Sunday, March 9, 2008

Matthew 4:21-22 The Messiah calls disciples II

We can fake religion and piety. It’s possible for us to live like a Christian when everyone is looking. One thing we cannot do is generate saving faith within ourselves or create a desire to follow after God out of our own affections. How we respond when Christ calls is the “proof in the pudding” that shows whether we are truly one of His sheep. As we read these verses, we see the response of those with genuine faith to the call of the Messiah into service.

After Jesus had called Peter and Andrew, He continued walking “He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother” (Matthew 4:20). I think it is interesting to note how these men were spending their time when Christ came to them on His divinely journey. First of all, as Matthew records, they were “in the boat with Zebedee their father”. These men, like Peter and Andrew, were fishermen. Unlike Peter and Andrew, they worked with their father. They worked as a family in a fishing business and that business was probably quite profitable. At least, the Bible seems to suggest that the family was fairly well off. We note, for example, in Mark 1:20 that there were also servants who worked with them and their father. I would imagine, then, that these guys had it made. I mean, their dad was the boss, business was doing pretty well, and they would likely inherit the family business when he passed on. ]

However, we see that these men were not lazy, lecherous bums who were mooching off of their father. In fact, when Jesus saw them they were “mending their nets”. The English word “mending” translates the Greek work “katarizo” which can mean “to repair”. However, it can also mean “fully” or “perfect” (Luke 6:40). It could have been that these men were preparing their nets for the next time they would go fishing. In any case, they were busy. People who work for themselves in a business such as James or John never really seem to have time off in my experience. I had a Sunday School teacher at the church that I pastured who was a farmer. If he wasn’t in the field, he was repairing equipment. He was always working. I, on the other hand, now work 4 days a week and when I’m off work, I am off from work. I might check email to see if an auditee had answered back with some information I had requested but I am not doing any real work. Of course, when I get to work, I have plenty of things waiting for me. These men didn’t have supervisors and they didn’t have people telling them what had to be done. They knew what to do and were busy doing their work.

Jesus finds these men being industrious rather than sitting idle. Matthew records that Jesus “called them” without quoting the exact words that Jesus used. However, we see the response of these men in verse 22. Because they were His sheep, when He called, they responded with obedience. They left their comfortable life with their business and their father. In fact, they left immediately. Certainly, God expects us to love and care for our family. We should remember, however, that our highest priority is to serve Christ. There should be nothing—jobs, friends, family—that should interfere with our service to Jesus Christ. In fact when we compare our love for Christ to our love for others, our love for Christ should make that love look like hate (Luke 14:26).

Does our response to the call of Christ in our lives demonstrate that He is our highest priority and that our loyalty to Him is our first loyalty? Let us soberly ask ourselves that question as we reflect on these verses.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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