Jesus: The Disciplemaker
I sure am glad that you’re here for part three of our series, “Who is Jesus Christ?” Who can remember what passage we looked at last week? That’s right, we looked at the temptation of Christ, and we looked at seven distinct facts that we can use to defeat temptation in our lives. And who can remember what we talked about on the first week of our study? Very nice, yes, we talked about the baptism of Christ, and how He set an example for us to be baptized. So as you can see, as we have been exploring the identity of Jesus Christ, we are constantly reminded that His identity has very powerful implications for our lives. In fact, knowing who Jesus is should turn our entire lives upside down. So far, we’ve seen how we should be baptized, because Christ was baptized, and then we saw how we should defeat temptation, because Christ defeated temptation. And this week we are going to look at how our Master began the movement that we now know as Christianity. In today’s passage, we are going to see how Jesus called His first four disciples. Have you ever wondered what exactly it means to be a disciple of Christ? That’s one of the big things we’re going to look at this morning. And perhaps a question that has even bigger implications for many of you, “How can I help other people become disciples of Christ?” So to answer these two important questions, we need to turn to Matthew chapter four, and this week we’re going to begin in verse eighteen, and we are going to read through verse twenty-two. So again, Matthew 4:18.
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they straightway left their nets and followed Him. And going on from thence, He saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.”
Let’s pray together.
The title of my sermon this morning is, “Jesus: The Disciplemaker.” And as I said a couple minutes ago, we are essentially going to be answering two questions this morning, and this text has two principles for each one of the two questions. So the first question we are going to be looking at is “What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?”
Principle #1: Being a Disciple Means Committing to Follow Jesus
It’s not often that I handle verses out of order, but for the sake of answering question number one, we need to look at verse nineteen again. “And He saith unto them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” Verse nineteen is actually going to be the central verse we talk about this morning, and three of our four principles will revolve around these short ten words. So the first principle is seen in the first two words of the verse. “Follow me.” When Jesus was issuing the call to discipleship for these two fishermen, the first thing He told them was to follow Him. What does it mean to commit to following Jesus? Perhaps a bigger question, is this the same commitment you made when you became a believer?
This is a difficult question, because when most American Christians think about what it means to follow Jesus, they have a very limited view. This is a similar principle to what we talked about last Sunday night, about what it means to become a Christian. So often in many churches, the prevailing opinion is that all we have to do is pray a simple prayer, and “voila!” you have your ticket to heaven. It is like saying, “Congratulations, you have your ticket, now please sit down and wait for your heavenly train to arrive.” But is that really what it means to follow Jesus? Absolutely not! When you became a Christian, you did not merely make Jesus Christ the Savior of your life, you also made Him the Lord of your life! We cannot claim to follow Jesus with our lives, and yet do nothing that He commands us! That doesn’t make any sense at all, does it? That’s like saying, “Yeah, I’m in the army. I mean, I skipped boot camp, and technically I don’t do anything my lieutenant says, but I’m still in the army.”
Or, for a personal illustration, when I was in seventh grade, I was on the basketball team. Now, there were twelve of us on the team, and as you probably know, in basketball, there are five guys on the court at a time. So on a team of twelve, being a starter wasn’t exactly an illustrious achievement. And yet, I was not a starter. And so that leaves seven guys left on the team to fill second and third strings. But the coach had to pick five of us seven guys to be on second string. And guess what, I wasn’t even on second string! That’s right; your pastor was one of two guys on the illustrious third string of the Fredericktown Middle School Blackcats. And the other guy on third string with me was a kid by the name of Matt Lawrence. Now Matt was a good guy and all, but he wasn’t exactly the epitome of a hard worker. Essentially, Matt’s older brother bet him that he couldn’t survive a year on the basketball team, so Matt decided to prove him wrong by making the team. But get this, Matt absolutely refused to play one second of an actual basketball game. Every game, the coach would say, “Matt, you want to play tonight?” and Matt would reply, “No thanks coach, I think I will sit this one out.”
Unfortunately, there are so many Christians out there that are just like Matt Lawrence. They made a profession of faith, and yet they have refused to play the game! And while I do not want to come across as too harsh, I believe that there are a lot of people out there who say that they are Christians, and yet they are just as lost as ever. Because saying a little prayer at an altar some time is not what makes you a Christian. You become a Christian the moment you place your faith in Christ, and commit yourself to following His ways! Now, that’s not to say that you can’t be saved at an altar. I was saved at an altar just like this when I was eight years old. What I am saying is that we are not saved by a mere repetition of a sinner’s prayer. No, we are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. And part of honoring Jesus as our Lord is that we agree to follow His ways and His commands.
And each one of the first three principles we’re going to look at this morning can be associated with a part of our bodies. And the part of the body that principle number one falls under is the head. Have you the head decision to follow Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life? And frankly, this is something that even we who have been Christians for years need to hear. Because deciding to follow Christ and obey His commands is not just a one-time decision. No, we need to decide every day that we are going to submit ourselves to His leading. And so right there on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus said to two ordinary fishermen, “Follow me.” So the first principle of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is that we must make a commitment to follow Jesus.
Principle #2: Being a Disciple Means Allowing Jesus to Change Us
Let’s read what Jesus said in verse nineteen again. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The four words in the middle of this verse are our focus now. Jesus says, “I will make you.” You might be wondering how on earth this preacher is going to develop an entire point out of four little words. And that would be a good argument, except for these four words are such an important part of our Christian experience. In the first point we talked about how we had to make a head decision to follow Jesus, but in this part of the verse, the commitment moves down into our hearts.
So to answer the question, “What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?” we first said that we must commit to following Jesus, but the second half of the answer is that we must allow ourselves to be changed by Jesus. I know I’ve said it before, but it is a grave mistake that many believers make in thinking that they are responsible for making themselves a good person. When in fact, it is the Holy Spirit that moves in us and transforms our lives for His glory. But that is not to imply that there is nothing we can do to help this process. You see, in this verse, Jesus unveiled His plan to make these fishermen into something great. And the fact is, Jesus has plans to turn you into something great too, but you have to let Him. And part of letting Him change you is doing the things that He says will allow Him to change us.
Remember last week when we talked about how temptation is almost unbeatable when we go to the places where temptation lurks? Well this is basically the flip side of that principle. When we do the things that God says will cause us to grow, we simply can’t help but grow! And to give this principle a little flesh and bones, if you dedicate yourself to being in church, God is going to use this church to mature you in the faith. He is going to draw you ever closer to Himself because you are doing things His way. And the same thing can be said about, Sunday school, Sunday night and Wednesday night services. When we come together and spend time talking about God’s word, God will help you become a better Christian. But just in case we start feeling too prideful about our spiritual walk, Jesus reminds us in this verse that it is He that does the growing. He has plans to make each and every one of you into some of the best soldiers the Kingdom of God has ever seen, but we must do the things that God uses to change our lives.
So the first of our two questions this morning was “What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?” We looked at two answers to this question. The first answer is that a disciple commits himself or herself to following Jesus’ ways and commands. And the second answer is that a disciple allows himself or herself to be changed by Christ into the person he or she needs to be. So now let’s answer question number two, “How can I help other people become disciples of Christ?”
Principle #3: We Must Be Fishers of Men
Let’s read verse nineteen one last time. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” First we talked about how committing ourselves to Christ involved our head, and how allowing ourselves to be changed by Him involved our heart. And now, this verse shows us that this head knowledge and heart transformation must turn into hand action.
Jesus told these two that He was going to make them into fishers of men. And I know that many of you have probably heard this verse about a kajillion times in your lives, so I don’t want to beat this verse to death, but I think so often when we think about this verse we only think about evangelism. We immediately get the point that Jesus is telling the disciples to bring people to Christ, just as they had always brought fish into their boat, but is that all that fishermen do? No! What does a fisherman do after he has caught the fish? After that fish lands in the boat, does the fisherman carry that flailing fish home and throw in on the dinner table in front of his wife and kids and say, “Let’s eat!” That would be crazy! After he catches the fish, he proceeds to clean it and fillet it and cook it.
So what does this mean for a disciple of Christ who is trying to help other people become disciples of Christ? It means that we cannot simply convince other people to say a prayer and then walk away saying, “I did my part!” No, we have to come along beside them and help them in their new walk with Christ. This process is called ‘discipleship.’ So Jesus told these two men to become His disciples, and then He told them to turn other people into disciples! That simple process is exactly how the Christian faith grew from one Savior, to twelve men, to a minority population of the Roman Empire, to the world’s largest faith. And that is the process that Christ has called us into, as well. Someone led us to Christ, and hopefully, someone came along side of you and showed you what it meant to be a Christian. And now it’s your job to repeat that process. There’s an excellent verse in 2 Timothy that expresses this point perfectly. You don’t have to turn there, but I’m going to read 2 Timothy 2:2. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” This verse shows three distinct discipleship relationships. The first is between Paul and Timothy. Paul taught Timothy the truths of the faith. And then the second relationship is between Timothy and faithful men. And then the third relationship is between the faithful men and others. Do you see what has happened here? Paul is investing his life into Timothy, who is investing his life into faithful men, who are investing their lives into other people.
And just as Jesus made Peter and Andrew fishers of men, and just as Paul told Timothy to be a fisher of men, Jesus Christ has told us to become fishers of men. But Jesus gives us some hints about how to go about this crucial task, and those hints make up principle number four.
Principle #4: We Must Be Intentional About Discipleship
Let’s backtrack and look at verse eighteen. “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.” The question that immediately pops into my mind is, “Why Jesus was walking on the shore of the Sea of Galilee?” I mean, in the verses that Justin read this morning, Jesus had begun his preaching tour, and He was no doubt turning a lot of heads. And then in the next verse, it says that Jesus was just walking down the shore of the lake. Was Jesus just stressed and thought a nice stroll down the beach would help Him? No, I fully believe that Jesus walked down the shore that day knowing that He would run into Peter and Andrew, and that He would run into James and John after that. Jesus could have been preaching to the masses that day, but instead He called four men and told them to follow Him. This fact shows that Jesus was extremely intentional about discipleship, and calling these four men was a part of His master plan.
So what would it look like today to be intentional about discipleship? Let’s think about fishermen once again. We’ve talked about how fishermen catch their fish and how they prepare the fish after they catch them, but how do fishermen prepare themselves before they go out on the lake? For one thing, fishermen need to be excellent meteorologists, knowing when the wind and weather and seasons are just right for hauling in that big catch. And they also have to have their equipment ready ahead of time so that they are ready for that big catch. Case and point, let’s read verse twenty-one of our text. “And going on from thence, He saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.” What were James and John doing when Jesus approached them and asked them to become disciples? They were mending their nets! So fishermen know their environment, and they are prepared with their equipment.
So how does this illustration of a fisherman apply to us? Just like fishermen have to know their surroundings and have to use the proper tools, we need to understand the culture of the world around us and we need to be armed with the proper spiritual tools. So if we are going to be fishers of men for Jesus, we need to understand the way people out there think. And we also need to prepare ourselves by knowing how to effectively communicate the gospel. Jesus told us that it is every believer’s job to share their faith, and we need to know how to do that. And if you’re here this morning, and you’re thinking, “That sounds nice, but I just don’t know how to share my faith,” I would encourage you to simply share your testimony. In the gospels, there was a man that Jesus healed, and immediately the man was put on trial in the temple, and he was questioned about his healing. Do you think that man had a doctorate in theology? Or do you think he had practiced for years how he was going to answer that question? No, of course not! That man said that all he knew was that he used to be blind, but now he could see. Isn’t that a great testimony? So if you are here today, and you don’t know the first thing about sharing your faith, I would encourage you to simply share your story with someone. Share with them what your life was like before Christ, and what it is like after Christ. The best atheist debaters in the world cannot disprove the simple truth that your life has been changed by Christ.
And so one practical thing that I would encourage everyone to do is to write out your testimony, and then work towards memorizing it. It shouldn’t be any longer than two or three minutes, but if you will do that simple thing, you will have one great tool for being a fisher of men. And then, you have to actually do the hard part of physically sharing your faith with someone. Every Saturday for the foreseeable future I am going to go door-to-door inviting people to come to our church. I would absolutely love it if some of you wanted to go with me. If you didn’t know what to say or you were too nervous, I would be willing to do all the talking, and you could pray for me while I witnessed. But as we saw earlier, we have to make the head commitment to follow Jesus, and then we have to make the heart commitment to be changed by Him, but then we must make the hands commitment to put our faith into practice.
And if you are privileged to lead someone to faith in Christ, I strongly encourage you to take the time to teach that person the ins and outs of following Christ. The greatest contribution you can make to the history of the church is to bring someone to Christ, and then teach that person how to bring others to Christ, in such a way that they can bring still others to Christ.
We’ve now seen the answers to two questions that are crucial for us as individuals and us as a church. As the pastor, it is my duty to not only daily commit myself to following Christ, and not only daily allow Him to change my heart, but it is also my duty to impart the truth of the Bible into each and every one of you. And you know what, each of you have that solemn duty, as well. My number one goal for this church is to develop an atmosphere where each member is doing their part to not only grow closer to Christ themselves, but help other people grow closer to Christ as well.
And while, in a way, I am supposed to lead the church in this area, it is each one of our jobs to commit ourselves to growing closer to God, and to commit ourselves to entrusting the gospel to other people, and then teaching those other people how they can pass along the greatest message ever told. My prayer for each one of you is that you will follow Jesus to the best of your ability, you will be changed by Him, and you will become fishers of men. And if you would like to talk more about being discipled or about discipling other people, I invite you to stop by my office any time. Helping you in this area will be one of the most fulfilling things I accomplish as a pastor. And you helping others in this area will be one of the most fulfilling things you accomplish as believers.
And if you are here this morning, and you have never committed your life to following Christ, I invite you today to make that choice for the first time. The Bible says that the moment you place your faith in Christ, you will be saved from your sins. Following Christ is not always easy. For many throughout history following Christ was almost the equivalent of signing their death certificates. But while my life has not always been easy, I cannot imagine myself feeling any more joyful than I do right now, and that joy is only because Jesus Christ has forgiven my sins, and has given my life meaning. If you would like to commit your life to Christ, I invite you to do that right now, right there in your pews. Or if you aren’t quite ready, but you would like to talk more about following Christ, I invite you to talk to myself or any one of our members here. Sharing the gospel with you would be our greatest honor.
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