The Calling of the First Four (Mat. 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20, Luke 5:1-11)
We see that up until this point, all of Jesus’ ministry has been outside of Galilee. It is not until Jesus hears that John the Baptist has been arrested does Jesus go into Galilee. This is important for us to know because it marks the point in which John the Baptist’s role of proclaiming the way of the Lord is complete. It is now time for Jesus to go into Galilee and to start His ministry.
In verses 18-22 of Matthew, we see that Jesus goes directly to the two sets brothers: Peter & Andrew and John & James. Jesus tells them to follow me and I will make you fishers of men. In review, why do you think that these brothers would abandon everything to follow Jesus? Remember we had studied earlier in John 1:35-51 that Peter, Andrew, Philip, Nathaniel, and most likely John were the first followers of Jesus during His Judean ministry. (Carson, 1995)
However, on returning to Galilee, they again took up their normal work. Therefore, their abrupt abandonment of everything they have known was not a reckless decision, but one based on their faith in Jesus Christ. However, sadly this is not the only time that we will see them go back to their trade of fishing. This is where Jesus will once again find them after His resurrection (John 20).
Although their abrupt following of Jesus is not as surprising as it first appears once you put it in context of what we already know from the Gospel of John and by the details of the even in Luke 5:1-11, it is however, still worth pointing out all that they left behind them in their following of Jesus. These disciples left behind their careers, the way they were going to support themselves, and their family all because Jesus was calling them.
Does Jesus call us to do the same today? Of course, a common misunderstanding is that Jesus comes to fulfill our desires. This is most clearly seen in the health, wealth, and prosperity Gospel. This false doctrine teaches that if you accept Jesus Christ as your savior, that He will treat you like a prince, since you have been adopted into His family, and if anything bad happens to you it was because you did not have enough faith in Him.
However, this is not what we see Jesus of the Bible doing. Jesus is not saying come to me and I will fulfill your desires. NO, Jesus says come to me and I will give you new desires. We can see this in this passage, Jesus did not come to help these men become better fishermen, but to make them fishers of men. This is a total identity change for them. We also see this when the rich young ruler comes asking Jesus what can he do to inherit the kingdom of heaven and Jesus tells him to sell everything and to follow him. And likewise today, Jesus is still in the business of identity change. Jesus transforms sinners into servants.
However, as radical as leaving your possessions and lively hood, it is even more radical to tell someone to leave their family. However, this is what we see Jesus telling his disciples to do. They leave their father in the boat. Jesus goes on later and tells us that we must hate our father and mother in order to be a follower of Jesus.
This does not mean that we cause harm to our parents, but it does mean that we should be doing things for Christ because we love him so much that it looks like we hate our parents. An example of this can be seen in this passage, when the disciples abandoned their father, I am sure that it looked like they hated him. However, it was not because they hate their earthly father, but because they love their heavenly father that much more.
We all will be called to sacrifice something in our following of Christ. If you have not had to sacrifice something and you see Jesus as meeting all your fleshly desires then I will be tempted to doubt your salvation. We all must drop everything that we hold so deeply because Jesus does not tolerate competition for our heart’s desire. We might be called on by Jesus to lose everything, even our lives; fishing for people as we see with the disciples becomes an often-dangerous profession. However, the good news is that He is worth it!