Immanuel Baptist Church – March 4, 2018


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As we continue to go through the Gospels chronologically,

we’re looking at the events

in life and ministry of our Lord Jesus

in the order in which those events occurred.


This morning we’ll look at

Matthew Chapter 4, Verse 13,   

to see what happened

after Jesus’ visit to the town of Nazareth,

where he had grown up.


We’re about a year into Jesus’ ministry on earth.

He had spent most of that first year

in and around Jerusalem

in the Roman-occupied territory of Judea.


Last week we saw how Jesus returned to his home town, Nazareth,

only to be rejected by the people there,

because they were lacking in faith.

They held him in contempt

as the boy next door,

who had grown up to be a carpenter,

and whose family still lived in the town.


Their familiarity bred contempt,

and they rejected Jesus—

even trying to kill him

by throwing him down a cliff.


So, Jesus moved on.

He moved and took up residenc

in a nearby town.


We read about that now in Matthew Chapter 4,

beginning at Verse 13.


13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake

in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—


Capernaum was about 15 or 20 miles northeast of Nazareth,

on the northern end of the Sea of Galilee,

which the Bible also calls the Lake of Gennesaret,

or the Sea of Tiberias—its Roman name.


The Sea of Galilee is roughly 8 miles across and 14 miles long

and is around 150 feet deep at its deepest point.


The town of Capernaum on the northern shore,

and was a fishing community, like New Bedford.


All of these towns Jesus visited—Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum—

were in the Roman-occupied territory of Galilee.


The Romans divided the Promised Land

into three main administrative districts,

with Judea to the south, around Jerusalem,

and Galilee to the north,

with Samaria in between.


Hundreds of years before the Roman conquest

those two northern territories—Samaria and Galilee—

had comprised the northern kingdom of Israel.

Due to their unfaithfulness,

God had sent the Assyrian Empire to conquer them.

And the Assyrians deported

much of the Jewish population

and replaced them with pagan Gentiles

from other conquered lands.


Many Jews were left remaining in Galilee,

and other Jews returned there after their captivity,

so the area was more Jewish than Samaria.


But the Jews in Jerusalem still viewed Galilee

as somewhat polluted by the Gentile presence.


And the Judean Jews viewed the Galileans

sort of as ‘country bumpkins’

back woods rednecks—

not quite up to par

with the Jews of Jerusalem.


Still, that’s the area where Jesus chose to do

most of his earthly ministry.


And Matthew 4, Verse 14, tells us[  OPEN  ]

that God foretold Jesus’ Galilean ministry

through the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.


Beginning at Matthew 4:14, we read

that Jesus went to live in this area,


14 to fulfill what was said

through the prophet Isaiah:


15 "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,

the way to the sea, along the Jordan,

Galilee of the Gentiles--


16 the people living in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of the shadow of death

a light has dawned."


So, the darkness of pagan Gentile influence

was brightened up

by the presence of the Son of God

preaching Good News in that

previously God-forsaken land.


So, we know where Jesus was preaching—in Galilee.


And the next verse tells us what Jesus was preaching.


17 From that time on Jesus began to preach,

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."


The kingdom of heaven was near

because its King was near.

Christ the King was present among them.


The dictionary tells us,

“repentance” means to feel sorry for past conduct,

to regret or be conscience-stricken

about past actions and attitudes—

with such sorrow

as to want to change one's life for the better.


Jesus was calling his audience everywhere to repent.


And that was the theme of his preaching

to the very end.


After his resurrection, the risen Christ

appeared to some of the disciples on the sea shore,


At Luke 24, Verses 46 and 47,


46 He  told  them,  "This  is  what  is  written:

The  Christ  will  suffer 

and  rise  from  the dead on the third day,

47 and   repentance  

and   forgiveness   of sins 

will  be  preached  in  his  name

to  all nations,

beginning at Jerusalem.


So, Jesus told his disciples to preach all over the earth

repentance and forgiveness of sins.”


And they obediently did that.

When the Apostles preached,

they called on their listeners to repent.


In Acts Chapter 2, Verse 38,

Peter concluded his sermon to Jews on the day of Pentecost

by saying,

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you

in the name of Jesus Christ

for the forgiveness of your sins.”


In Acts Chapter 17, verse 30,

the Apostle Paul concluded his sermon to the men of Athens

by saying,

“In the past God overlooked such ignorance,

but now he commands all people everywhere

to repent.”


In Acts 26:20 the Apostle Paul says,


“First to those in Damascus,

then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea,

and to the Gentiles also,

I preached that they should repent

and turn to God and

prove their repentance by their deeds.”


So, according to Paul,

a person “proves their repentance by their deeds.”


They stop stealing from the boss at work.

They stop sleeping with their girlfriend, or else marry her.

They quit getting high with recreational drugs.

They quit getting drunk.


Unfortunately, it has become popular today

for churches to preach forgiveness of sins

without repentance.


In his book The Cost of Discipleship,

German Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer

condemned “the preaching of forgiveness

without requiring repentance” as “cheap grace.” 


He called it “cheap grace”

because such preachers offer forgiveness

without the cost of repenting from sins.


Such “cheap grace” is not the message Jesus preached.

Jesus called people to “repent.”


Getting back to Matthew Chapter 4,

where it tells us in Verse 17 that


Jesus began to preach,

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."


The next verse, Matthew 4:18 says,


18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee,

he saw two brothers,

Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.

They were casting a net into the lake,

for they were fishermen.


Peter and Andrew were already disciples of Jesus—

and so were their partners in the fishing business,

James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

John the Baptist had introduced them

almost a year earlier.


So, they already looked up to Jesus as their teacher,

their rabbi—the rabbi they looked up to.


But they were still engaged full-time

in their fishing business.

They had homes there in Capernaum, near the sea shore.

And they had family there.


We don’t know which of them were already married at this point—

only Peter.

And we know Peter was already married,

because around this time,

Peter’s mother-in-law

was sick in bed with a high fever,

and Jesus healed her.


If you’re not married,

you don’t have a mother-in-law.


And Paul mentioned later at 1 Corinthians 9:5

that the other Apostles took their wives with them

on their missionary travels.


So, Peter, Andrew, James and John

were already disciples of Jesus,

but besides caring for their families,

they devoted most of their time

to their secular work, their fishing business.


All of that was now about to change.


Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell us what happened next,

but Luke gives us the most detail,

so let’s move over to Luke’s Gospel.


We find these events in Luke, Chapter 5,

in the portion we read for this morning’s responsive reading.


So, it’s printed out there in the bulletin insert.


Beginning at Luke 5, Verse 1, we read,


1 One day as Jesus was standing

by the Lake of Gennesaret,

with the people crowding around him

and listening to the word of God,


2 he saw at the water's edge two boats,

left there by the fishermen,

who were washing their nets.


3 He got into one of the boats,

the one belonging to Simon,

and asked him to put out a little from shore.

Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.


Simon Peter must have been happy to oblige.

Sound really carries over water,

and his rabbi Jesus

was going to use Peter’s boat as his pulpit.


Luke 5:4 continues,


4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water,

and let down the nets for a catch."


5 Simon answered,

"Master, we've worked hard all night

and haven't caught anything.

But because you say so, I will let down the nets."


6 When they had done so,

they caught such a large number of fish

that their nets began to break.


That would have been a lot of fish.

They always kept their nets in top shape

to handle as many fish as they could catch.

But this catch was unbelievable—over the top.


Verse 7 says,


7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat

to come and help them,

and they came and filled both boats

so full that they began to sink.


8 When Simon Peter saw this,

he fell at Jesus' knees and said,

"Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"


The disciples were slow to realize who Jesus really was.

But this event hit home for Peter.

He suddenly realized that this rabbi

his brother Andrew had introduced him to

was something more

than a miracle-working rabbi.


Peter began to grasp

that he was in the Divine presence of the Son of God.


So  he fell at Jesus' knees and said,

"Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"


Verse 9 continues,


9 For he and all his companions were astonished

at the catch of fish they had taken,


10 and so were James and John,

the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners.


11 Then Jesus said to Simon,

"Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men."

So they pulled their boats up on shore,

left everything and followed him.


The parallel account in Mark Chapter 1,  Verse 17, 

adds the detail

that Jesus said,

"Come, follow me,

and I will make you fishers of men."


That was a big step to take,

for young men in the prime of life,

to suddenly abandon their secular jobs

and take up full-time ministry.

It required a leap of faith.


But Jesus showed them they could confidently take that leap

without fear that they would not be able

to provide for their families.


They had worked all night, in their own strength,

and with their own skill as fishermen,

and caught no fish at all.

But when Jesus gave the word,

they caught more fish than they had ever seen in their lives.


That taught them

that having their daily needs met

depended on God’s provision,

more than on their own labors and skills.


They were immediately convinced

that they could put themselves in God’s hands,

without fear of going hungry.




But something else was at work here, too—

not just a calculated decision

to give up secular work

and take up full-time ministry

because the dollars-and-cents economics worked out.


There was also the question

of what was the most important thing

in these men’s lives.


Was it their secular career as fishermen?

Or, was it their relationship with God?


These fishermen all assigned God the highest priority.


In Matthew, Chapter 13, [  OPEN  ]

our Lord Jesus gave two brief parables

to illustrate how important God should be

in our lives.


By their decision to leave their nets and follow Jesus

they showed themselves

to be like these two men in Matthew Chapter 13.


Beginning at Matthew 13:44  Jesus said,


44 "The kingdom of heaven

is like treasure hidden in a field.


When a man found it, he hid it again,

and then in his joy went and sold all he had

and bought that field.


45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven

is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.


46 When he found one of great value,

he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.


When those four fishermen

left their nets to follow Jesus full-time,

they showed that the kingdom of heaven

was real to them.

They showed that the kingdom of God

was so important to them,

that they would give up their careers

to follow Jesus.


Is the kingdom of God that important to you?


Not everyone is called to do that.

Jesus doesn’t ask everyone to quit their jobs to follow him.


But if he drops a fortune in your lap,

like he did with that miraculous catch of fish,

are you ready to put your talents to work

for his kingdom?


And whatever way he blesses you,

with a lot or a little,

do you recognize that he is the source of your blessings,

rather than take credit yourself?


Most Christians keep doing secular work.


And that is as it should be.


Relatively few are called to full-time ministry.


But he does call all of us to repent,

and to leave our sins behind.


And he may call on us to make other changes in our lives,

as we grow and mature in the church.


As challenges and changes and opportunities

come up in our lives,

let’s keep before us

the example of those four fishermen

who left their nets to follow Jesus.