The Weekend Word
Last week we finished off on one of the 2 great transition verses in this gospel – “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (4:17)
Look at Matt 16:21 – “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Now we are going to see Jesus Call the First Disciples
- What is a disciple? A follower of a certain teacher or teaching.
- They become imitators of the original Rabbi / Teacher
18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.
- While walking – Imagine all the walking these folks did – the terrain. To us this is the epitome of a tough life. To them it was what you did.
- Sea of Galilee = only fresh water body besides the Jordan River.
- 13 miles by 8 miles at its largest dimensions.
- They were fishermen – it seems odd that Matthew would make this clarification, but I think he is making it clear that they were following their vocation.
19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
- Now this isn’t like “a stranger walked up and said ‘Follow me’ and like zombies they did.”
- The 2 sets of brothers have already met this Jesus.
- They may have had a previous call – like when Andrew brought Peter.
- But now they are being called to a specific ministry. – ‘Fishers of Men’
- But you don’t just become a fisher of men – you need to be called to follow Jesus and HE will make you a fisher of men.
- And we will see throughout a call to an office.
20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
- Immediately – they just get up and leave. They leave all that they have to follow… or did they?
- What would you have to leave?
21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.
22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
- Again – immediately
- Imagine Dad Zebedee looking around trying to figure out ‘what happened?’
- Think about this – we many times hear the “fishers of men” as an evangelistic verse but here it is following Jesus to become fishers of men.
- How God uses you will determine what part of fishing you are.
- God used Jonah as bait.
- Now think of this – they left everything, but they still had everything – they still have their houses, mother in laws and other relationships – they were able to go back to their businesses later.
- This is really a matter of priority.
- Many make the mistake of thinking of Jesus as their example, their life coach. The kingdom is manifest in me.
- This is not the case – the reign of God is not set up or presented as an augmentation to our own present existence. It is not an add on or only part of our lives.
- From the Matthew Commentary – “It is folly and destruction to think that old wineskins can serve as containers for new wine. The kingdom, the power and the glory are his, now and forever.”
- “Into that larger reality, individual men and women are claimed and called by Jesus, graciously, freely. No one, however, can come to him without acknowledging his authority to call and to call unconditionally (16:21-27).”
- He is the Lord – his call is ‘Come after ME (4:19)
- Come after me – follow me – walk behind me, go where I go, see what I see.
- In the end, Jesus in his theology of the cross is promising one thing only – death.
- We will see more about the call and the formation of the 12 apostles when we get to chapter 10.
**Jesus Ministers to Great Crowds – What follows is kind of a summary of his entire ministry **
23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.
- Teaching in the synagogues = he is teaching where the word of God would be read.
- People come to hear – Jesus comes to speak = a pretty good match.
- What is this preaching “the gospel (the good news) of the Kingdom”?
- Jesus uses the method that should still be used today – make the people aware of their sinfulness, their total lack of ability to get themselves out of the mess and then tell them of God’s merciful forgiveness.
- Healings back then would catch your attention.
24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.
- Where is this Syria? Was it a part of a larger Israel as we can see in the time of David? Is this just saying, throughout the northern most regions of Israel?
- Isaiah’s Suffering Servant – who will free the captives – makes the blind see – the lame walk and the deaf to hear.
- These people need it all and Jesus does it all.
25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
- They followed him from everywhere to everywhere.
- This verse (25) is not a part of 23 & 24 and really should be at the top of 5:1.
This is the crowd that Jesus sees as he approached the mountain (5:1)
Excellent lesson MLD. Thank you!
A note on my note about disciples – it seems that all the teachers had them and formed their own groups. What Jesus does here is not unusual — as it seems that the Pharisees and the Herodians both had disciples – It could be Matt 22:15-16 – “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher,…”
It could be in some towns, if the works of Jesus had not preceded him that the town would think “oh no, here comes another group of disciples — what are they selling?”
Like when you are driving up to your house and you see groups of JWs on both sides of the street. 😉
I think there was something unique about Jesus’ disciples. His disciples did not study up and try to earn a place in His “school.” Jesus did what he always does, creates what he wants.
But to the community, it’s just another teacher gathering a following – the people paid attention because of his mighty works which gave credibility to the words that followed.
I think that it is important in light of what is being said on the Things I Think thread, that I am sure that the 1st century Middle East was a brutal time and place – but as we work our way through this gospel, told to us by Matthew, that Jesus never mentions the violence of society, but keeps marching towards the violent death he is to face.
an interesting ponder… but what do we do with Matt 11? His kingdom isn’t violent, but the violence mentioned, did it end when our Lord was crucified?
Em, that passage in 11 is a difficult passage – but we do know 2 things – it is a spiritual violence and whoever are the “violent take it by force” they are the good guys as only the good guys get a piece of the kingdom.
MLD, perhaps, but does “taking” mean ‘defeating’ in this case? i’m not sure… we have seen violence against the Kingdom of God throughout the ages… they want this Kingdom gone
we are skating on the edge of a place we don’t want to go as we have the jihaddis (sp?) whose minds are given over to violence thinking that they can do just that… bring in their god’s kingdom by force – by unprecedented world-wide carnage
i’m willing to just ponder this one… wait and see, perhaps?
Em, it is the Kingdom of God that does the taking – no bad guys take anything.
When we say the gates of hell will not prevail – it’s not a statement that we have anything to fear from hell, it is that Jesus, through his kingdom cannot be stopped by the gates of hell – Jesus marches in and takes whoever and all that he wants from hell.
It’s like Matt 12:29 and the binding of the strongman – Jesus has bound satan and is stealing his good (us)
As I say, it is a difficult passage but it is all good for our side.
for clarity’s sake
total agreement that the gates of hell do not/cannot prevail against the Kingdom of God… prayer helps in pushing those gates … IMHO
i guess i should look up the word translated ‘take’ before i comment… many of God’s children have been taken and killed by the “bad guys” – yet, i don’t interpret that as meaning that they’ve ‘won’ anything or even prevailed against the Kingdom
“The KJV translates Strongs G726 [take – harpzo] in the following manner: catch up (4x), take by force (3x), catch away (2x), pluck (2x), catch (1x), pull (1x).”
no… i guess i will have to continue to lean 🙂 in the direction of the violent ones attacking the Kingdom with the intent of it’s removal – even taking away the mortal lives of some of its citizens – but i still don’t see that use of ‘taking’ as victorious or even prevailing … delusional thinking may tell these violent people that they are victorious; they’re not…
but i’d like to violently take the Kingdom away from their attacks, so… if you’re right, i’ll go along
Em, how can they attack it / take it? The kingdom is not of this world – what are they doing, grabbing at the air?
The following quotation is from Ben Witherington III’s Commentary on Matthew. He explains the negative language about a positive thing consistent with what MLD is saying. Witherington is not Lutheran, but Methodist, but on this text, they appear to agree.
“In light of the incarceration of John, the saying could mean John and perhaps Jesus had suffered from having violent men lay hands on them, in John’s case to try to silence him, in Jesus’ to try to make him king (cf. John 6:15). This is not impossible as a reading of the text. But if Jesus is using negative language to talk about a positive thing, he might mean former Zealots, outcasts, sinners were storming the gates of the Dominion and eagerly grabbing hold of its riches. This makes sense in light of the response of Jesus to John when he was in jail. It must be remembered that Jesus had at least one or two former zealots amongst the Twelve.9 In any case, this saying attests to the volatile atmosphere in Galilee in which Jesus and John operated. It also makes clear that Jesus sees the Dominion as a present entity that can be acted on. Since the Dominion is
already present, the turn of the era has already come.”
all above thoughts on this have weight … IMHO … but
i believe that the violent have taken the Kingdom many times… however, i also believe that they have never prevailed… to wax poetic, down through time they die on the hills that they have taken – they can not and will not prevail – their attacks, the ground they think they’ve gained (taken), is – ahem – all sinking sand
#11 – “The kingdom is not of this world – what are they doing, grabbing at the air?” yeah, that
God’s Kingdom IS in the world, but stronger/eternal and most definitely not OF this world…
I am not the kingdom so it anyone kills me for the faith, they have not attacked, taken or killed the kingdom.
This is one reason that a literal 1,000 yr physical kingdom is silly – people living in and watching the perfect reign of God, the perfect life for 1,000 yrs and then one day decide – let’s take over.
MLD, you do represent the Kingdom, even though you are correct in declaring that you, yourself are not the Kingdom – i wont debate whether you are indeed a member/citizen of it…
that said, if you are attack, killed even, because some element dislikes/hates the Kingdom – that Kingdom that you argue for and do represent is what they are after – if you live in a time where the civil powers wish to rid themselves of their Christian element, the violence that you suffer and the taking of your liberty or your life would have been because of the Kingdom…
just nuances? mebbe – dunno