This week I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to follow Jesus and to make disciples. This in itself is a huge topic that one could write volumes on and just scratch the surface of it. But as I read the scriptures of the Gospel I took notice of something that I thought was very comforting. Jesus is in control of the work that he calls us to do. I know, not exactly a new concept, but I really love it when I read the scriptures or pray and he confirms that I don’t have it in me to do what he has called me to do.
Why in the world would that be good news? If my boss at work asked me to do a task that was literally impossible to do I would become overwhelmed and frustrated, even angry. But as a follower of Christ I have the Spirit of GOD within me. He is the one doing the work to change me into the image of Christ and empowering me to be the hands and feet of the Son of GOD.
Matthew 4:18-22 18 While 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 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And 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, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
I don’t know bout you, but I find that exhilarating! Did you catch what he said? “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” I’m in the middle of a study* about discipleship that talked about this very verse and I really liked the way it was discussed within that study: “Follow me”, “I will make you”, and “fishers of men”.
1. “Follow me”: First of all, as disciples we must believes in and follow Christ. This is no passive thing. When GOD calls on us, giving us the faith we need to follow him, we must leave the things of this world behind and be dedicated to him. When Christ called Peter and Andrew they left their trade, their belongings, their family to follow Christ. That’s scary. Leaving everything you know to do a job that you don’t fully understand. Who could do that on their own? We can’t, but there is good news: Christ does this in us!
2. “I will make you”:Once we are followers of Christ we receive his Spirit. GOD himself is working in us. A disciple must be one that not only “follows” Christ, but is being CHANGED by Christ. This constant changing makes us more and more like him, and empowers us to do the work he has called us to do.
3. “fishersofmen”:Aside from a personal relationship with,and the worship of GOD, he has called us to make disciples. This is the impossible work set before us, that is, if we were to try to do it ourselves we would fail. Christ gave us the ability to do the things he calls us to do. Isn’t that how we came to know him in the first place? As Ephesians 2:8-9 says, it is a gift of GOD, not by our own works, so that no one can boast. GOD gets the glory! AMEN!
If that isn’t clear enough, take a look with me at the account of Peter and Simons calling from the book of Luke, which goes into a little more detail about what happened at this calling of the first disciples.
Luke 5:3-11 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
WOW! Did you see what Christ has done here? The brothers had been toiling in their work all night and had nothing but empty hands to show for it. Christ steps into the picture and says something crazy, “Do it again!” What would you think if you had labored at a task for hours, failing to produce a result, and some guy you have never met comes up and says “Do it again?” This is no ordinary person. This stranger is the son of GOD.
Peter says something great here, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” He has acknowledge that there are no fish. Nothing has come of their own effort, and yet he trust in Christ. Then a miracle happens–fish! LOTS OF FISH! This is a great lesson for the soon-to-be disciples and for you and me. Where our efforts and vision fall short GOD makes it possible. “Not by works, so that no one can boast.” Then he tells the men to not be afraid, that he will make this possible for them. How wonderful!
1. A disciple must deny himself, put off the fear of the unknown, and follow Christ.
2. A disciple is one who is being changed by Christ.
3. Christ gives us impossible tasks, but he gives us the ability to DO THE IMPOSSIBLE THROUGH HIS POWER!
* Real Life Discipleship by Jim Putman et. al. pg 25.