Beckett: Commentary on Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus Calls His First Disciples

Matthew 4:18-22
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. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 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. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.

Jewish students seek the rabbi they wish to study under (much like Ph.D. students at Concordia Seminary). Jesus, the Rabbi, is rather unorthodox here. Instead, He chooses His students. Why? Who knows? He does as He wills. Why would Jesus call the impulsive Peter or the impatient me? Who knows? He does as He chooses.

Here, then, we also see the function of His salvation. No one chooses Jesus. Not even His own disciples did. Either the command, “Follow Me,” is given, and one obeys; or the promise of the Gospel is received, the Holy Spirit does His work, and one cannot help but follow. What else can one do when they have been given life? A corpse cannot get up and walk on its own (cf. Ephesians 2:1).

Jesus calls fishermen to be fishers of men. There is significance to His pun. They caught fish with their nets. So they would catch many men (and lose many) with the Gospel. When fishing with a net in these times, you won some and you lost some. So it is with the Gospel—you win some and you lose some. I have lost friends and family in my living and preaching of the Gospel, but I have also gained many souls (by God’s grace) and have gained new friends and family. The Lord provides.

The disciples would gain 3,000 souls at Pentecost by the end of Peter’s sermon (Acts 2:41). Indeed, these disciples became fishers of men in their own ministries as they proclaimed Christ crucified, a tradition that continues to this day.

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