Come and Follow Me

Having completed the first six commands at the Infant Stage, we are now into the first of four commands in this Youth Stage. In John 1 Jesus called to the disciples, “Come and see” (John 1:39), indicating that Jesus is a person worth investigating. Now Jesus calls this fishermen to “Come and follow me” (Matthew 4:19-22).

For nine month between the events of John 1 and Matthew 4, the disciples were investigating the words and works of Jesus.

  1. At the wedding at Cana the disciples became believers (John 2:11)
  2. They went to Capernaum and visited with Jesus (John 2:12)
  3. They celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem (John 2:13-25)
  4. They were present when Jesus and Nicodemus had their nighttime meeting (John 3:1-21)
  5. They spent time in Judea with Jesus (John 3:22)
  6. They went with Jesus through Samaria (John 4:1-42)

While in Samaria, Jesus cast vision into these early disciples, to have a heart for the lost (John 4:35-36). They experienced the excitement of seeing people come to faith in Christ. This stirred something in these young believers. They saw Jesus do it but didn’t have the person “how to” class, so the disciples went back to fishing, and then Jesus came to Galilee (John 4:44-45) preaching in the surrounding areas (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14b-15, Luke 4:14b-15). Jesus preached the gospel in Cana (John 4:46-54) and preached and was rejected in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-31a), before they settled in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13-16).

Jesus is now trying to establish these disciples in their faith in order to grow them toward maturity. They needed training in evangelism, Jesus wanted it to be a part of their DNA. “Follow Me” is the first command in the Youth Stage (or Build Level) of discipleship. The following are the areas of spiritual formation upon which Jesus focused in this phase:

  1. Decisiveness: Jesus invited new believers into an accountability relationship to be trained in evangelism. They had to decide whether they wanted Jesus to make them into fishers of men. We live in a culture where no one likes to be made to do anything. (Matthew 4:18-22)
  2. Spiritual Warfare: Their first experience was a confrontation with the spirit world, in of all places, in church (Mark 1:21-28)
  3. Peer Care (acts of compassion): Jesus served others out of a heart of compassion (Mark 1:30-31).
  4. Solitude: Jesus modeled getting away to a lonely place to seek the Father in order to set his priorities (Mark 1:35-39).
  5. Dropouts: Jesus addressed the fears of his disciples who returned to their fishing business after committing to this Youth Stage (Luke 5:1-11). Maybe believers don’t follow through and need encouragement and nudging.
  6. Peer Share (friendship evangelism): Jesus maximizes his relationship with Matthew to reach his lost friends (Matthew 9:10-13).
  7. Spiritual Disciplines: Jesus assured the disciples of John the Baptist that the spiritual habits like fasting and prayer would need to be practiced (Matthew 9:14-15).
  8. Flexible Conscience: Jesus carefully fulfilled the law and exercised his freedom in amoral areas. Training the conscience is important to help the new believer obey God’s commands yet be flexible enough to exercise the freedom to use their new wineskins (structures, forms, approaches) to culturally adapt to their target audience when sharing the gospel (Matthew 9:16-17).
  9. Sabbath Rest: Jesus honored the sabbath (Matthew 12:1-21) yet refused to obey the traditions of men. He taught that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27). They needed to establish rhythm in life and avoid ministerial burnout.

Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20

  1. What were the brothers doing when Jesus called them? Casting their nets. The phrase identifies their habitual employment; a humble vocation that called for skill, alertness, patience, and persistence.
  2. What were the second pair of brothers doing when Jesus called them? In the boat mending their nets; repairing or cleaning the nets after a night’s work. The idea was to “restore to a former condition.”
  3. What do we know about the fishing business on the Sea of Galilee? Nine towns and Bethsaida could be translated “Fishtown.” It was big business, so we must put to rest the idea that these men were ignorant and in poverty. While they were not trained in theology, they were NOT illiterate, stupid, or destitute. They had given up MUCH to follow Jesus (Matthew 19:27).
  4. How did both sets of brothers respond to Jesus’ call? They immediately left their nets. The call was instant and complete; they were not indecisive.
  5. How might father Zebedee felt? While the boys made a sacrifice to follow Jesus, their father also involved sacrifice since this was no small fishing company. There were hire men. The sons and heirs walked away, perhaps the nickname, “sons of thunder” applies to Zebedee’s reaction thundering at this situation watching his boys walk away from all he had built up for them.
  6. Who was Zebedee’s wife? He name was apparently Salome (Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40) and even was Mary’s sister (John 19:25). So, James and John were cousins of Jesus.
  7. Why does Jesus call two pairs of brothers? Jesus was beginning a relational movement; the brothers knew other family and others in the business. The expansion of the early church was through household evangelism (Matthew 10:11-14, Acts 2:46, 5:42, 10:2, 11:14, 16:15, 31, 33-34, 18:8, 20:20, Romans 16:5, 10-11, 1 Corinthians 1:16, 16:15, Philippians 4:22, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 1:2).
  8. What motivated them to answer the call of Jesus? They were tired of stinky fish. They watched Jesus model evangelism and they were convinced that they wanted to invest their lives for destinies rather than dollars.
  9. What do we learn about the leadership style of Jesus?
    1. Jesus was a relationship builder.
    2. Jesus cast a vision for seeing souls saved.
    3. Jesus took initiative to approach lost people.
    4. Jesus made the “ask” and engaged people in spiritual conversations.
    5. Jesus promised to shoulder the responsibility, “I will” make you fishers of men.
  10. What was required of these disciples other than a willingness to follow?
  11. What did you leave behind in order to follow Christ?
  12. Where are you spiritually?
    1. Preparing the nets?
    2. Leaving the boat?
    3. Following hard after Jesus?
    4. Feeling left behind?

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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