Matthew tells us that Jesus inaugurated His public ministry by issuing three significant calls to those who would follow Him. These calls transcend time, apply to each of us today, and are found in in Matthew 4:17-23.
1. Believe and Follow Jesus
The first call is to Believe and Follow Jesus. In Matthew 4:17 we read, “From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!’”
Answering the call to salvation is the first step on a person’s journey to follow Jesus. This step is taken when we accept the truth that…
1. God rules. The Bible says God created everything, including you and me, and He’s in charge of everything. (See Genesis 1:1, Revelation 4:11, and Colossians 1:16-17.)
2. Man sinned. We inherently disobey God. The Bible calls this sin, and sin separates us from God. The punishment? Death. (See Romans 3:23 and 6:23.)
3. God sent Jesus. He’s the perfect solution to our sin problem, rescuing us from the punishment we deserve. It’s something we, as sinners, could never earn on our own. Jesus alone saves us. (See John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, and Acts 16:30-31.)
4. We respond in repentance and faith. All you have to do is believe in your heart that Jesus alone saves you through what He did on the cross. Repent from self and sin, then turn to Jesus. Tell God and others that your faith is in Jesus. (See John 14:6 and Romans 10:9-10,13.)
2. Be Changed Jesus
The second call is to be changed by Jesus. Reading in Matthew 4:19, “‘Follow Me,’ He told them, ‘and I will make you’”
Jesus tells is that He will make us into something new, something different. That as we live life with Him, we become more like Him. That we are we are being formed, conformed and transformed into the very image of Jesus.
This lifelong spiritual formation journey is know as sanctification, a process that moves us toward Christlikeness.
3. Live on Mission with Jesus
The third call is to live on mission with Jesus. Once again Matthew 4:19, “‘I will make you fish for people!’”
Following Jesus means that His personality and deeds naturally flow out of us where we live, work, and play. Simply put, we will act like Jesus acted, say what Jesus said, and do what Jesus did.
So you might ask, what did Jesus say and how did Jesus act so that I can follow Him today?
In Matthew 4:23 we read, “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.”
Jesus was concerned about people’s spiritual and physical well-being. He told people about God, how to enter His kingdom, and how to live as kingdom citizens. He ministered to people by loving them, praying for them, and by meeting their physical needs.
Like the first disciples, Jesus is calling us to follow Him, to tell people what we know about Him and to love and serve others by meeting their needs.