to do. It’s found in Matthew 4:18-25. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word.
Read Passage – Matthew 4:18-22
18 As 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 send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going 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, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
Jesus On The Lookout
Jesus is beginning his earthly ministry and in the verses we looked at last week we saw Jesus message is; “Repent for the kingdom of God is near.” Here is where we find him now, verse 18:
“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers…” vs. 18a
Jesus is walking along the shore of Galilee when he sees some fisherman. It’s exactly what you would expect to see when you are on the shore of a lake. Jesus is about to embark on the huge task of telling people about God and that God wants a relationship with them and he is here to provide a way for a restored relationship with God. So he is looking for people he can train, confide in, teach, and eventually empower to carry on the ministry when he goes back to God.
Question: If you wanted to find some good people to do ministry, where would you go?
Answer: Maybe to a Christian college, a church, etc. Would you go to the gym, the mall, a grocery store, the gas station, the local park? Probably not.
Not Jesus. He doesn’t go to the temple, synagogue, or go looking for people who have all the answers. Jesus calls regular everyday people, in this case, fisherman. He didn’t want the professional theologians and scholars of the day, the people who thought they had all the answers, who lived a “perfect” life, who thought they were gifted to do ministry. No he calls everyday people who are doing everyday jobs and live everyday lives. Jesus is still doing that today. Granted we have more avenues for training, more answers and resources at our fingertips and creative ways to reach those who don’t know God. But the story is the same, God calls everyday people to be the ones to spread the gospel.
Choosing Who To Follow
Part of the key to this story is the choice that the fisherman have to make; verse 18-19:
“They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me…’”
The fishermen are called to follow Jesus; it is a choice. They are confronted with having to choose if they are going to follow him or not. Theologian John Calvin noted that these men were not called to salvation, they already believed. They were now being called to a specific task. We can say we believe and trust Jesus.
They were confronted with a big call. They were being called to leave their jobs, their families, their homes, really everything they knew. This is a big choice. The real issue for those who believe is that when Jesus calls us to action; are we ready? Are we ready to drop what we are doing to do what God wants us to do. I don’t just mean a call to ministry. No, it’s more than that.
Ex. God calls you to feed the homeless, God calls you to teach the kids or youth, God calls you to help at a retirement home, etc.
What has God laid on your heart? What is stopping you from obeying God’s call?
The New Vision
Jesus didn’t just call them to follow him, he called them to a new vision of their old job. He says in verse 19:
“Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’” vs. 19
All these guys knew was fishing. Jesus tells them they are going to do something very similar yet with a new focus. Their new focus is people, not fish. They will employ similar tactics but in new ways. Applying this to us today, Jesus rarely calls us to something we don’t know anything about. He takes what we know and what we are familiar with and use it in a new way.
Ex. I had no idea that the budgeting I did at UPS, the people skills I learned, the planning ahead, etc., were preparing me for being a pastor, but it did. He takes what we know, what we have learned, our skills and talents, and shows us we can use them to bring people to God and for his glory.
Jesus Vision For Reaching People
The real issue here is that ministry is a full-time commitment for all believers. God doesn’t just call some people into ministry; he calls all people into ministry. It’s the idea that you can minister wherever you are and whatever you are doing. The bottom line, there are a lot more ministers outside the church than there are in the church.
Listen to the uniqueness and creativity of this story we are reading today. This story has some really cool analogies and meaning within it. Jesus gives them a new vision for reaching people and it could be missed if we read through this too fast. Let’s spend a moment and really see what Jesus is saying. It’s broken down in three areas of ways to reach people.
• In Crowds
The first way to reach people is in large crowds. Notice the call of James and John in verses 21 and 22:
“Going 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, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” vss. 21-22a
Jesus also calls these fishermen to follow him. They have a unique way of fishing. They are using a net that in Greek is the word “diktya.” That is the term used here. This term is a compound net of three layers, made up of five units each over a hundred feet long. This kind of net had to be used be groups of fisherman in two boats. They would drop the net in the water and have to work together to pull the net back up and gather the fish into a boat.
I.e. Televangelists, pastors in big church, musicians, churches as a whole, etc.
Ex. You don’t have to be working in a church for this to be part of your life. There is a great example of this in the Old Testament; Joseph. Joseph is a man of God who through some pretty rough circumstances of being sold into slavery and accused of wrongdoing still rises to the second in command in Egypt. He uses is authority, knowledge and common sense to save Egypt in the middle of a drought and to further the Israelites who are living in the land. He didn’t go work into he temple or sanctuary, he worked in the palace and in the trenches making the Pharaoh famous and rich and taking care of the people of Egypt and his own people as well.
Ex. 2 I had a friend that was an ex-professional football player. He had a real rapport with police and fireman. He actually resigned his position as a pastor to be a chaplain to police and fireman and minister to them because as we know, they experience some incredibly difficult things. He started it in one area, trained someone to take over, and then went and started one in another area. He is still doing that today.
• Small Groups
The second way to reach people is where an individual can make an impact on a small group of people, verse 18:
“As 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.” vs. 18
So Jesus sees Peter and Andrew and they are fishing as well. Notice they too were casting their net into the lake. Jesus uses a different Greek word here for casting their net which is “amphiblestrom.” This term is used of a fisherman who has a circular net about 20-25 feet in diameter that has weights around the outside edge. A single fisherman uses this kind of net. He gathers it in his arms and throws it into the water, either while standing in a boat or in shallow water. The net is pulled down by the weights on the outer ring and it sinks forming a parachute like form and traps the fish. So a single fisherman is casting a net and catching a group of fish.
Ex. An example of this in the New Testament is a woman named Lydia Found in Acts 16. She is a dealer in purple cloths and also a believer in God. She is listening to Paul preach and she is so touched that she goes home and converts everyone in her family. She reached her sphere of influence.
Ex. 2 Grace Emmanuel reaching those in her apt. complex.
Finally, people can also be reached on an individual basis. Notice the events of verse 24:
“News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.“ vs. 24
This is Jesus meeting people right where they are, dealing with their issues and problems one-on-one and making a difference in their lives. Some people need individual attention and need to specific issues in their life dealt with. Many people need that one-on-one touch from someone who cares, who is willing to show the love of God and be genuinely concerned about them. Someone who will listen, pray, or give an encouraging word. This could be your neighbor(s), co-worker, a friend, family, etc.
Ex. Nancye to share story of man at ER when Tom was in the hospital.
A Royal Priesthood
An interesting note is that 3 of these four men called. John, James and Peter were the closet friends and partners in ministry that Jesus had. Here is what it comes down to; God calls all of us to be in ministry, full-time ministry. When you give your life to God, when you accept the free gift of salvation through repentance and belief in Jesus as your Savior, you have a special calling on your life. We find the way God looks at us in 1 Peter 2:9-10:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10
Notice, circle, underline, that you, you, are chosen and that you are part of the royal priesthood. Jesus gave it all for you. He wants you to give it all. You are called to be the best teacher you can be, the best supervisor you can be, the best accountant you can be, the best little league coach you can be, the best friend you can be, etc. You get the idea. We are all called to ministry. We are all called to build the kingdom. We are all called to be fishers of men.