Follow Me

Matthew 4:19

Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

A Christian hymn you might be familiar with has the lines, “I will follow, follow Thee My Lord, follow every passing day.  My tomorrows are all known to Thee My Lord, I will follow you today.”  Another hymn has the line, “I traveled down a lonely road and no one seemed to care.  The burden on my weary back had bowed me to despair.  I oft complained to Jesus how folks were treating me, and then I heard Him say so tenderly.  My feet were also weary as I traveled Calvary’s road.  The cross became so heavy, I fell beneath the load.  Be faithful weary pilgrim, the morning I can see.  Just take My hand and follow close to Me.”

  1.  The call of the disciples

Matthew 4:18-22 – And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.  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. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Matthew 8:18-23 – And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 9:9-13 – As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.  Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Mark 2:14 – As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.

Luke 5:27 – After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.”

There are several stories we could talk about in these brief passages, but the story I want you to see in each of them is as follows:

  • In the first story, Jesus called Peter and Andrew to leave their life’s occupation, their means of support and follow Him.  He told James and John to do the same, to leave their life’s occupation, their means of support as well as their father and follow Him.
  • In the second story, Jesus saw two disciples who were eager to follow Him.  Jesus told them both that they would have nothing if they followed Him.  The second one He told basically to not let anything, even the death of a loved one, prevent him from following Jesus.
  • In the last three scripture portions Jesus called Matthew, also known as Levi, the tax collector, to leave his very lucrative occupation and his sinner friends and follow Him.
  • The words of a hymn state, “Jesus is tenderly calling today, calling today, calling today.  Why from the sunshine of love will you roam farther and farther away?  Calling today, calling today.  Jesus is calling, is tenderly calling today.”
  • It does not matter what your occupation is, where you live, what your social standing is.  Jesus is calling for you to follow Him.  You may to need to leave your occupation, leave your family and friends, your grief and certainly your sin behind.  Make no mistake.  Jesus calls to each of us and He wants nothing else but for us to follow Him.  He calls all of us to follow Him in a closer daily walk with Him. 

The Universal Call – What is Required?

Mark 10:21 – Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Matthew 10:38 – And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

Mark 8:34-37 – When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Luke 14:27 – And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple

Luke 9:23 – Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Luke 9:61-62 – And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”  But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

In these brief passages, you must go back and read several verses to get the full impact of the story.  Basically Jesus is calling us to follow Him, but more than just follow Him.  He is calling us to a life separate from the world and wholly His.  This means more than saying “yes” to God and “no” to sin today and then going our way and forgetting all our promises to Him.  He is calling us to more than being baptized or joining the church or just sitting in the pew.

  • He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him.
  • He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross DAILY and follow Him.
  • He says that unless we forsake all, unless we forsake family, occupation, cares of the world personal desires, rid ourselves of everything, take up our cross daily, deny ourselves and follow Him, we are not worthy of Him.
  • This is a big thing He is asking.  Or is it?  Basically all He is asking is for us to put Him first in our life.  To put Him before riches, family, things of this world.  Is that too much to ask if we are to be His disciples, especially after what He did for us on the cross.
  • Jesus found Phillip and Phillip found Nathaniel.  He asks us to reach others.
  • He said His sheep will not follow a stranger, only Him.  We cannot listen to others.  What He speaks to us we must listen and follow in obedience.  If you have doubts about who is speaking to your heart, consult Him in prayer and in His Word.  The enemy would not call you to follow Christ.  It is Christ who calls you today.  Do not turn Him away.

The hymn referred to at the beginning continues with this line:

“I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss.  My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross.  Just take my hand and follow, follow Me.”

Revelations 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  

What Water Baptism is All About

Matthew 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”

But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus came to John to be baptized. 

  • He identified with John’s message:  Repentance is necessary.
  • He identified with John’s message:  Take a stand for what is right.
  • He identified with John’s message:  Live a life of repentance and righteousness.
  • He came to be baptized:  To give us an example.
  • He came to be baptized:  In the form of sinful flesh.
  • He came to be baptized:  To fulfill all righteousness.
  • He came to be baptized:  To show humility.
  • He came to be baptized:  To show need.
  • He came to be baptized:  To show submission.

In this passage of Scripture there is an example of two baptisms.

  • John’s Baptism – repentance/water
  • Jesus’ Baptism – power & authority/Holy Spirit & fire

Historical significance

  • Washing with water
  • Anointing with oil

Exodus 29:4-7 – And Aaron and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall wash them with water. Then you shall take the garments, put the tunic on Aaron, and the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the intricately woven band of the ephod. You shall put the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban. And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him.

Lessons from Jesus’ Baptism

  • Need of repentance and a life of righteousness.  Every man should repent and live the life of righteousness, and every man should proclaim such a life to other men.        

Acts 8:22 – Repent of these evil thoughts and ask God to forgive you.

Isaiah 55:7 – Give up your crooked ways and your evil thoughts.  Return to the LORD our God.  He will be merciful and forgive your sins.

1 Corinthians 15:34 – Be sensible and stop sinning.  You should be embarrassed that some people still don’t know about God.

1 John 1:3 – We are telling you what we have seen and heard, so that you may share in this life with us.  And we share in it with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

  • Righteousness.  Every man must determine to “fulfill all righteousness” just as Christ did.  God’s commands must be fulfilled in the life of each believer.

1 John 3:23 – And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another.

  • Sacrifice.  Every believer should be willing to give of himself for the cause of Christ – even to the point of death.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world; but transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Luke 9:23 – And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.

  • Humility.  Every believer should show a willingness to serve others. 

1 Peter 5:5 – All of you younger people should obey your elders.  In fact, everyone should be humble toward everyone else.  The Scriptures say:  ‘God opposes proud people; but he helps everyone who is humble.’

  • Identification.  Every believer should be as one with others, excluding no one from his life or from his service.

Romans 15:1 – We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please ourselves.

Galatians 6:2 – Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Hebrews 4:15 – For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

  • Ministry.  Every believer should minister to others.

Luke 10:36-37 – Then Jesus asked, ‘Which one of these three people was a real neighbor to the man who was beaten up by robbers?’  The teacher answered, ‘The one who showed pity.’  Jesus said, ‘God and do the same!’

John 13:14 – If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

Galatians 6:10 – As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all amen, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

The Unexpected

Matthew 2:1-23

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Unexpected Circumstances and Events

Unexpected place of birth – Bethlehem.   Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth.  God used a Roman government to get them to the right place for Jesus’ birth.   Romans 8:28.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Unexpected question – “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?”  They thought they could find the answer in the king’s house.  (Can the world find Jesus in His house – the Christian – today?)

John 1:10-11 – He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

Unexpected disturbance – Herod and religious leaders all disturbed. 

He had not come as they expected.

His coming threaten their authority.

Unexpected commission – “search diligently for the young child.”  The wise men (the world) were forced to seek for Jesus themselves because his own people (the church) did not know where he was. 

Matthew 13:15 – For the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.

Unexpected sign – the star once again appeared to them.   They had searched diligently, had come to the king’s house.  They had done all they could do.  Yet, God once again sent the star. 

Deuteronomy 4:29 – But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Jeremiah 29:13 – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

 Unexpected King – in a simple house with simple parents.  Although this was not what they had expected, they bowed down and worshipped him.         God’s   ways are not our ways. 

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Unexpected Danger

Herod plotted to find Jesus.  God warned the Wise Men in a dream.  God will protect those who seek him and obey him. 

2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.

Psalm 34:7 – The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you,
yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

2 Timothy 4:18 – And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen

Herod attempted to kill Jesus.  Again, God warned Joseph to flee in a dream.  God continued to lead Joseph in his efforts to be a protecting earthly father to Jesus. 

Psalm 31:23 – Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!  For the Lord preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person…

Psalm 37:5 – Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Herod’s son reigned after his father.  Again, God gave Joseph guidance.

Psalm 48:14 – For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.

Palms 73:24 – You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Isaiah 30:21 –  Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.

The Earthly Family of Jesus

Matthew 1:1-23

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Jesus came by way of the virgin and the power of the Holy Spirit.  He was the Son of God incarnate. 

The earthly part of Jesus’ ancestry is traced back from Joseph to Abraham.  Not all of these were godly men or women. 

There was a prostitute, those guilty of adultery and a king who desired another man’s wife.  His sin of adultery led to his causing her husband to be killed.  These are not the most likely candidates to be included in the line of the holy Messiah.

To list all the crimes of many of these kings and their spouses would be a major undertaking.  There were godly kings among the list also but sadly the ungodly were more than those who followed God’s Law.

The fact that his earthly family line was not perfect shows us that regardless of our own family’s history, God can and will use us.  He truly became one of us – born into a imperfect family.  Interestingly, four women are named in this genealogy.  The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible suggests that the common thread between all of these women is that they have associations with Gentiles.  Rahab was a prostitute in Canaan, Bathsheba was married to a Hittite, Ruth resided in Moab, and Tamar had a name of Hebrew origin. This clearly shows that Jesus came for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  The fact that three of these four women also were guilty of sexual sins again points to the fact that God can and will use anyone that is willing to be forgiven and cleansed. 

Christ came to save those of his own earthly family.  He came to save our own family.  He came to be Immanuel “God with us.”

Comparison of the Four Gospels

   Matthew  Mark  Luke  John    
Portrait of Christ  Prophesied KingObedient ServantPerfect ManSon of God
Angelic ReminderRev. 4, Ezek. 1First Creature: LionlikeSecond Creature: OxlikeThird Creature: ManlikeFourth Creature: Eaglelike      
Genea-logical Record  Yes – a King must have one – It traces the kingly line of David through Solomon and leads to Joseph, the legal father of JesusNo – a servant needs noneYes – A man should have one – It traces the physical line of David through Nathan and leads to Mary, the physical mother of JesusNo – God has no beginning                
Written for  JewsRomansGreeksAll People
Key Word(s)  “fulfilled”“straightway”“Son of Man”“believe”
Key Verse  21:510:4519:1020:31
Emphasis by the Writer  SermonsMiraclesParablesTeachings
Style of the Writer  TeacherPreacherHistorianTheologian
Arrange-ment of Material  TopicalChronologicalChronologicalTopical
Tone  PropheticPracticalHistoricalSpiritual
Percent Spoken by Christ  60%42%50%50%        

Quota-tions  from Old Testa-ment  
53362520
Allusions to Old Testament  762742105
Main Action is Centered inGalileeGalileeGalileeJerusalem in Judea

He’s Dead – Or Is He?

The Gospel of Matthew as well as other Gospel writers presents the reality of Jesus’ death as an absolute certainty.

Those standing around the cross watched as Jesus “breathed his last.” – John 19:30 tells us He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

They heard him cry with a loud voice. – Mark 15:37 tells us Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed His last.

Roman authorities, acting on instructions from Pilate, broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus to hasten their death; but coming to Jesus, they discovered He had already died – John 19:33 says “But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.

Having received confirmation of death from the Roman centurion, Pilate released the body of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus for burial.

  • The callous Roman soldiers said “He is dead.”
  • The curious crowds, unconscious of the eternal significance, said “He is dead.’
  • Pilate got the word, “Jesus is dead.”
  • Mary, feeling the pain like a dagger in her heart, said, “My son is dead.”
  • His disciples, numb and stunned with the events of the last few hours said, “The Master is dead”

Everybody had written Jesus off – gone forever.

Dead.

Dead.

Dead.

Get on with the same routine.  He’s dead.  No one expected to see Him or hear His voice again.

It’s Friday….but Sunday’s coming.

What separates Christianity from all other religions is an empty tomb and the words of Christ who says “I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore.”