The Scriptorium

The Big Frogs

Jesus calls His first disciples. Matthew 4.18-20

Matthew 4: First Steps (3)

Pray Psalm 42.1-3.
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”

Sing joyfully Psalm 42.1-3.
(Nettleton: Come Thou Fount)
As the deer pants for fresh water let my soul, Lord, pant for You!
Let my soul thirst as it ought to for the Savior, ever true!
Tears by day have been my portion, tears by night have been my food,
While my foes add to my sorrow, saying, “Where now is your God?”

Read Matthew 4.1-20; meditate on verses 18-20

Prepare.
1. Who were the first disciples? What was their occupation?

2. What did Jesus promise in calling them?

Meditate.
The defeat and binding of Satan was an important first victory in Jesus’ work. The next would be almost as big.

There’s an old saying that goes, “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it. If you have to swallow a lot of frogs, start with the big one.”

This is what we see Jesus doing in these first twenty verses of Matthew 4. Having swallowed the big frog by defeating the devil, He now takes up the second big frog: winning disciples.

For Jesus to heal diseases, calm the seas, give sight to the blind, even bring people back from the dead – as marvelous as these seem to us, they were not His greatest challenge. His greatest challenge would be taking back His own life from the grave, as we shall see. But winning a human soul is a great challenge as well, and requires a miracle of God, which only Jesus can accomplish.

Human beings, after all, have what winds and seas and diseases don’t have – a will. And the human will is bent, corrupted, and focused inward because of sin. For Jesus to exert power over a human will, so that people willingly and gladly come to Him, is a remarkable and miraculous achievement. It requires a work of God’s Spirit in the inner person, transforming us from one kind of being into another, from one domain into another, and from one focus to another.

And Jesus accomplishes it with a simple, powerful Word: “Follow Me.”

Peter and Andrew were not the sort of people one might select to begin a world-changing movement. Neither are you or I. But Jesus knew what He was doing with them, and He knows what He’s doing with us. He is working in us to make us “fishers of men.” Peter and Andrew seized on that image, although they could not possibly have understood what it meant. Like them, we are called to be fishers of men, to reach the souls of people – lost and saved – and point them to Jesus. If we can help people to see Jesus, like Peter and Andrew did, He’ll take it from there.

These men were so compelled by Jesus’ call that they left their work and went after Him. This was not their first encounter with Jesus (cf. Jn. 1.40-42), and it would not be the decisive one for Peter (cf. Lk. 5.1-8). But Matthew wants us to understand that following Jesus means being willing to surrender everything for the sake of taking up His calling and agenda.

We’re not all called to leave our occupations, families, or settled way of life. But we are all called to follow Jesus, and to reach out to the souls of people around us with the Good News of His Kingdom and righteousness.

Reflect.
1. How would you explain what it means to be a “fisher of men”?

2. Why do you think Peter and Andrew followed Jesus so immediately?

3. How would you explain to an unbelieving friend what it means to follow Jesus?

So the Lord chose fishermen who in a better way of plying their fishing trade were converted from earthly to heavenly fishing, that they might catch the human race for salvation like fish from the deep waters of error, according to what the Lord himself said to them: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Chromatius (fl. 400), Tractate on Matthew 16.2

Today, Lord, I go as a fisher of men into my Personal Mission Field. Help me to…

Pray Psalm 42.4-11.
In times like these, it can be easy for our souls to be cast down. Look to Jesus, and call on Him. Let His Word, like the sound of mighty waves and billows, surround, buoy, and protect you for the day ahead.

Sing Psalm 42.4-11.
Psalm 42.4-11 (Nettleton: Come Thou Fount)
Now I pour my soul out in me as these thoughts come to my mind.
And I long to once again be where true worship I might find.
Oh my soul, be not despairing!  Hope in God, and praise His Name!
For the Lord, your burden bearing, will restore your peace again.

Oh my God, my soul is weary, therefore I remember You.
Let Your grace and goodness near be, and Your promise, firm and true.
Lord, when trials and fears surround me, Your commands will be my song;
When distresses sore confound me, Your great love will keep me strong.

Lord, forget me not in mourning ‘neath my foes’ oppressing hand.
See their mocking, hear their scorning; help my weary soul to stand.
Hope in God, praise Him forever when despair on you has trod.
Look to Jesus; never, never doubt your gracious, saving God.

T. M. Moore

We are pleased to offer Worship Guides for use in your family or small group. Each guide includes a complete service of worship, and they are free to download and share by clicking here.

What really happened in the wilderness? What did Jesus accomplish? Our book Satan Bound: A Theology of Evil, can help you to understand more completely the magnitude and importance of Matthew 4.1-11. Order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore