30 November 2007

Matthew 4:18-22

"And he said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fish for people'". (v.19)


There isn't any real connection between this passage and the week's theme of 'Christ the King'. It has been chosen because today is the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle (St Andrew's Day).

Or is there?

Each of the Gospels begins differently. In Mark's Gospel Jesus began his ministry by announcing that the arrival of the 'kingdom of God' was near (Mark 1:15). And that is where we are in Matthew 4:12-17! Immediately after, Jesus begins to call disciples - Andrew is the second of the four fishermen to be called that day.

Notice first how stark this narrative is. There are no introductions and no explanations. Jesus sees these four fishermen, invites them to follow him - though I'm not sure if 'invite' is the right word - and they drop everything and do it.

It may have happened like that or it may not, but the striking thing in the way Matthew tells it is the authority that this Jesus has. He speaks, they obey; he calls, they follow. He speaks and acts with an authority they recognise.

So Andrew and the other three become 'disciples': students and followers of this rabbi. They don't know it yet, but there is more involved. They have entered the kingdom of God. They have been enrolled as agents of that kingdom. What that means will take them a lot of following and a lot of learning to work out.

All they are told at this point is that they will 'fish for people'. That's a vivid metaphor, and it doesn't mean that they will trap people and drag them into the kingdom like helpless fish in a net. But it does suggest that people don't just jump into the kingdom boat either; there is fishing to be done.

To Ponder

What other instances of the authority of Jesus come to mind?

Have you experienced his 'authority' in any way?

Where are suitable 'fishing grounds' for you to fish for disciples?

Bible notes author

Revd Stephen Dawes

Stephen Dawes is a Methodist minister who has worked in the Hexham, Stafford and Bodmin circuits, taught Old Testament at Trinity College, Accra, and Queen's College, Birmingham and served as Chair of the Cornwall District. He is currently Director of Studies for the South West Ministry Training Course, a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Theology at the University of Exeter, minister of two little chapels in the St Austell Circuit and Canon Theologian of Truro Cathedral.