Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

                                                                               27 August 2005

Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men  
  Matthew 4:19


Just before He returned to heaven, Jesus gave us what we call the Great Commission which states: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The central core of the purpose of the church is outlined in these verses.

Here we discover that the three components of the Great Commission are; Evangelize, Incorporate and Disciple.

First, Jesus says “go, therefore and make disciples of all nations.”

We have to reach them with the gospel, we have to evangelize.

The second thing Jesus says that we must do is “… baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

In the command to “baptize” we see the importance of not only reaching the lost with the message of the Gospel, but the need of incorporating these new believers into the body of Christ.

The final part of the Great Commission could be called discipleship, “… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”

The word “teaching” here means “instruction.”

This is to be instruction in “observing” or “keeping” the commands of Christ.

That raises a question in my mind: “But just what is it that we are to teach these new believers in Christ?”

In a sense, discipleship is helping someone become conscious of “all those things commanded by Christ?”

Jesus’ first command is found in Matthew 4:17, which is “Repent for the kingdom of God is at Hand.”

Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, led a crusade in Australia during the spring of 1996.

At one of the invitations, a fifteen-year-old boy told a counselor he came forward because, as he said, “I haven’t been decent to Jesus.”

Repentance starts with a confession that we “haven’t been decent to Jesus.”

When it comes to repenting of our sins, our greatest struggle may come after we have repented. 

I’ll illustrate what I mean with a story I read.

Gary Richmond gained an interesting perspective on snakes while working with a snake handler at a zoo.

The curator was joined by Richmond and three other professionals as they milked the venom of a king cobra.

The tension was high because of the deadly potential.

The man noted that in Africa, several elephants die every year as a result of the king cobra.

While clenching the snake’s neck, the curator explained the need for milking the cobra as quickly as possible because “no man could ever survive a bite from a full load of venom.”

The snake’s venom glands contain enough poison to kill one thousand adults.

Once the rags were saturated with the lethal venom and they were ready to release the snake, this skilled curator gave a profound warning.

He cautioned the others and said, “More people are bitten trying to let go of snakes than when they grab them.”

When it comes to repenting of our sins, we frequently find the greatest struggle occurs after the repentance instead of before.

This lesson about snakes helps us understand why.

When we try to turn loose of Satan he will quickly lunge at us with a full load of venom.

Like the wise snake handler, be cautious and aware.

Now We Need To Consider His Second Command which Is: “Follow Me And I Will Make You Fishers of Men” (Matt 4:18)

Today, we want to turn to Matthew 4:18, and find the second command of Christ.

(18)  “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen
(19) Then he said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
(20) And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”

Now, I want to call your attention to these words of verse 19, “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

The command “follow me” is simple to understand; it simply means that “your place is following after me.”

Joseph Stowell (pastor of the Moody Church) identified the problem of the modern church well when he said, “We have become quite happy to call ourselves Christians with little or no thought of following.”

Paul Harvey said, “We have drifted away from being fishers of men to being keepers of the aquarium.”

In seeking to understand this command I want us to ask and answer five questions?

1. What Does it Mean To Follow Jesus?
“Follow me” is not the invitation to be saved; it is the call of the believer to service.

It is no small decision to follow Jesus.

It is possible to have heard the Lord’s teaching and still not be a disciple, to be a camp-follower without being a soldier, to be a hanger-on in some great work without pulling one’s weight.

To follow Christ means to set aside our own goals and pleasures and to embrace the purposes for which God created us.

Those purposes are: to know Him in a personal way and to make disciples of others by teaching them all of Christ’s commands.

All those who truly follow Christ must exchange their affections, goals and priorities for His.

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew their goal was to be successful fishermen.

In asking them to forsake this goal, he commanded them to follow Him and He would “make them fishers for men’s souls.”

Jesus did not simply command His disciples to become fishers of men, but rather He promised to make them fishers of men.

2. How does Fishing for Men Relate to Following Christ?

I heard a cute little story that can be applied here. 

It seems the pastor was presenting his sermon on evangelism to the children.

He had a fishing pole and had already talked about different types of bait that will attract fish.

He then turned to the Lord’s proclamation for each of us to be fishers of men.

Looking for an answer from the children, he asked, “If I was going to fish for men, what kind of bait do you think I should use?”

Without hesitation, a young boy shouted out, “Donuts!”

The common image of a fisherman in our day is of a man with a fishing pole casting a lure into the waters of a stream or a lake.

However, such was not the case when Jesus called his disciples.

They caught fish with nets and by experience they found that their best fishing took place at night.

We know that this is true by looking at Luke 5:5; when Jesus told Peter to cast his nets on the other side of the boat he said, “Master we have toiled all night and caught nothing never-the-less at your word I will let down the net.”

How did they fish at night?

They used a very powerful and effective method, "light."

Fish were attracted to light.

3. How are we to compare fishing to reaching people for Jesus?

Jesus uses this same effective method to draw people to Him.

John tells us that Jesus said (8:12), “I am the light of the world, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”

Just like fish are attracted to the disciples light, God wants people to be drawn to His light shining through His people.

The light of every believer is the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives.

Paul stated in his second letter to the Corinthians (4:6-7): “For it is God who command-ed light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power of God may be of God and not of us.”

We are not the light we merely reflect the light of Jesus.

4. What does it require to follow Jesus?

It was a call that required complete and immediate attachment to Jesus, and giving Him first place in the disciple’s lives, over every one and everything else.

Peter and Andrew “left their nets” suggesting that they left their present occupation.

James and John “left their father” suggesting that following Christ takes precedence over even maintaining close proximity to our family.

The requirement for following Jesus is not the same for everyone.

For some it means leaving their present occupations to follow him.

For others it means being willing to leave family and friends.

But for everyone it is a willingness to exchange their affections, goals and priorities for His.

Listen carefully to the statement I am about to make because I do not want you to misunderstand me.

The worse thing in life may not be that we fail.

The greatest failures occur when we succeed in areas that are not God’s will for our lives and are not true to the clear teaching of scripture, success that keeps us from pursuing God’s real plan for our lives.

The worse thing in life is not failing, but succeeding in a worldly pursuit having left Christ out of our lives.

5. What is the single most important thing we can do as Christians?

When we learn that some one is dying what is the single most important topic on our minds.

“Are they saved?”

"Death" is a process that never ceases to function, but when we’re young we don’t believe it will happen to us.

Lance Foster certainly wasn’t thinking about it when he left his dormitory desk to get a soft drink in March of 1988.

The twenty-three-year-old student at the University of Kansas encountered a vending machine that took his money but didn’t deliver his drink.

Foster aggressively shook the machine and it ended up tipping over on top of him.

He died of internal injuries shortly thereafter.

Ali-Asghar Ahani never dreamed he would die by a gun-firing snake, but that’s exactly how he met death in 1989.

When he came across a snake in Iran, he attempted to capture it rather than shoot it.

He pressed the butt of his shotgun behind the snake’s head.

The snake immediately coiled around the gun and its tail activated the trigger.

Ahani died of a single shot to the head.

William Curry believed life was just beginning in 1990 when he won $3.6 million in the lottery.

But just two weeks after striking it rich, the thirty-seven-year-old Curry died of a heart attack.

His sister-in-law told reporters the stress of winning is what killed him.

Death doesn’t always call the way we believe it should, so we need to be prepared for its inevitable arrival.

What this should remind us of is that what really matters in life is what we are most concerned about at death – whether or not people know Jesus Christ.

When someone is dying nothing else really matters, does it?

There have been times in the life of every Christian when he or she recognized that the greatest thing he could do with his life was to get someone else to Christ.

It may be that Christ wants you to recommit yourself to reaching someone for Christ.

Perhaps it is someone that you have given up with?

Have you ever really stopped to realize that Jesus wants you to be someone whose heart is moved to reach out to the lost people around you?

In order to accomplish this goal in life would you be willing to:

Lay aside your personal ambition and plans in order to fully follow Christ.

Purpose in your life to better reflect the light of Christ to those around you.

Look for and take opportunities to share with others what Jesus has done for you.

Jesus said “Follow me and I will make you Fishers of Men.”

"All of us" can do the job of an evangelist, if we have the ability to speak.

We sometimes forget that an evangelist is literally “a messenger of good news.”

Bob LeVitus writes a syndicated column called “Dr. Mac.”

In his weekly article, LeVitus shares tips for getting the most from a Macintosh computer.

He provides information about software, hardware, system manipulation, shortcuts, and various other pieces of “good news” for Mac computer users.

Ironically, his official job description is defined as “director of evangelism for Power Computing Corporation” in Austin, Texas.

Thanks to this computer expert, we’ve been reminded that evangelism involves “good news.”

Let’s proclaim the gospel with renewed enthusiasm and “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5).

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