Matthew 4:18-22 – The Cost of Following Jesus

John Carter – November 12, 2017

{MUSICA THEOLOGICA TRANSLATION}

Walking around the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (the one called Peter) and Andrew (his brother) throwing a casting-net into the sea; for they were fishermen [sailors]. And he said to them, “Come! Follow after me, and I will make you fishermen [sailors] of men [people].” They immediately abandoned their nets— they followed after him.

Moving-along there he saw another two brothers, James (the one of Zebedee) and John (his brother) in a boat with Zebedee, their father, repairing their nets. And he called them. They immediately abandoned the boat and their father—they followed after him.

{MANUSCRIPT}

All throughout the Bible God presents himself as the initiator of relationship with his people. Every communication God has with any person or people in the Biblical narrative is initiated by God. God is systematically the caller throughout the Bible. This is true of us today as well. God calls, we respond. He is the actor, we are the responder. This is again demonstrated in MT 4:18-22 where Jesus is presented as walking upon Simon, Andrew, James, and John and initiating a conversation and issuing them a command. This should startle us. God is not responding to our need for him. God is declaring to us our need for him. Our role is to acknowledge his communication and call.

In this short passage, we learn about the call of Jesus. The call is to follow him. No prayer. No aisle. No card. No music. Just leave your work and follow Jesus. Too often we complicate this scenario with unnecessary or even unbiblical details. My challenge to each of us sitting under the authority of this text is to ask, what has following Jesus cost me? Real cost, not inconsequential cost. What marks your life with a holy-devotion of commitment to Jesus. David Platt said it this way, “People who claim to be Christians while their lives look no different from the rest of the world are clearly not Christians.”[1]

What are you doing that following Christ will force you to give up? Change (Catch fish to catch men)? Abandon (tools, work, family)?  What will following Christ cost you? King David refused to give anything to God that did not cost him the full price (2 Samuel 24:24). In the same way, we cannot claim to have picked up a cross to follow Jesus if we still dictate the terms of following Jesus. Your life is not your own. Once you pick up your cross you are not even free to choose when you live or even when you die. Jesus said at one point that if you follow him and look back you are not worthy to follow him (Luke 9:62). In other words, if Jesus doesn’t have your everything then you’re not his.

Later in Matthew, Peter is going to ask Jesus about how much he and his business partners (Luke 5:10) have given up (19:27), to which Jesus replies that their sacrifice (8:19-22) has (and will continue to) resulted in abundant blessing and suffering.

Starting at the beginning of 2018 we are going to move into the sermon on the mount. These will be very difficult sermons to preach and even to hear. Because it will be in these sermons that we will be confronted with the cost of following Jesus. We will learn that following Jesus isn’t just about giving up the things of this world, but also the attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs of this world too.

Most importantly, we are going to learn how to do two things. First, we are going to learn how to become fishers of men (people). Second, we are going to learn the commands which we are to teach to others (28:19-20). If the kingdom of God is truly like fishing (13:47-50), then we are going to need to spend some more time with the Master fisherman in serious study. If we trivialize the cost of following Jesus, then perhaps we are not truly following Jesus.


[1] P.18 – David Platt – Follow Me