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Sermon 6
Matthew 4:12-25

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Sermon 6: Matthew 4:12-25
Jesus Begins His Public Ministry
December 3, 2023


Hi, my name is Philip, a servant of God from Beggars Breaking Bread, and I will be reading, teaching and preaching from Matthew 4:12-25.


Scripture (Matthew 4:12-25, CSB)
When he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:


Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, along the road by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.
 

From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
 

As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately, they left their nets and followed him.
 

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
 

Now Jesus began to go all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Then the news about him spread throughout Syria. So they brought to him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics. And he healed them. Large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
 

This is the word of the Lord.

Let me ask you a question.

 

Do you remember the day when YOU got “the call”?
 

The call…maybe it was a phone call, maybe it was an email, maybe it was a text message, or maybe it was a visit from someone…
 

Regardless of what it was, when you received it, you knew that your life would never be the same.
You knew that your life would take on a different direction and that encounter changed your life forever.

 

What was that “call” for you?
 

I had a number of these “calls” in my life.
 

There was one call, a phone call that I received before my senior year in college.
 

I was in my bedroom, minding my own business, when I received a random phone call from a 212 area code.
 

212 area code. That’s the area code for Manhattan in New York City.
 

Before that call, I had just finished a summer internship with a prominent Wall Street firm, and I was hoping that the firm would extend to me a job offer to work with them full-time after I graduated from college.
 

I knew this call was coming. I just didn’t know when.
 

I also didn’t know what was on the other side of that telephone.

 

Would it be a “Congratulations”?

 

Or would it be a “We’re sorry to inform you but…”?
 

When I received that call, ringing from my flip phone, I instantly got nervous when I saw the number appear on my Caller ID. Within a couple minutes, I knew I was either going to have a really great day or a really bad day.
 

After the second ring, I picked up the phone. I said hello and listened to the person on the line. A couple minutes later, wiping tears from my eyes, I thanked the person for the call and hung up the phone.
 

Next thing I knew, I screamed at the top of my lungs that startled my mother, who was in the kitchen at the time. She later would tell me that she thought, from the high pitch of my scream, that I had foolishly cut off my hand by accident.
 

She ran to the bottom of the stairs, asked me what happened. And I told her.
 

Your son is going to work on Wall Street next year. 
 

At that moment, I knew my life would never be the same.
 

We all have had moments that we would never forget. Moments where the trajectory of our lives instantly changed, and we knew that life would never be the same for us going forward.
 

That is what we witness here in this passage as Jesus starts His public ministry, in particular when He calls out His first disciples to begin this ministry with them. They knew that their lives will never be the same after encountering Jesus.
 

Because when we encounter Jesus for ourselves, we cannot un-see what we read. We cannot un-hear what we heard. We cannot forget what we had experienced firsthand for ourselves. At that moment, we had to make a decision that would change our lives for the better or for the worse. 
 

Will we follow Jesus and trust that He is who He says He is and do what He commands us to do?
 

Or will we ignore Jesus’ radical call for us to become His followers, dismiss Him as simply a good teacher and follow someone else – or even ourselves – on how to best live our lives as a part of our worship?
 

As we will learn from this passage, Jesus is calling us out of the dark to follow Him and to bring others into the Light out of darkness also.
 

That is the main takeaway from today: Jesus is calling us out of the dark to follow Him in the Light, while bringing others into the Light out of the darkness also.
 

From this passage, Jesus is calling us to respond to Him in three ways:


1.    Jesus is calling us out of the darkness that we are in, into the Light with Him
2.    Jesus is calling us to choose Him first and to become His disciples
3.    Jesus is calling us to engage in the three parts of His ministry to others: teaching, preaching and healing.

Let’s explore how Jesus is calling us out of the darkness that we are in, into the Light with Him.

 

And the Bible says, in verses 12-17: When he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, along the road by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
 

At the time of this passage starting, Jesus finds out that John the Baptist was arrested. If you remember previously, John the Baptist is the man who helped prepare the way for Jesus by baptizing people and preaching his simple sermon: “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven is near.” He also baptized Jesus, where we see the moment that all three persons of God interact, as Jesus comes up from the water, the Holy Spirit comes down unto Him like a dove, and God the Father shares that this is His Son, of whom He is well-pleased.


Once Jesus finds out about John the Baptist, he does not go back to Nazareth, but instead goes to Capernaum in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. As the Bible shares with us, this movement fulfills another prophecy of Isaiah from Isaiah 9:1-2.

 

Once again, this is important for the author Matthew to note explicitly, as he shares with his Jewish audience further proof that Jesus Christ is the Messiah that the Jewish people of the Old Testament had been waiting for, as prophesized by the prophets in the Old Testament.
 

Here Jesus was in the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, in Galilee, the land of the Gentiles. These Gentiles lived in spiritual darkness, for they did not know of the Lord, compared to the Jews. In the midst of such darkness, God had a plan to shine a light in their lives, exposing the Gentiles to a better Way through Jesus Christ and to a relationship with God.
 

Carrying on from John the Baptist, Jesus preaches the same simple sermon in verse 17, proclaiming: “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Jesus tells the people to repent and turn away from their sins, and instead turn to God and to trust and follow Him.

 

What was once reserved and kept for only the Jewish people was now being shared outside the Jews and extended to the Gentiles, as part of God’s higher plan to bring those living in the dark spiritually into the Light through the public ministry of Jesus Christ.
 

While it was dark in the world of these Gentiles where Jesus began His ministry, we must acknowledge that we still live in a dark and fallen world still today. There are millions of people that do not know of Jesus, and many more who have heard of Jesus but have rejected Him. It is part of God’s plan for all to know Jesus to the ends of the earth before Jesus comes back again. 
 

And you are part of God’s plan.

 

We once were in the dark, ignorant of who God is and what He has done for us through His Son Jesus. Once we were enlightened, we could never claim to be in the dark again once exposed. Just as He did back then in Galilee amongst the Gentiles, Jesus wants to lighten up the dark areas within us. In our lives, we often encounter moments of darkness—times when despair, doubt, or hardship seem to cloud our vision. Jesus, the Light of the world, calls us to recognize His presence in the midst of our challenges. 
 

For we have been broken by the many challenges we have experienced living in this fallen world…
 

Broken by our own sinful nature and the sins of others..
 

Broken by believing in false gods and unfaithful idols that only disappoint us in the end…
 

Broken by a sense of hopelessness when we look around and see how dark our world really is without God…
 

Just as He chose Galilee, Jesus chooses to meet us in our moments of brokenness, shining His light into the depths of our souls. But we must make a choice on how we will respond when His light comes to our darkness.

This leads us to our second point: Jesus is calling us to choose Him first and to become His disciples.

 

Let’s review verses 18-22: "As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately, they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."
 

While walking along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus finds his first four disciples. These four fishermen receive the call that would forever change their lives.
 

The first two – Simon Peter and Andrew – hear Jesus’ call to “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Before this call, Simon Peter and Andrew were professional fishermen. They fished for a living. That was how they supported themselves and their families. Now, all of a sudden, Jesus comes around and disrupts their lives by asking them to follow Him.
 

And what do they do in response?
 

The Bible says in verse 20: Immediately, they left their nets and followed him.”
 

Not next year.
 

Not next week.
 

Not even tomorrow.
 

Immediately.
 

Immediately, they left their nets – their way of providing for themselves and putting food on the table to eat – and followed Jesus to provide for them a greater purpose than simply fishing for fish, but to fish for people for Jesus.


I want you to be honest with yourself. You don’t have to tell me…
 

If Jesus came to you in-person, face-to-face right now, if He called you, if he texted you and called you to follow Him, would you stop what you were doing, immediately, and follow Him?
 

There had to be something significant about what Jesus was offering, for all four fishermen – Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John – to leave their careers, their possessions, and even their families to follow Jesus and serve God.
 

Would you be willing to leave your job or career to follow Jesus?
 

Would you be willing to leave behind all your materialistic possessions and partner up with Jesus in His ministry?
 

Would you be willing to even put Jesus first over family, especially those who don’t believe, in order to serve God?
 

I acknowledge these are all tough questions with even tougher decisions to make. 
 

And that is what Jesus is calling us to do.

 

This is His radical call for us to choose Him first and to be His disciples. We must be willing to abandon our comfort zones, when called, and embrace this transformational journey following Jesus Christ.
 

Jesus calls each of us to partner with Him towards a higher purpose and mission: to fish for men and women for the Kingdom of God.

Dr. Tony Evans best summed this up when he said: “If you’re not fishing, you’re not following. If your Christian life does not involve evangelizing the lost, you’re not functioning like the disciple Jesus intends you to be. Not every believer is called to a full-time Christian vocation, but every believer is called to be a full-time Christian.”
 

Let me ask you this: are you a full-time Christian fishing for people for the Kingdom of God?

When we take on this higher purpose and mission from Jesus, we partner with Him today in serving within His ministry. And this brings us to our final point: Jesus is calling us to engage in the three parts of His ministry to others: teaching, preaching and healing.
 

The Bible says in verses 23-25: "Now Jesus began to go all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Then the news about him spread throughout Syria. So they brought to him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics. And he healed them. Large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan."
 

As Jesus began His ministry, he focuses on teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. He taught the content of His message. He preached the good news, while calling for a response from listeners after hearing the content of His message. And Jesus healed the people as a visible demonstration that He truly was from God, while showing His concern, compassion and care for those He ministered.


These three actions exemplify the holistic nature of Christ's earthly mission. His teaching imparts wisdom and understanding, His proclamation of the kingdom offers hope, and His healing touches the brokenness both in body and spirit. 
 

While we may not be Jesus ourselves, as His followers and disciples, we are called to emulate these aspects of Jesus’ ministry every day in our loving service to God and to our neighbors. We are to engage in the transformative power of God's Word, share the good news with a broken world, and extend Christ's healing touch to those hurting and in need.
 

We may not have all the gifts of teaching, preaching, and healing, but God has gifted us with something to serve.
 

Maybe your gift involves caring for children and teaching them during Sunday School or kids’ ministry at church…
 

Maybe your gift involves leading a Bible study in your small group or preaching to your congregation…
 

Maybe your gift involves sharing the Gospel with those who do not know Jesus at work, in the neighborhood, or within foreign environments…
 

Maybe your gift involves providing a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a warm meal breaking bread with a person who is in need of God’s love and good news…
 

God has gifted us with the gifts to serve His people, doing our part to fish for men and women for the Kingdom of God.
 

One thing to note as well is the variety of people that Jesus served initially in His ministry. In verse 24, the Bible says how news about Jesus spread throughout Syria. And as Jesus healed people of all types of sickness and ailments, verse 25 says that large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis (also known as the “Ten Towns”), Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
 

Taken together, this was a diverse group of people coming to see and follow Jesus. We have Jews and Gentiles, as well as people from different regions. The crowds that followed Jesus from various regions represent the diversity of humanity yearning for a message of hope and healing. Jesus is seen as the Great Unifier because His ministry is open to all peoples, regardless of nationality, race, gender, language, ethnicity or creed. 
 

This is why we have Christians who believe and follow Jesus in all parts of the world, as God had planned it back then, now, and in the future as stated in Revelation 7:9-10: “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”


For us to fulfill this biblical vision of what Heaven will be like, as with the new heaven and the new earth, reunited with Jesus Christ and all believers, we must daily do our part in teaching, preaching and healing within Jesus’ ministry to fish for people that are in the spiritual darkness now, so that we can bring them into the Light as Jesus did for both Jews and Gentiles back then.

I remember, when I received another call in my life, that would change my life forever.

 

I had recently graduated from seminary and was serving in my local church. At the time, I was on the audio / visual team making sure the lyrics for the worship songs came on screen at the right time, coordinating the preacher’s sermon points to come on at the right time during his preaching, and keeping our Facebook broadcast up and running even when the wireless Internet was less than faithful some Sundays.
 

One Sunday, I felt a prompting from God.
 

At the time, I felt like I could be doing more for God, in addition to leading a small group previously and doing the worship slides each Sunday morning.
 

I wanted to preach and share the Good News about Jesus.
 

I just did not know how, when, and in what way.
 

And to be honest, not knowing was frustrating.
 

And then, during one Sunday service, God reminded me of Moses when He asked him what he had in his hand in Exodus 4. God asked me what I had in my hand to work with. God had given me a mouth to speak, eyes to read, two ears to listen to God and my neighbors, a mind to think, and a heart to love people as God loved me.
 

God prompted me to start this ministry of Beggars Breaking Bread. To take what I had and do my best to faithfully preach through the Bible, starting in the Gospel of Matthew, to share the Good News with both unbelievers and believers to help do my part to fish for men and women for the Kingdom of God.
 

And like those four fishermen, my life has never been the same since obeying God’s call to preach the Gospel online.


For the rest of my life, I want to make sure I am doing my part to fulfill Jesus’ ministry of teaching, preaching and healing those who are spiritually lost in our dark and fallen world to bring them back into the Light, to repent, and follow Jesus.
 

What about you?
 

Have you received the call from Jesus to lay down your nets and follow Him?
 

God has a plan for your life, and He wants you to be a part of His mission to fish for the people around you.
 

But first, you have to answer His call. How will you respond today?
 

Do you trust Jesus today to follow Him and to believe in the Word of God?
 

Jesus loves you. 
 

If you’re not yet a believer, I believe that Jesus is calling you to Him right now. And He wants you to come as you are, flaws and all, and put your trust not in yourself but in Him. He will forgive all of your sins and help you become more like Him, so you can take part in His ministry to teach, preach and / or heal those around you in our spiritually dark world.
 

Of all the things I have done in my life, following Him is the best decision I ever made. And I want you to make the best decision in your life too.
 

All we have to do is ask Jesus into our hearts and make Him the Lord and Savior of our lives.
 

If you’re ready to take that step, would you pray this prayer with me: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe that you came from Heaven to Earth to live, die and rise again just for me, so that my sins may be forgiven. I trust you with my life. By faith, I make you my Lord and Savior. Thank you for your love and sacrifice. In Jesus name, Amen.
 

If you prayed that prayer, let me be the first to congratulate you on the best decision you could make in your life. Let me also welcome you to the family, as the angels in Heaven are rejoicing on you coming back home. I encourage you to find a local, Bible-based church to connect with and to join its community as you do life and Jesus’ ministry together with other believers.
 

If you already are a believer, and you want to do your part within God’s mighty plan to fish for people for the expansion of the Kingdom of God until Christ returns, please share this message with someone who does not yet know Jesus.

 

God has a great plan for you, and it involves bringing the spiritually lost back to God through Jesus Christ. 
 

Let us continue the good work ahead of us to globally spread the Good News about Jesus Christ and to welcome more into His family.

 

God bless you for watching, listening to or reading this sermon. Thank you and take care.

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