Follow Me And I Will Make You

Preached The Evening Of January 25, 2017 at Riverview, 798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia, TN

matthew_4_12t20_follow_meMatthew 4:12-20 (KJV)12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by {Isaiah} the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 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. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

Jesus’ Ministry Did Not Begin In Earnest Until John’s Ministry Ended

The Bible tells us that:

Mark 6:20 (KJV) … Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

Though Herod enjoyed hearing John’s preaching he would not repent. So when John told Herod “it is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” Herod threw John in prison. Jesus was in Nazareth. Hearing this Jesus did not hide, but moved toward the darkness. The Light does not hide from the darkness, but confronts it, drives it away. As Jesus moved guided by the Spirit of God the Bible says that His movements were

Matthew 4:14 …. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by {Isaiah} the prophet …

There’s something very interesting here. Matthew inspired of God quotes:

Isaiah 9:2 (KJV) The people that WALKED in darkness have seen a great light: they that DWELL in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

But God through Matthew changes the text slightly. He writes:

Matthew 4:16 The people which SAT in darkness saw great light; and to them which SAT in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

God wrote the Bible, so God can change the words if He wants. God changed “the people that WALKED in darkness” to “the people that SAT in darkness” because this is what darkness and evil does.

When You WALK In Darkness It Drains You, And Eventually You SIT In Darkness

… hopelessly hoping someone will save you. The Bible is clear that:

The wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23)

sin when it is finished it brings forth death (James 1:15)

In Isaiah’s day the people WALKED in darkness. Now many years later the nation is stagnant. The people walked, wandered, and now SIT in darkness.

They are used to the darkness.

Evangelist Vance Havner once preached “People get so used to the dark that they think it’s growing brighter”. Just as the person in physical darkness will adjust to it over time, those in darkness now SIT in darkness and are satisfied to DWELL in darkness.

John was a single star of light in the midst of that great darkness. But now he is imprisoned for speaking the truth. It looks as if the darkness has won. But it has not. As the father of John the Baptist prophesied:

Luke 1:78-79 (ESV2011) … because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

John went to prison, and the sun, it seemed, set. It looked as if evil would win. But blessed be the Name of the Lord our Heavenly Sunrise came. As He walked from Nazareth to Galilee and ever closer to Jerusalem the darkness departed. As Christ came He preached the first word of that glorious Gospel:

Matthew 4:17 (KJV) From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

 Jesus BEGAN to preach. The word “Began” is the Greek ἄρχομαι archomai which means He started preaching, making this the preeminence. Jesus focused on that word:

Repent

μετανοέω metanoeō – META (change) + NOEO (mind). “Change your mind”. You are SITTING in darkness. Quit sitting in it. Get up, and move toward the Light. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. You have a decision to make. You can WALK in darkness till it takes your strength away, then SIT in it until you DIE. Or you can change your mind and go to Jesus. You can run to His embrace. Jesus told those Jews who would reject Christ:

John 8:12 (ESV2011) … I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life….

John 8:23-24 (ESV2011) …. You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.

Here is the Sunrise of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. He comes demanding “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. Time is fleeting. Do not hesitate. Run to His arms, loved Him as He loves you. “Repent”.

Preaching “Repent” Jesus Now Illustrates It

Matthew 4:18 (KJV) 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.

Jesus sees two fishermen casting their net into the Sea of Galilee. Jesus walks to where they are, and says to them …

Matthew 4:19 (KJV) …. Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

There are two parts to what Jesus said. There is a COMMAND, and there is a PROMISE. The two go together. The COMMAND is “Follow Christ”. That is what the believer must do. You stop following self, and begin to follow Christ. You bind yourself to Him. Jesus told us:

Matthew 11:28 (KJV) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Most people stop at this point.

All right, I am burdened,

so I will go to Jesus and He will give me rest.

He will kiss my boo boo. He will make me feel better.”

But this is not where Jesus stopped. He said:

Matthew 11:29 (KJV) Take MY YOKE UPON YOU, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Jesus did not call these fishermen to come to Him like He was a HOSPITAL or like He was a GROCERY STORE or like He was a WALMART. No, Jesus said “Follow Me”. How can God transform the lowly fishermen into Apostles? They must follow Him.

It seems to me as if our Beloved Baptists are always looking for another program, another method, another thing to do to impact our world. I am not saying that programs are necessarily bad. But listen Beloved, until you Follow Jesus He will not make you into anything.

Following Jesus Means That He Is Most Important

Jesus said “Follow ME”. Let Christ be your focus. Work is important, but following Christ more important. I want you all to prosper, to be blessed, to have material and physical needs met. But following Christ must be the most important. Jesus told these fishermen “Follow Me”. What did they do? Did they say

Let us get washed up, then we’ll follow.

Let us put up our fish, and we’ll follow.

Let us string out our nets to dry, and we’ll follow.

No, they did none of these things. The Bible says:

Matthew 4:20 (KJV) And they STRAIGHTWAY left their nets, and followed Him.

These men were tired of sitting in darkness. They STRAIGHTWAY left their nets. They dropped the nets where they were. If you know anything about fishing nets you know that if they are dropped on the grounds and left in piles they will rot. These men didn’t make excuses. We read that:

Matthew 4:21-22 (KJV)21 And going on from thence, {Jesus} saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

These men not only left the family business, but they left the ship and their father. Jesus said:

Luke 14:26 (KJV) If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

The American Church has modified this Scripture to make it suit our culture. I have heard preachers say “Jesus really didn’t mean hate, but to love less. And you can be saved but not a disciple.” I’m sorry, but you are putting words in Christ’s mouth. “Hate” means “to choose one over the other”. The Bible says of Jacob and Esau:

Romans 9:12-13 (KJV) {God told Rebecca} … The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

The word “hate” means to leave one to prefer another one. James and John left their father holding the net by himself. They heard Jesus and ran toward the light. Zebedee could have come as well, but chose instead to stay where he was. The people who sat in darkness saw a Great Light. Zebedee kept sitting, his sons ran toward the light.

Jesus must be first. Jesus will be first. We are told in:

Matthew 8:18-22 (KJV) Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. … 21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Zebedee stayed with the boat and lost the Light. The man in Matthew 8 wanted to go bury his father before serving Jesus, and missed the boat! If you be blessed of Christ you must “Follow Him”, separate yourself unto Him.

Following Jesus Means Following Jesus, Not The World

Jesus said “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men”. You cannot be fishers of men if you are in the same element as those men.

Fish do not fish for fish.

When I go fishing, I pull fish out of the water to where I am. I don’t jump in the water, but pull them out. One reason that the Church is so ineffective in America today is that there is as much world in the Church as there is in the world. The worldly Church and the worldly Christian cannot convert the world. When you were saved Jesus said “Come follow Me”. The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 6:17-18 (KJV) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

And James sharply said:

James 4:4 (NASB77) You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

The moon shines brightest when it is closest to the sun, but as the world comes between it and the sun the moon shines less and less. The same is true for the Child of God. Christ calls “Follow Me”, not “Follow Me and the world”. Follow Christ in His love for God’s Word. Jesus is called “The Word”.

John 1:1 (NASB77) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Why is Jesus called “The Word”? Because Jesus wrote the Bible. He loves the Bible. He is “the Word became flesh”. His movements were directed by the Word. The reason that He left Nazareth and went to Galilee was because the Word directed it.

He was born of a Virgin because God’s Word said so.

He was born in Bethlehem because God’s Word said so.

He became flesh because God’s Word said so.

He ministered where God’s Word told Him.

When He was 12 years old He taught the Word to the Scribes in the Temple.

Jesus lived, loved, and laid His life down because of the Word.

How many of you have your cell phones with you tonight? Don’t raise your hands, just think. Now, how many of you have the Bibles you study during the week with you tonight? How many of you will read His Word outside of the Church? How many of you carry His Word to work with you? How many have His Word in your hearts?

He said “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men”. When we follow Him – not the world but Him – then He promises to use us as catalysts to change a darkened world. Jesus reached out to sinners, but never became part of their sin. He is:

Hebrews 7:26 (KJV) …. holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

Christ never bound with the darkness. We are to cling to Him as a branch clings to the Vine. The world will hate us for it, but who cares what the world thinks? To live with Christ is the best way to learn how to win souls. Learn soul winning at His feet. He has said “Follow Me, and I WILL MAKE YOU fishers of men”. Jesus asked 12 men to follow Him, to cling to Him, to receive Him as Lord and Savior.

11 followed and became Apostles.

1 tagged along, and ended up murdering himself.

As Peter said Acts 1:17-18 (KJV) {Judas} was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

There is a difference between FOLLOWING and BEING IN PROXIMITY. Judas was in proximity with Jesus, but Judas was like many of Israel, of whom Jesus said:

Matthew 15:8 (KJV) This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME.

Jesus calls us to FOLLOW Him, not just with our bodies, but with our hearts. To receive Him, His Words, His behavior. Following Jesus means to IMITATE GOD, for Jesus is God.

To Follow Jesus Is To Both Imitate And To OBEY Him

When Jesus said “Follow Me” He expected immediate obedience. Christ is to be Master and Lord of everything in our lives.

John 14:15 (KJV) If ye love me, Keep My Commandments.

John 14:23-24 (KJV) … If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

Do not say that you love Jesus yet will not do what He says. What He says is in this Book, this Bible. When you follow Christ in love then The Spirit of God comes to indwell you. The Father and the Son come to you, and take up residence in your life. As you obey Jesus, as you follow Him by reading & meditating on His Word and by praying, God comes to you and fills you. The Light of God grows in you. And you become fishers of men.

Our community and our America will only change when we commit to Follow Him, to cling to Him, to love Him above all else. Here is the Way to victory, blessed believer. Follow Him, and He will change you. May God through His Spirit drive this Word home to our hearts.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. I am looking for the Church. Most of what I see today is not the Church, but clubs, where members sit in padded pews and drink deeply of self. I am looking for a people willing to be righteous not self righteous, serving not served, In short, I am looking and praying for a people who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. I hope I find this people before it's too late.
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