Matthew 4:12-25 - Jesus Begins His Ministry

 Jesus Begins His Ministry and Calls His First Disciples

He begins by preaching
His disciples, Paul, Timothy, ... are all called to follow in his footsteps to "preach the Word" (2 Tim. 4:2)

What did he preach?  His first doctrine was that he "began to preach, repent"
This is the foundation of the message of Jesus and needs to be the foundation of our preaching and faith as well
    "True repentance is no light matter; it is
        a thorough change of heart about sin,
            a change showing itself in godly sorrow for sin -
                in heart-felt confession of sin - 
                    in a complete breaking off from sinful habits, 
                        and a lasting hatred of all sin"               --J. C. Ryle

This was the key tenet of Paul's preaching as well (Acts 20:17-21)

Who did he preach to?  The poor and base of society
Through repentance, the poor, who were ignored by those with earthly authority, could receive riches in the kingdom of God.  (2 Cor. 8:8-9)

The fact that Christianity flourished is evidence of its truth.  It had nothing going for it.  It opposed the rich and powerful; it didn't gratify any desires of the flesh; its first teachers were poor fisherman of low esteem in society.

Jesus chose to turn fishermen into fishers of men (Mat. 4:19).  Jesus calls us to the same thing.

"The great question is not so much what we are naturally, as what Jesus makes us by His grace; whoever we may be of ourselves, we can, by following Jesus, be made useful in His kingdom"  - Spurgeon
  • We may naturally be some of the worst of society (criminals, etc.) or the best of society (valued, contributing members); it doesn't matter regarding what Christ can then do with us once we submit to him and follow him
  • The call is to "Follow" - he will then teach us how to fish - we don't need to know how to do it on our own, nor can we expect to figure out how to do it on our own
  • We must:
    • Be separated to him - leave others (Mat. 6:24)
    • Belong to him - allow him to do as he wills with us
    • Abide with him
    • Obey him that we may learn his method (Mat. 11:29, 28:20)
    • Believe him and be faithful repeaters of his true doctrine
Remember that just as Christ made us fishers of men, he is also working in the fish that we are trying to catch
  • It is never purely an act of our own, but always the act of creation on the part of Jesus
Jesus chose fishermen, and to be good fishermen ourselves, we should consider the characteristics of good fishermen (by C. H. Spurgeon)
  1. A fisher is dependent and trustful
  2. He is diligent and persevering
  3. He is intelligent and watchful
  4. He is laborious and self-denying
  5. He is daring, and is not afraid to venture upon a dangerous sea
  6. He is successful: he is no fisher who never catches anything

Jesus Begins Ministering in Galilee

Jesus began his ministry with miracles that revealed both his power and his character.
He demonstrates healing physical infirmities so that people might understand that he also has the ability to heal spiritual infirmities (Mat. 9:1-8, Heb. 7:25).  Just as he heals all sort of illnesses (lame, blind, sick) he can heal all sorts of sins (liars, thieves, adulterers).  No one is beyond either his physical or spiritual healing.
But not only do they show us his power, they show us his heart.  He was not put off by anyone who came to him, no matter how loathsome he would be to humanity.  He showed miracles of mercy and love, not just miracles that showed his own ability.

"Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8), and thus, he is the same loving, powerful, healing savior he was in the flesh to us today.

Some Quotations to Consider

"I love your meetings for prayer, you cannot have too many of them: but we must work while we pray, and pray while we work.  I would rather see a man who has been saved from the gulf below, casting lifelines to others struggling in the maelstrom of death, than on his knees on that rock thanking God for his own deliverance; because I believe God will accept action for others as the highest possible expression of gratitude that a saved soul can offer."  -Thomas Guthrie

"A busy profession, a toilsome calling, no idle man's occupation, as the vulgar conceive it, now needless trade, taken up at last to pick a living out of.  Let God's fishermen busy themselves as they must, sometimes in preparing, sometimes in mending, sometimes in casting abroad, sometimes in drawing in the net, that they may 'separate the precious from the vile' (Jer. 15:19, Mat. 13:47-48); and no man shall have just cause to twit them with idleness, or to say they have an easy life." -John Trapp

"I watched an old man trout-fishing the other day, pulling them out one after another briskly.  'You manage it cleverly, old friend,' I said: 'I have passed a good many below who don't seem to be doing anything.'  The old man lifted himself up and struck his rod in the ground.  'Well, you see, Sir, there be three rules for trout-fishing, and 'tis no good trying if you don't mind them.  The first is, Keep yourself out of sight; and the second is Keep yourself farther out of sight; and the third is, Keep yourself farther still out of sight.  Then you're do it.'  'Good for catching men, too,' thought I." -Mark Guy Pearse

"The best training for a soul-saving minister is precisely that which he would follow if his sole object were to develop the character of Christ in himself.  The better the man, the more powerful will his preaching become.  As he grows like Jesus, he will preach like Jesus.  Given like purity of motive, tenderness of heart, and clearness of faith, and you will have like force of utternace.  The direct road to success in saving souls is to become like the saviour.  The imitation of Christ is the true art of sacred rhetoric."  -C. H. Spurgeon

"Mr. Jesse relates that certain fish give preference to bait that has been perfumed.  When the prince of evil goes forth in quest of victims, there does not need much allurement added to the common temptations of life to make them effective.  Fishers of men, however, do well to employ all the skill they can to suit the minds and tastes of those whom they seek to gain." -G. McMichael