Matthew 4:12-23 Discipleship

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, Our King, Our Strength and Our Redeemer! AMEN.

Mat 4:12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he went back to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. This was in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 So what the prophet Isaiah had said came true:

15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
    on the way to the sea,
        across the Jordan River,
            Galilee, where foreigners live!
16 The people who lived in darkness
    have seen a bright light.
A light has risen
    for those who live in a land overshadowed by death.”

17 From then on, Jesus began to tell people, “Turn to God and change the way you think and act, because the kingdom of heaven is near!”

The Calling of the First Disciples

18 As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew. They were throwing a net into the sea because they were fishermen.19 Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me! I will teach you how to catch people instead of fish.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed him.

21 As Jesus went on, he saw two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee preparing their nets to go fishing. He called them, 22 and they immediately left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.

Spreading the Good News in Galilee

23 Jesus went all over Galilee. He taught in the synagogues and spread the Good News of the kingdom. He also cured every disease and sickness among the people.

This gospel message speaks of the start of Jesus' ministry and I believe should be seen as giving us a glimpse of what God sees as we start on the path of true Christianity.

First we notice that Jesus starts His ministry as John completes his role of preparing the way of the Lord!

As a Christian if you look back you will see how the way was prepared for you to become a member of the universal Church which is the 'body' of Christ. We should remember that Jesus is the door and 'No-one can enter the sheepfold' except via Jesus. He prepared the way!

Self-made Christians do not belong to God!

They may say 'Lord! Lord!, in all the right places, but Jesus doesn't know them!

Next we see Jesus moving to a new area and bringing a new light to replace the darkness that existed in that area before. When we started our true journey as Christians the same thing happened to us. The light of the gospel illuminated our paths. We now hated the things that worldly people (such as we were) did continually, and put them away from us.

We no longer had any place in our lives for lying and cheating because Satan is the father of lies. We no longer had any place in our lives for hatred and anger because that is the spirit of murder.

We no longer had any place for idols; human, animal, vegetable or mineral; because idolatry is the same as witchcraft.

We were now walking in the light of God!

Next we become aware that it is Jesus who calls His 'disciples to be' to follow Him! While we were yet sinners Jesus died for us. God made the first move! We are not in the Church because of how great we are! God has given us various talents and gifts but every good gift has come from God as it tells us in James 1:17.

Now, immediately they were called and accepted their calling, they left their nets and followed Jesus.

This is what the true Christian does.

We repent! We give up our old worldly ways and our old carnal habits and allow Jesus to renew our minds through Holy Spirit who is living in us; if we are truly converted.

Jesus first wants to have us as disciples, whom He trains to be trainers of others. Do you remember that Jesus told the disciples to go into all the world and make disciples. We are all disciples of Jesus if we have truly been converted.

Disciples are people under training to do what their Master and Rabbi does. We are in training to be active copies of Jesus in how we act and think. All our actions should be preceded by the thought – 'What would Jesus do?' 'Does this fit with Jesus in me?'

And all our actions should be followed by the thought, “Would Jesus have done that?” Would Jesus in me, 'the hope of glory', have been proud to be in me as I did that?

If He would not, then we have some maturing to do if we are Christians, and we have some repenting to do if we are not yet converted, as we move toward true baptism in the Lord.

Now what do we see as the final stage expoused to us in this gospel message.

Jesus is shown teaching the gospel and healing all manner of diseases among the people. That's our final role as well!

As disciples or even as evangelists of Jesus it is for all us to train up our children of the flesh and our spiritual children to see their natural state as one that is leading to hell. And, to show them, that with true surrender to the Lord Jesus, and accepting Him as 'Lord and Saviour', they can have everlasting life in union with God. They move from death to life!

At the heart of the gospel is the command from Jesus that anyone who is angry with his brother, or is unkind to her sister, or calls someone 'a fool' or 'worthless', is in danger of hell-fire! And the interesting thing is that it doesn't matter whether you believe in God or not – this applies to YOU!

But there is more! We who have escaped from this position of walking death. by accepting Jesus as our Saviour, are not to be selfish but are to tell others how they too can be rescued from a fate worse than death!

That's god's plan for us and God's way works and brings no sorrow!

As we meet people who are suffering from the problems placed on them by Satan and the world and get them to know God and surrender to Jesus we bring the healing that Jesus provided into their lives.

Whether it's oppression, depression, ill health, emotional problems, family problems, or any of life's problems; the answer is the gospel of Jesus. And for us it's being and example such that people and especially our youth don't think, “If that's what Christianity is like I don't want any part of it!”

Our example influences the next generations; our children and grandchildren. They take in all that we say and they are drawing conclusions about us and our brand of Christianity.

So let's be about our Father's business. Let's be, - “Believers who actually believe God”; “Disciples who actually disciple others into Christ by our example and our words”; and “Christians who actually love God and love their neighbours, in the Church and outside”.

So at the return of Jesus He will say -

Well done you good and faithful servant, enter into the JOY of your Master!

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all,