12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali– 14 to 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– 16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
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 make you fishers of men.” 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, preaching 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 disease, 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.
The book of Matthew can be summarized into 3 parts:
- Chp 1-4:11 (Birth and Preparation of Jesus)
- Chp 4:12-25 (Message and Ministry of Jesus)
- Chp 26-28:20 (Death and Resurrection of Jesus)
Today = starting point of Jesus’ public ministry
Jesus came from Galilee (north) to the Jordan (south) to be baptized, then went into the desert to fast 40 days/night and be tempted. Then he went back to Galilee to start his ministry (not Nazareth but Capernum – 20 miles farther north (north-west sea of Galilee) – this was his home base in ministry).
- Capernum = farther away from intense opposition from Pharisees in Nazareth
- Capernum = very busy city, spread the message more quickly and widely
- Capernum = more disciples, more tools
Every action, every word, is obedient to the Word of Father God and the Scriptures.
He didn’t start in Jerusalem, but Capernum, land of Zebulun and Naphtali – the northern border of Galilee.
John the Baptist had been put in prison because he’d publicly rebuked Herod for taking his brother’s wife.
Zebulun and Naphtali = the names of people = 2 of the 12 sons of Jacob.
Fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1-2 = Matt 4:15-16
To understand this story, we need to know the background, history.
Z&N were two of the original tribes of Israel – they received their portion of the land during the conquest of Canaan by Joshua. Asyria then conquered them – usually they deported their people and repopulated it with their own Assyrians. So, there were lots of foreigners there. That’s why Isaiah calls it “Galilee of the Gentiles.”
The spiritual darkness of this land continued for centuries until Jesus came to live among them.
Jesus came to preach salvation by grace for those even in the deepest darkness.
From that time on… “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near!”
Jesus started his ministry with this one, short message. We already heard a similar message from JB (John the Baptist).
His first message = his continual message in his ministry.
Becoming Christians, followers of Jesus begins with repentance – turn away from sin, self-control, self-ruling – turn (right away) to Jesus. Believe in him as Savior and Lord.
- In Matthew “Kingdom of Heaven” = 32 times
- “Kingdom of God” = 5 times
Out of reverence for the holy name of the Lord, the Jews didn’t use “God” but substituted “Heaven” instead. In the New T, “Kingdom” = “rule of” not “location”- the rule of God = in your hearts.
If we accept Jesus and believe in him as King = we recognize his kingship in every area of our lives. This means our hearts are ruled by him. So if we believe in him = we are ruled by him = our hearts are his kingdom, even though our bodies reside in the kingdom of Earth.
Wow! How near is the kingdom of Heaven.
“My heart is the kingdom of Heaven!”
If you believe in Jesus as your King, this is true.
If our hearts = the kingdom of Heaven, Jesus needs workers for his kingdom.
Jesus called his workers.
He said, “Repent!” and immediately began to call his disciples.
The first 4, he had already met previously.
According to John’s gospel, at least some of them were John the Baptist’s disciples.
But, here, Jesus challenges them to throw in their whole lot with him.
A good fisherman must possess some good policies which turn them into good fishers OF men.
Fisherman -> fisher OF man
#1: A man of patience
He must learn to wait until the fish take the bait.
If he is impatient and restless to move, he can never make a good fisherman.
Also, good fishers of men must learn to wait, to be patient. We don’t often see quick (microwavable) results.
#2: A man of perseverance, resolution, determination, long-suffering
Never be discouraged, disappointed, dismayed.
A good fisher of men must also persevere. Sometimes, nothing seems to happen, but we must never be discouraged. We must be ready all the time to try again.
#3: A man of courage, bravery
There was no weather forecast, radio, television, newspaper. They must be ready to face dangerous situations, storms, typhoons, etc. They couldn’t anticipate those things. If he wants comfort and safety, he couldn’t go to sea.
A good fisher of men must also know that there may be danger, persecution, etc.
“I have no time, I have no gift, I have no talent.” Do you say that?
If we do not preach, do not say, it means we have no courage, no assurance, no faith.
#4: A cooperative mind and faith
- They work all the time together.
- They must learn when, where, how to find fish.
- They worked together, we also must work together.
They can’t see fish under the water, but they had expectations, and faith, and alertness.
Also good fishers of men must be like this.
#6: Power, energy, stamina
- Fishermen are tough, have big muscles.
- A good fisher of men needs power, but there is a big difference between the two.
- Fisherman = catch something living, move it to the land, kill it to sell it.
- Fisher of men = catch something dead, move it to heaven, help it to live.
- Fishermen = physical + killing power.
- Fisher of men = spiritual + life-giving power.
Do you have power? Yes, you walked here and sat down. Without Jesus, your power is killing power. But in Jesus, your power is life-giving power.
“The thief comes to kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
From this story we can learn 4 lessons:
#1: Jesus didn’t call powerful, wealthy, talented men. He called insignificant, ordinary people.
He calls the ordinary for extraordinary jobs.
#2: Jesus called the faithful, those who were diligent in their earthly jobs. They were working WHILE he called them.
He didn’t call them because they had lots of free-time. He called them when they were faithful and busy with their own jobs.
“I’m waiting on God~ I’m waiting for a vision~”
doing nothing. NO – be faithful and diligent TODAY with your secular jobs, with a holy mission.
#3: “Come, follow me, I WILL make you fishers of men.”
He didn’t say, “Become fishers of men first, then when you’re qualified you can join me.”
All we need to do is FOLLOW and OBEY. That’s all. He will do his job through us. “I WILL make” = “I will enable, empower, anoint” you to do the job I have for you.
We cannot forgive men, cannot regenerate hearts, only Jesus can. But he can do it through us when we follow and obey.
#4: What was their response?
IMMEDIATELY they followed – they dropped everything, they left their nets on the boat, they walked away from their father (still holding the net with jaw dropped…)
This is full commitment, full devotion.
Following Jesus = the biggest turning point in their lives.
Immediately following = immediately everything changes (goals, plans, vision, jobs, etc).
They left the boat and the net – the MOST important things a fisherman owns.
Remember: we cannot follow Jesus with our OLD selves, with our OLD plans, doing something God doesn’t like.
Jesus isn’t satisfied with HALF-hearted devotion. Jesus is not deceived, he is not cheated.
This part gives us a brief summary of Jesus’ ministry/life:
He came to preach the message of the gospel, the good news of the kingdom of God. Preaching = proclamation of the certainties of God.
He came to defeat our ignorance, announce the truth (which we cannot know except by him – he himself IS the truth – “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…If you know the Truth, the Truth will set you free.”
Gal 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm, do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Freedom = not free, Jesus paid the price.
Explain the details, help us with our misunderstanding, help us not to draw wrong conclusions from the Truth.
He came to explain the true meaning of the Truth.
His ministry is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He still heals. He came to defeat our pains. He wants us to be healthy and whole – spiritually, mentally, physically, in every area.
This healing power is still available if we acknowledge him in our lives.
Actually, Jesus = the original pain-killer.
If we follow Jesus truly, really, like him, we must:
- Preach (our certainties, our peace, our assurance)
- Teach (explain our faith)
- Heal (help others experience and enjoy the healing power of Christ)
Let’s pray. Specifically, let’s pray for the healing power of Christ to be fully realized in our lives and the lives of those around us.