Thursday, January 19, 2017

Matthew 4:12-23 Turning Fishes into Fishers

KEY TEXT: Matthew 4:19, 23 And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men"... And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

KEY THOT: Discipleship training is the buzz-word in every church. We have Intentional Disciple-Making Church Conferences every year. We have IDC (Intentional Disciple-making Church) consultation offered by mission agencies to help church become IDCs. We have countless books on discipleship. They all have one objective: to make better disciples. But sadly, most of these conferences and courses are very much inwardly-focused on edification rather than outwardly-focused on evangelism. It's about making me a better Christian--more disciplined and perhaps more like Christ. The focus is on being (Greek learning) rather than doing (Hebrew learning). Yet, Jesus' disciple-training program for his first twelve disciples was very much outwardly-focused on rescuing the lost out of the domain of darkness to bring them into the kingdom of light. 

In today's key text, Jesus defines his discipleship-training goal as being "fishers of men." Jesus' aim in discipleship training is to teach and equip his disciples to be able to proclaim the kingdom of God and to engage the kingdom of darkness in spiritual warfare to seek and save the lost: "And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people" (v.23). 

So, a Jesus-style discipleship program will turn fishes in the church aquarium into fishers of men who are able to teach, preach and heal those who are still in bondage to darkness. And, in the process, we become better disciples--better Christians. We become better disciples by focusing outwards, not inwards.

Jesus' discipleship vision consists of three elements:
(1) "Follow me": In the days of his flesh, this means literally going places with Jesus and sitting at his feet to learn as OJT apprentices. It's not just classroom teaching but include real-life practicum: "And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons" (Mark 3:14-15). Jesus called his disciples to himself (so they became his fishes) with the goal of turning his fishes into fishers of men. If our discipleship training doesn't not end up engaging our members in reaching the lost with teaching, healing and casting out demons, we miss the point of discipleship training.
(2) "I will make you": When we align ourselves to Jesus' goal of discipleship, we will have the privilege and joy of experiencing his personal and first-hand mentoring. He will not only grant us new revelations about the Kingdom but He will also pour out his gifts and graces upon us so that we can become more effective in engaging the enemy's kingdom to rescue the lost held captives by sin and Satan.
(3) "fishers of men": The goal of his discipleship training is that the church becomes a fishing village, not an aquarium. Fishes will become fishers if the discipleship program follows Jesus' method.

Father, help us turn fishes into fishers of men. Amen.

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