Sermon Outline On Matthew 4:17-23
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Matthew shares with us a story about Jesus calling the first four of his disciples. As Jesus is walking along the shore he spots Simon, the one called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They are casting their net out into the lake, because they are fishermen. Jesus says to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then an incredible thing happens. Without one word, Peter and Andrew drop their net and follow Jesus.
What was Jesus talking about? “I’ll make you fishers of men.” Was Jesus going to teach them the card game? What does it mean to be a fisher of men?
Jesus uses this image of fishing. “Come follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” What is Jesus trying to tell us?
Fred Craddock says this metaphor of fishing for people is more familiar than clear. He calls it “unattractive as a description of the details of the church’s mission.” Craddock also points out that this metaphor did not “catch on” in the New Testament. The more popular image in the New Testament is that of the shepherd.
So why would shepherding be more readily accepted than fishing? We tend to associate fishing with evangelism and discipleship. We think of shepherding as taking care of someone else’s needs. Now which would you rather do, help someone feel better or take the risk of sharing your beliefs. Which would you rather do, give someone your old coat or invite them to church. Things have changed much in 2000 years.
So what does it mean to be a fisher of men? C. Sumner Wemp says, “A follower of Christ is a fisher of men!” “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). If you are not fishing, you are not following. Jesus promised to make you a fisher of men. C. Sumner Wemp, “Fishing for Men,” Electronic Evangelism Devotional, www.gospelcom.net
The invitation is to become a disciple or learner. “Jesus calls these men not to an experience of personal salvation but to a school…. He does not say, ‘follow me, and I will save your souls.’ … His promise is not their salvation but others’ .” (Bruner, 127).
In the days of Jesus to be a disciple of a rabbi meant that one would be in daily, intimate contact with their teacher. Jesus was offering Peter and Andrew that opportunity. In such daily, intimate contact they would become like Jesus in thought, word and deed. “That speaks powerfully about discipleship. It is not enough to learn facts about Jesus. We must spend time with him. Discipleship is less an affair of the head than of the heart.” Richard Donavon, Sermon Writer for Epiphany 3A
So. To be a fisher of men requires following Jesus. It means accepting the invitation to be in daily, intimate contact with Jesus.