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Weekly Bible Study
“Matthew 4:18-22 Pt. 1”
by Art Sadlier   
November 7th, 2010

Fishing for Men

"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 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.
 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him."
Matthew 4:18-22

In our text we see our Lord`s great purpose for the world begin to unfold. That purpose is that...

A - Men may be reconciled to God.

B - Men may play a significant role in bringing about that reconciliation.


The following is an oft repeated parable of what the church's concern for evangelism has often been. On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks were frequent a crude little life saving station was built. The building was just a hut. There was only one boat and a few dedicated crewmen who kept constant watch over the sea. Without thought for themselves they went out day or night, tirelessly searching for any who might need help. Many lives were saved by these devoted men.

After a while the station became famous. Some of those who had been saved, as well as others in the surrounding area wanted to become part of the work. They gave time and money for the support of the work. New boats were purchased, additional crews were trained, and the station grew.

Some of the members were unhappy that the building was so crude. They felt that a nicer, larger place would be more appropriate as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots with hospital beds, and put better furniture into the enlarged building.

Soon the station became a popular gathering place for its members to discuss the work and to visit with each other. They continued to remodel and decorate until more and more the station took on the appearance of a club.

Fewer members were interested in going on life saving missions. They hired professional crews to do the work on their behalf. The life saving motif still prevailed on the club’s emblems and stationary. They put a liturgical life boat in the room where the club had its initiations.

One day a large ship was wrecked off the rocky coast. The hired crew brought in many boatloads of cold wet half drowned people. They were dirty, bruised and in desperate condition with clothes that were tattered and torn. At the next meeting there was a split in the club membership. Most of the club members wanted to stop the life saving activities altogether. They felt that they were an unpleasant hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some of the members wanted to keep the life saving activities. They were voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives they could begin their own life saving station down the coast somewhere else. So they left the club and began a new life saving station.

As the years went by the new station gradually faced the same problems the old station had encountered. History repeated itself over and over and if you visit that coast today, you`ll find a number of life saving station along the shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

What a striking illustration of the church!  We need to face up to the fact that the work of life saving evangelism is the heart of the purpose God. God has placed the church in the world for the work of fishing men out of the sea of sin. The work of rescuing people from the breakers of hell is the greatest work the church is called to do.

Listen to the heart cry of Jesus.... "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Matthew 23:37

"And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it," Luke 19:41.

1 - The Call to Salvation.  It is recorded in John 1: 35-51.

A - The stirring of God`s spirit in their hearts.

Andrew, Peter, James and John had been motivated to go and hear John the Baptist preach. Evidently they had spent some time listening to John and had spent some time following John. Their spiritual appetite had been whetted by John`s message. God`s Spirit was at work in their hearts.

Then one day after having preached much about the coming Savoir,John stood beside the Jordan River and pointed his finger at Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."  Verse 37 simply says, "And the two disciples heard Him speak and they followed Him."  Our lives and our preaching ought to do that! It ought to cause men and women to follow Christ.

These two were Andrew and John and they spent the remainder of the day in Jesus company. Something wonderful happened to them that day. They would never be the same again! The next day, Andrew reported to his brother what had happened to him, "we have found the Savoir, the Messiah."

B - The Mark of Salvation is the Desire to Share Christ with Others.

Andrew went and brought his brother Peter to Jesus. John went and brought his brother James to Jesus.

I remember at a youth retreat, ther was a big foreboding  looking teen named Nigel Maher. Nigel at first rejected the gospel. Finally at midnight he received Christ. Nigel went home and brought his twin brothers, Colin and Phil, to Christ.

Have you ever had the thrill of leading someone to faith in Christ?

2 - The Call to Service

At least six of the Lord`s disciples initially answered the call to salvation. They had followed Christ to Jerusalem and Judea during the first phase of His ministry. Then Jesus returned to Nazareth for a time. His disciples then returned to their homes and their fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Josephus says there were about 240 boats that regularly fished the lake in the first century. Suddenly after a period of time Jesus appeared on the shore again.

The record tells us that a crowd gathers around Jesus. The crowd is so large that Jesus asks Peter to pull his boat out a little from the shore and there Jesus uses his boat for a pulpit. As Jesus preaches Peter sits quietly, gently pulling on the oars to keep the boat facing the shore.

While Jesus preaches Peter listens. O how he listens! No doubt the other disciples were nearby listening. The words of Jesus penetrated and stirred their hearts and souls. They realized that the words of Jesus were the words of life that men and women everywhere needed! Later Peter would say. “Lord....thou hast the words of life.”

Then the message was over and the crowds were gone. Then Jesus surprised Peter.  “Simon, launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  Peter`s answer came back, “Master, we have toiled all night and have caught nothing.”   As far as Peter understood fishing, it was useless to fish at this time of the day. Listen to Peter`s words, “Nevertheless at thy word, I will let down the net.” I think that is beautiful! Peter was learning the first and most important lesson he would ever learn as a fisher of men. Unquestioned obedience to the master is absolutely essential for those who would follow Him.

And then it happened, suddenly the waters were alive with fish, swirling and thrashing to get into Peter`s net! One moment in the school of a miracle taught Peter that this one who had the words of life, was the source of life. He could give life to men and women everywhere.  Suddenly Peter knew that the world needed Jesus!

They brought their boats and fish to shore and in a few moments the excitement died away. Jesus looked at Peter and Andrew and said clearly and invitingly to them, “Follow me and I will make you to become fishers of men.” In that moment Peter launched out to become a fisher of men.

Then Jesus walked down the shore toward James and John who were now washing their nets. He called unto them, “Follow me and I will make you to become fishers of men.”

Though at times, the same disciples seemed dull of hearing and slow to understand Jesus, yet in that moment they understood. They understood that Jesus had come to call men and women everywhere to life eternal, to call men and women into His kingdom.

Perhaps some of the most beautiful words in scripture are the words that follow. “And when they had brought their boats to land they forsook all and followed Him.” Oh! Listen! Jesus comes to all those who name His name, He does not call all to full time service; but He does call all to follow Him! He does call all to die to the things of the world and all its allurements and follow Him. To follow Him in the great task of world evangelization!

Have you heard His call? Are you following Him? Are you committed to our Lord`s great program, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  Every believer is called to become a fisher of men.


Many years ago an Italian recluse was found dead in his house. He was known to have had a considerable amount of money. When his friends were going through his house to sort out his possessions, they made an interesting discovery. They discovered 246 very valuable violins. They were crammed into the attic. He had spent all his money buying the violins. His misdirected devotion had robbed the world of their beautiful sounds. Because he selfishly treasured those violins, the world never heard the beautiful music they were meant to play.

Many Christians treat their faith like that man treated his violins. They hide their light, like a squirrel which hides his acorns instead of sharing them. How tragic for a believer not to share his life in Christ with others who are going to an eternal hell!

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