Matt. 4:17 ¶ From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Notice when Jesus preached, He said repent. The idea of repent is to change directions. In other words, you’re going one direction, then you go the opposite direction.
Then Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was at hand. This is why He wanted people to repent. Up to that point, people had been following various things, but from this time forward, Jesus wanted them to follow the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 4:18 ¶ Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
Matt. 4:19 And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Matt. 4:20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
We see that Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. Here we see the Sea of Galilee on a map. We see that Capernaum was on the north edge of the Sea of Galilee. We also see Nazareth. Nazareth is where Jesus grew up.
It was about 20 miles from Nazareth over to Capernaum. It’s about 13 miles from the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee down to the southern edge. That gives you an idea of the size of the Sea of Galilee.
On this map the colors indicate different elevations. The white and browns are the higher elevations. The dark greens are the lower elevations. The light greens are in between. You can see that the Sea of Galilee sits down in a bowl. It was surrounded by hills.
This is a picture of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum is off to the left at the other end of the sea. In the background you can see the hills that rose up from the edge of the Sea of Galilee.
The green area to the right of this picture is where the water flows out of the Sea of Galilee, into the Jordan River, and down the Jordan Valley into the Dead Sea.
Notice in verse 18 that Jesus saw two brothers. This is the passage where Jesus started calling His disciples. Verse 18 talks about Him calling Peter and his brother Andrew. It’s interesting to think about the disciples and that some of them were brothers. That would have brought some interesting dynamics to that group of 12 men.
Jesus went to Peter and Andrew and said, “Follow Me”. Then we see the word immediately. Immediately, Peter and Andrew dropped what they were going and started following Jesus.
From our perspective, this seems a little strange. It seems strange that a stranger would walk up to these two men who had a job and an occupation; and that these two men would follow this guy when He simply said, “Follow Me”. But I believe in their culture, this was somewhat normal.
As we read the Bible and understand what it meant to be a rabbi, it was normal for rabbis to walk around teaching, and to have a band of followers. When you look at it that way, it was not unusual for Jesus to go to these fishermen and say, “Follow Me”. If they recognized Him as being a Teacher, it would have been normal for them to follow Him.
Notice the word immediately in verse 20. The text says they followed Him immediately without hesitation.
Matt. 4:21 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.
Matt. 4:22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
Jesus went to two other brothers. Again, it’s interesting to think about the dynamics of the disciples and to think there were two sets of brothers amongst those 12 men. That would have brought some very interesting dynamics to that group.
In the case of James and John we see that they were working with their father. The text tells us that Jesus called James and John just as he called Peter and Andrew. Again, we see the word immediately. James and john followed immediately without hesitation.
The text specifically tells us they left their father. Try and look at this from their father’s perspective. Here he was, a fisherman. He had this business and his sons helped him. All of a sudden his two sons left him and he was left by himself. In our culture, that seems very strange. I think in 1st century Judaism it was not as odd or strange to do that as it would be in our culture.
Then we see that James and John followed Jesus.
Let’s think about this concept of following Jesus. In the case of Peter, Andrew, James, and John they did it literally. Jesus was walking around the Sea of Galilee area doing various things, and they literally followed Him and walked after Him.
But the word follow also has a less literal sense. It’s also the idea of obeying a certain moral code or set of rules.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
Phil. 3:17 ¶ Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
The brethren were not literally walking after Paul. Instead, they were imitating his example. They were learning how Paul behaved and then behaving accordingly.
2Tim. 3:10 ¶ Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,
This was not a reference to Timothy traveling with Paul, although that did happen from time to time. Instead, Paul was talking about knowing his teaching, conduct, purpose, and so on, and then acting accordingly.
1Tim. 5:15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.
Here we see the opposite of what Jesus wants us to do. There were some people who were following Satan. However, the call from Jesus is to follow Jesus not Satan. That ties in with the concept of repentance. When you repent, you stop doing one thing and you start doing something else. In this case, repent means to stop following Satan and start following Jesus. Stop living your life the way Satan wants you to live, and start living your life the way Jesus wants you to live.
2Pet. 2:2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
This is not literally following a person around. Instead it’s doing what your sensuality tells you to do.
2Pet. 3:3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,
This is something else we should not do. Some people follow their lust. That means they do what their flesh tells them to do. That’s the wrong thing to do. We should not follow our lust.
We see in Matthew 4:17-22 that Jesus went out and started calling disciples. He said to them, “Follow Me”. The disciples literally got up, left their business, and followed Jesus. They walked where Jesus walked.
For us the concept of following Jesus is similar and yet different. It’s not iterally walking to a particular place. Instead, for us following Jesus means to live our life the way Jesus wants us to live. That means obey His rules. Look at things the way He looks at things. Have the same values and priorities that Jesus has.
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