Michele and I were out of town on Sunday so we missed seeing you. Thanks to Bob for leading ICF. Here is my summary of the Bible study.

Going Fishing (Matthew 4:12-25)

After being tested in the wilderness (4:1-11), Jesus began his public ministry.

Choosing a Home Base (4:12-17)
In the first century, Jerusalem and Judea were considered to be the center of Jewish society. Jews generally looked down on Galilee. This is one of the reasons Jews had difficulty accepting “Jesus of Nazareth” as the Messiah. Jesus’ hometown was Nazareth in Galilee.

When Jesus established his home base for ministry, he chose the town of Capernaum in Galilee. Capernaum, located along the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, was largely dependent on the fishing industry. Thus it makes sense that Jesus’ first disciples were fishermen.

Jews in Judea questioned Jesus’ qualifications because he was from Galilee (John 7:41-42). But Matthew, quoting from Isaiah 9:1-2, says Jesus’ location in Galilee was a fulfillment of prophecy (Matthew 4:13-15). So it was appropriate that Jesus’ home base was in Galilee!

As Jesus began his public ministry, he preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (4:17). To “repent” is to turn away from attitudes and behaviors opposed to God’s authority and moral will, and turn toward God in faith and obedience. The kingdom has “come near” because the King (Jesus) has come.

Calling Fishermen (4:18-22)
As mentioned above, Jesus’ first disciples were fishermen. These men included Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. While they were engaged in their fishing activities, Jesus approached them and said, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of people” (4:19).

Peter and Andrew “at once … left their nets and followed him” (4:20). Likewise, James and John “immediately … left the boat and their father and followed him” (4:22). When Jesus called them, they responded without delay. They left their normal work and families, and followed Jesus. Peter later told Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you” (19:27).

The four fishermen’s response to Jesus’ call is a good example for us today. Of course, their place in history is unique. They literally followed Jesus! While their example applies to us today, it does not mean every follower of Jesus is called to leave their job and family and become a “full-time” minister! However, every believer is called to relinquish (give up) control of everything to God. Every believer should put God first, and be willing to give up what God clearly directs.

Jesus told these fishers of fish, “I will make you fishers of people” (4:19). This is a figure of speech. These fishermen would not be catching people for eating! They would be catching people for a much better situation.

Several years ago, we had two goldfish at our home. We kept them in a shallow pond in our yard during the summer. However, if we left them there during the winter, they would freeze to death. So as winter approached, I would catch them, and put them in our indoor aquarium. By catching them, I saved them from dying. I caught them for a much better situation.

Jesus Christ, the Fisher of people, called these men to join him in his work – “catching people” for the kingdom of heaven.

Casting the Net (4:23-25)
Verses 23-25 provide a summary of Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee. His ministry attracted many people. News about him spread throughout Galilee and beyond (4:24).

Large crowds of people “followed” Jesus (4:25), but they did not necessarily follow Jesus in the same way the four fishermen followed Jesus. The crowds that followed Jesus were “amazed” and “astonished” at his ministry, and many of them praised God for it (7:29; 9:8; 15:30-31; 22:33). However, only a portion of them committed their lives to Jesus like the four fishermen did.

What about You?

Are you in the crowd of people who is interested in Jesus? It’s good to be interested, but do you need to get closer to him? Do you need to personally commit to follow him by trusting him as Savior and Lord?

Brothers and sisters, are you following Jesus with all your heart? In what ways are you involved in “fishing for people?” Reflect on what it means to follow Jesus, and daily commit to do it.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Your Servant,

You may E-mail Jay & Michele Lester

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