Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďI WILL MAKE YOUĒ

Matthew 4.19

 

Four passages in the gospels record the Lord Jesus Christís call extended to four fishermen He selected to be His disciples. In Matthewís gospel account, please read Matthew 4.18-22:

 

18     And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19     And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20     And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

21     And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

22     And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

 

In Markís gospel account, please read Mark 1.14-21:

 

14     Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

15     And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

16     Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

17     And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

18     And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

19     And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

20     And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

21     And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

 

In Lukeís gospel, please read Luke 5.2-11:

 

2      And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.

3      And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simonís, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

4      Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

5      And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

6      And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

7      And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

8      When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesusí knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

9      For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:

10     And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.

11     And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

 

Finally, in the gospel of John, please read John 1.35-43:

 

35     Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;

36     And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

37     And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

38     Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?

39     He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

40     One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peterís brother.

41     He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

42     And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

43     The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

 

Contrary to what many think when they read these gospel accounts without carefully studying both the contexts in which they are set and the words that comprise these accounts, the four gospel accounts do not record the same event. Rather, the passages record three distinct events in our Lordís earthly ministry and in the lives of those apostles who were fishermen.

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Christís First Call

John 1.35-43:

35        Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;

36       And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

37       And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

38       Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?

39       He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

40       One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peterís brother.

41       He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

42       And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

43       The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

 

Christís Second Call

Matthew 4.18-22:

18       And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19       And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20       And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

21       And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

22       And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

 

Mark 1.14-21:

14       Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

15       And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

16       Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

17       And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

18       And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

19       And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

20       And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

21       And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

 

Christís Third Call

Luke 5.2-11:

2         And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.

3         And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simonís, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

4         Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

5         And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

6         And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

7         And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

8         When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesusí knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

 

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Notice the four passages above, arranged according to their proper chronology, under the heading of Christís First Call, Christís Second Call, and ending with Christís Third Call. My purpose is to establish in your thinking the certainty that these passages apply to the headings I have placed them under. We consider them in turn.

 

First, We Look At CHRISTíS FIRST CALL OF THE FOUR FISHERMEN

 

Looking to John 1.35-43, notice several features that clearly distinguish this passage from the others we have read, showing this passage to be a record of the first of Christís calls of the four fishermen:

In verse 35, reference is made to a man named John. This is John the Baptist, meaning this episode took place before John the Baptistís arrest and martyrdom.

In verse 36, John the Baptist identifies the Lord Jesus Christ, ďBehold the Lamb of God!Ē This obviously took place at the beginning of our Lordís earthly ministry.

Another feature of this passage concerns the two apostles who had the initial contact with the Savior. In his peculiar style, the Apostle John shows us that he and Andrew first heard Jesus speak and then followed Him. They then fetched their brothers, Andrew getting Simon Peter, verse 41, and John subtly showing that he brought his yet unnamed brother James. The point being, the two pairs of brothers did not all encounter the Lord Jesus Christ simultaneously.

Finally, verse 43 shows us their location was not Galilee, since Jesus journeyed to Galilee the next day, where He then called Philip to follow Him.

To collect your thoughts, keep in mind that the Lord Jesus Christís public ministry began when He was baptized by John the Baptist, who baptized in the Jordan River some distance to the south of Galilee, at a place just about due east of Jerusalem. Thus, it is clear that this passage records Christís call of these men at the very beginning of His public ministry, when John the Baptist was still alive and a free man, and at the southern end of the Jordan River where the Baptist baptized him.

 

Next, We Look At CHRISTíS SECOND CALL OF THE FOUR FISHERMEN

 

The evidence is clear that Matthew 4.18-22 and Mark 1.14-21 record a second calling to discipleship. Notice, from Matthew 4.18 and Mark 1.16 that the Lord Jesus Christ is walking by the Sea of Galilee. Thus, the location is different from the incident recorded in Johnís gospel. Yet this, too, occurs rather early on in our Lordís public ministry, as evidenced by the fact that He is walking by the Sea of Galilee, yet there is no mention of the large crowds that began to follow Him later on.

Notice, also, that Matthew 4.18 shows that the Lord Jesus Christ first saw Simon Peter and Andrew, and then saw James and John later, verse 21. Mark 1.16 and 19 show the same thing. Yet Johnís gospel showed Andrew and John being the first, with Peter and James meeting Him later. This is clearly a second event.

Notice, also, that in Matthew and Markís account we see Peter and Andrew casting their nets, while John and James are mending their nets.

That this is a distinct event from the calling recorded by the Apostle John is obvious from the fact that this is in Galilee and Johnís account was not, and this account shows Jesus encountering Simon and his brother Andrew before He encountered John and James, whereas in Johnís account Jesus first met John and Andrew and then met Simon Peter and James.

Thus, we know there were at least two different occasions in which the Lord Jesus Christ called these four fishermen to follow Him. Was there a third call?

 

Finally, We Look At Christís THIRD CALL OF THE FOUR FISHERMEN

 

Lukeís account also records an episode in our Lordís public ministry that took place on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The question is whether it is the same event that Matthew and Mark record.

Matthew and Mark, you remember, state that Peter and Andrew were casting their nets, while James and John were mending their nets. Lukeís account clearly shows the men are not fishing, but are drying their nets after an entire unsuccessful night of fishing.

Unlike the three other accounts, Lukeís account shows Jesus entering one of their ships so He could teach from that ship to those standing on shore, something He resorted to doing when the crowds that followed Him became very large. This indicates that we are later in His public ministry than Johnís account, and than Matthew and Markís account, where no crowds are mentioned or implied.

Finally, in this encounter the Lord Jesus Christ does not come, first to two fishermen, and then later to two more fishermen, as in the previous two episodes. Here He comes upon all four men at the same time, since they had been fishing together all night and were drying all their nets in close proximity to each other.

What distinguishes this passage from the other three is our Lordís use of Simon Peterís boat. He initially used the boat as a platform from which to speak to the gathered multitudes just off the shoreline. Then He instructed Simon Peter, the professional fisherman, to move farther offshore and to let down his nets, plural.

It is instructive for us to take note of several things here: First, Jesus, the carpenter, is telling Simon Peter, the professional fisherman, how to catch fish. Do not think Simon Peter did not notice the irony of that, and perhaps he resented it. Second, keep in mind that their entire night of fishing had proven fruitless. Yet the Carpenter directed the fisherman to let down his nets, Luke 5.4. Notice that He did not instruct Peter to cast his nets, which is what those fishermen did to catch fish. They would cast their nets to catch fish. Jesus, however, instructed him to simply lower his nets. In other words, Peter was being told to fish in a very passive way. Third, notice Simon Peterís display of rebellion, in verse 5. He protested that he had toiled all night with nothing to show for it, and then he indicates he will let down the net. Not nets, mind you. He would let down the net. This is a display of rebellion and only partial compliance. Finally, notice what happened with the single net Peter lowered into the water. The Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of all creation, simply directed fish to swim into Peterís net, breaking it, and almost sinking his ship and another, the take of fish was so large. Had he done what the Savior told him to do his valuable net would not have been broken.

Two things, I want to leave you with, before the sermon: First, I want to make a point related to the three calls extended by my Lord Jesus Christ to the four fishermen. As well, I want to make a point about the Carpenter telling the fisherman how to fish.

As to the three calls extended by the Lord Jesus Christ to those four men, keep in mind that in each instance their initial response was to heed the call to follow Christ. However, it is obvious that after the first call and the second call they returned to what they had previously been doing. In other words, they started out well, but then they went back. What does this illustrate to us? Is anything to be learned here? I believe these responses and returns show us that the Saviorís dealings with men to follow Him are somewhat different than most people imagine who think the Savior called them only one time. Though justification is a single event in a personís life when he comes to Christ and is granted standing before God, sanctification is properly understood to be a process that requires response after response, decision after decision, and commitment after commitment. From first call to forsaking all and following Him took time, and took at least three calls. Therefore, do not be so discouraged by your inconsistency and faltering steps of obedience that you give up and sink into despair. Growth in grace and the onset of maturity is a process that requires time and experience for every Christian.

The second point that I would like to make has to do with this matter of being fishers of men. Peter and Andrew, James and John, were fishers of fish. However, along comes one who directed Peter to lower his nets into the water, whereupon the fish swam into the single net Peter had reluctantly lowered into the water. The Lord Jesus Christ then directed a whole bunch of fish to swim into the net. It was a huge number of fish. He then said, ďFear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.Ē We have here an argument from lesser to greater, from the material to the spiritual, from the fish of Galilee to the souls of men. Can one who displays such expertise at catching fish be trusted to know what He is talking about when it comes to catching men? No doubt. Those four men saw the logic of the Saviorís argument. That is why we have Luke 5.11 in the Bible: ďAnd when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.Ē

When will you bring your ship to the shore so you can forsake all to follow Him?

 

SERMON:

 

A very simple sermon, with Matthew 4.19 as my text: ďAnd he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.Ē

This verse records the Saviorís second call to those four men, but it is in essence no different from the first or the third calls. This call is what Christian life and service is all about.

Three observations:

 

First, THEIR COMMAND

 

ďAnd he saith unto them, Follow me . . . .Ē

 

Abbott-Smith has this to say about the two Greek words that are translated ďFollow meĒ: He indicates that the Greek word deute is plural (and Jesus is speaking to four men), and that it is to be understood as equivalent to our English ďcome on! come here! Come!Ē[1] The other word, !opisw, means ďback, behind, after[2]

It is very clear, then, that the Lord Jesus Christ is not making a suggestion to these men. Neither is He recommending what He considers a wise course of action, or an advisable career change. He is the Lord, and He is issuing a directive: ďFollow me.Ē

He does not call upon men to walk alongside Him, since He is the leader. Neither is He our peer. We are not His equals. He does not seek our advice, our agreement, or our companionship, so much as our obedience. However, do not forget that the directive to follow Him requires that He always go first where He directs us to go.

Is this command a command to conversion? That is, are these lost men the Savior is calling to salvation? Some good men believe so, but the lost are always called by Christ to come to Him, rather to follow Him. It is those who are already saved who are called to follow after Him, such as we have here.

One final thought before moving on: How very simple this is. There is little complexity to the basics of salvation and service. To the lost Jesus says, ďCome unto me.Ē To the saved Jesus says, ďFollow me.Ē Simple. Direct. Pointed. Needful.

 

Next, THEIR TRANSFORMATION

 

ďAnd he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you . . . .Ē

 

What an astounding declaration this is: ďI will make you.Ē Whose task is it to assure success? Not the apostles. Not yours or mine. The Lord Jesus Christ takes upon Himself the responsibility of transforming those men into fishers of men.

The Greek word translated ďI will makeĒ is the word poihsw, a future active indicative verb. Jesus is declaring what He is going to do to those men. This speaks, not of justification (when a man comes to Christ and Jesus does something for him, something outside of him, thereby altering his status before God), but speaks of sanctification (when Christ does something to the man to change him, so that something is done to him to alter him inwardly).

Thus, you see, their transformation is the Lordís responsibility, not theirs. Their responsibility is obedience. The Saviorís responsibility is their transformation, their making over, if you will. What a glorious Savior and Lord we have.

Sadly, many people are frightened when it comes to spiritual matters such as these. Lost people are afraid of salvation, and professing Christians are afraid of yielding to the Masterís will. However, we see here that transformation is His problem to solve. The change that must take place in a man who comes to Christ is Christís problem to solve. Moreover, He solves His problems.

Thus, if you follow Him, He ďwill make you.Ē You do not need to make yourself, since that would be self-reformation. When the child of God follows Christ, the changes are not self-reformation, but sanctification. They are not the turning over of a new leaf, but the blossoming of a new life.

 

Finally, THEIR COMMISSION

 

Notice that it is no mystery what the Lord Jesus Christ plans to do with them. There is no secret concerning Godís will for menís lives. The Savior plans to transform these four fishers of fish into fishers of men. He will call others to discipleship soon enough. John 1.43 shows the Savior almost immediately calling Philip to follow Him. In fact, several hundred men and women followed Him throughout His public ministry, of which twelve were called apostles. Their goal? Their task? Fish for men. Fish for men. Always, it is to fish for men.

 

There is manís part in this thing called the Christian life, and then there is Godís part. Manís part is obedience, while the Saviorís part is to make you, to transform you, to alter you, to change you. If you obey Christ by following Him, the result of His work in your life will be your transformation into a fisher of men. Perhaps you will land many, or perhaps you will land few. However, you will land some for Christ. There is no question of what the Lord Jesus Christ will do. The question is what will you do? Will you come to Him, that you might have life? If you will come to Christ, be assured that after coming to Christ and being saved from your sins, He will then begin summoning you to follow Him, and will make you a fisher of men. Not a skilled angler, who knows how to cleverly tie flies and make use of carefully crafted tools that require years of practice and great skill to be any good with. A sharp hook and special bait? No. Peter was instructed to lower his nets into the water. And when he lowered the net, the Lord Jesus Christ filled it with fish.

If you follow Christ, be assured that He will transform you into a fisher of men who knows how to lower your nets into the water. Simple tasks, done at the Saviorís bidding, results in catching men, so that whereas fish get caught alive and then die, men get caught dead in their trespasses and sins and then become alive in Christ. How very glorious is the gospel which we preach, this net we use to fish for men.



[1] G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon Of The New Testament, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark Ltd, 1986), page 103.

[2] Ibid., page 320.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org