Matthew 4:18-22 — Come, Follow Me. And. I Will Make You. Fishers of Men. — Jesus Says A Lot In Just One Sentence

Posted: September 17, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 4:18-22 — Yesterday, we used the illustration of a painter telling stories with their paintings that tell us much more that just the obvious. Today, let’s think about musicians and poets. They choose their words very carefully. There is an economy of words when it comes to songs and poetry. By their nature a poem or a song is not supposed to be a novel. They are intended not to be lengthy discourses like a novel where the novelist can flesh out his thoughts at whatever length he chooses. In a song or a poem, every word counts. There are no wasted words. Every word can carry great meaning. Every phrase can represent something. It is funny that when people write about a powerful song or poem, they use more words than are in the poem or song itself. Every word and/or phrase in a song or poem often carries vast meaning. I think you could say the same thing about what Jesus says in this passage. The sentence that Jesus utters, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This sentence is being a Christ follower in a nutshell. Each word or phrase packed with meaning.

The first word that Jesus says is “Come.” As my daughter and teacher, Meghan, would tell you this is an elliptical phrase. In elliptical phrases, there are words left out because the writer and the reader already understand what the left-out word is supposed to be. In this phrase used by Jesus, the “you” is understood. It would read, “You come” if fully fleshed out. Thus, Jesus’ phrase is personal. You come. Not the guy next to you. Not your neighbor. Not someone you can assign to do your duties. He call us to follow Him individually. Jesus’ call to us is personal. It is one on one. You have to make a choice, a decision. Jesus does not come grab us and make us become his followers. We have free will to accept or reject Him but the invitation is personal. We cannot come to the end of our lives or the end of all things, whichever comes first, and claim ignorance to his personal call. We must all deal with Jesus at some point in our lives. “You come”. It is personal. Jesus is speaking directly to you. What will your choice be? Will you accept the fact that Jesus is the Son of God or will you reject Him and make yourself your own god and miss the covering of grace offered by Jesus?

The next point is where Jesus says, “follow me”. Here is the rub for most people. To follow someone is to get behind him. Follow me is packed with powerful ideas. To follow someone means that you are admitting that you do not know where you are going. It is like when you drive your car and you meet a friend in their car so that you can follow them to a specific location. Your friend knows how to get there and you don’t. To follow is to give up control and follow another. It is admitting that we do not know and we are dependent on that other person to show us where we need to go. Following means too that we are submitting to the leadership of another person. If you are behind another and following them, you are following their leadership and you are not out front leading. If they zig while you are following them, you must zig. If they zag, you must zag. In order to continue following them, you must imitate what they are doing. You must follow their example. You must repeat what they are doing. Is this not what Jesus wants us to do. He wants us to follow Him. He wants us to submit to His leadership. He wants us to admit that we do not know where we are going and that we need Him and need His leadership over our lives. We must do what He does. We must imitate what He does. Follow me, he says. We must submit to Jesus’ Lordship over our lives. It is through giving over control of our lives to Jesus that we find salvation and it is in following His leadership that we find our meaning and purpose. It is in following Him that we begin the process of thinking of others more than ourselves. It is in following Him that we see the gospel, the Good News, that must be shared.

The next word is “and”. It is the conjunction that makes these two independent phrases together – “come, follow me” and “I will make you fishers of men.” The “and” is important. It means that one thing follows the other. We must first submit to Jesus’ leadership before the second thing can happen. It is only when we are followers of Jesus first that our eyes are opened to the eternal future of others. It is only when we are followers of Jesus that we even care about others truly. Without Jesus, all of our good deeds and all of our love is done out of self-centeredness. What are we getting out of it. We have payback principles for everything we do. We measure what we do by the personal payback that we get out of it. The “and” indicates that once we submit to Jesus, our transformation from self-centeredness begins. When we submit to Jesus we are giving up our self-control over our lives. When we give it up to Jesus, only then can transformation into an eternally minded person can begin. The submission is first. And. the next thing happens.

The next thing that is important in this economy of words, this power packed sentence is when Jesus says, “I will make you..” Isn’t this essence of being a Jesus follower. It is the make you, the transformation, that Jesus performs in us through the Holy Spirit that is the point of this phrase. Under Jesus’ leadership and through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus transformed a group of lowly fishermen solely concerned about eeking out a living and living lives of self-centered pursuits into the most powerful force known to mankind. Jesus transformed them into men who spread the name of Jesus across the Roman Empire and to places outside it. These often clueless men became giants of the faith. Jesus does the same thing for you and me. When we accept Him as our Savior and He sends the Holy Spirit to live in us, we are transformed. We are made into something new. Our slate is wiped clean of the condemnation to hell for our sins. We are daily transformed into the likeness of Jesus by the sanctification of our souls by the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes us into something new.

Finally, Jesus says, “fishers of men”. We are made into fishers of men. No longer do we simply care about meeting our own needs. We are no longer confined to seeing things from a simple feeding myself point of view. We look now beyond the boundaries of our individual lives. Before we submit to Jesus and follow Him, all we really care about is getting what we need. We are fishers of fish. Getting what I need. Seeing life only in that fashion. We are focused solely on the water where our fishing net is and getting the fish we need. Now, we are made into a person who cares beyond himself. He makes us into people who seek to see God glorified in everything. He makes us into people who care about social issues and works to see people freed from the chains of sin and oppression. We are transformed into people who care about the eternal fate of others. We are transformed into people who share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others because we care that much about where others spend eternity. We are transformed into people who are not do not just accept the everchanging morality of the world in which we live. We are transformed into people who cling to the eternal and unchanging truths of God’s Word. We see the world beyond the borders of what we need for ourselves. We see the world beyond the borders of what makes us happy. From having our eyes opened to our own eternal destiny in hell without the covering of Jesus, we become people who desire to see others have their eyes opened to Jesus as well. We become a people who want to see God glorified through saved souls who shine the light in the darkness. We fish for more than just our own needs. We seek to see God glorified by a world that has come to give Him glory through the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We are made into fishers of men.

How much power is there in this one sentence. It is the Christian faith in one sentence. Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. One sentence that changes the world.

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