Saturday, June 3rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Wells of Living Water Commentary Wells of Living Water
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Matthew 4". "Living Water". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ lwc/ matthew-4.html.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Matthew 4". "Living Water". https://studylight.org/
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The Temptation (No. 2)
1. "THEN" the word holds our attention. "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." The word "then" carries with it a most suggestive meaning.
(1) It carries us back to the baptismal scene. It shows the Saviour coming to John and requesting baptism. It reveals the voice of God, immediately after the baptism, as He proclaims, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
The baptism of the Lord Jesus followed immediately upon the twenty-eight years of silence, when He was "the Carpenter." His baptism was His open dedication to His office as Saviour and Redeemer. It was His public annunciation by the Father as "My beloved Son," and by John as "The Lamb of God."
(2) "THEN" was Jesus led * * to be tempted of the devil must mean that Satan may not have known the fuller meaning of the One who wrought in the carpenter shop at Nazareth. Now, however, with Christ's baptism, and with the Voice from Heaven that announced Christ as the Son of God; and with the voice from John that announced Hun "Lamb of God," the devil is made fully aware of the identity of Christ.
(3) "Then was Jesus * * tempted" also suggests that it was after His dedication to office, and after His acclamation as Son, that Satan tempted Him. We stop to suggest that this is always the case.
When would Satan desire to tempt us more than following the moment of our public consecration? For instance, if the believer is leading a careless or even an ineffectual life, with no definite testimony, Satan would have little need to bestir himself against such an one. "Why not let good enough alone?" is what he would say.
It is always when any of us come to the Lord, and assert our intention of following fully in the Master's steps, that the enemy begins to fear us; and that he, consequently, gets busy, if by any means he may hinder us. Let those of us, therefore, who are placing our lives on the altar of sacrifice and service, not be surprised if we are tempted by the devil.
2. "LED," here, is another word that grips our attention. "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." From this it appears that Satan, although, no doubt, he was ready to tempt Christ, was in no immediate hurry to carry out his attack. He, perhaps, would have preferred to have had more time to plan his attack.
The Spirit of God, however, would brook no delay. He knew that Satan would tempt the Lord Jesus, and He led Jesus at once to the fray. The Spirit seemed to say, once and for all, we will settle the matter as to Christ's claims, and as to God's assertions.
Thus, led by the Spirit, Christ pressed His way into the wilderness, ready for the onslaught. He went with no uncertain step, He went with no holding back; He was ready to meet Satan.
Let no one think that the meeting was mere child's play. Christ was not afraid; yet He knew the power of the devil: knew his history from all time, knew his cunning, knew his power, knew how he had met the first Adam and had conquered him.
3. "The wilderness," here, is a third word that is most suggestive. Christ did not force the "temptation" on to a ground that would be conducive to His side of the conflict. He did not compel the devil to meet Him where He was surrounded by innumerable hosts. Neither did He demand the testing to be witnessed by the Father's revealed presence, in the faraway Glory. It was in the wilderness, the place of the devil's own advantage.
4. "Of the Spirit" This word must not be omitted. Christ was "led up of the Spirit * * to be tempted." The devil did not corner Christ: Christ cornered the devil. The tempting came in the plan of God, not in order to see if Christ would sin, but to prove forever that Christ would not sin.
God who said, "This is My beloved Son," would prove the Deity of His Son once and for all.
I. SATAN'S FIRST INSINUATION (Matthew 4:2-3 )
1. Satan dared to question Christ's Sonship. He said, "If Thou be the Son of God." When the devil entered the Garden of Eden it was to discount the integrity of God. He asked, "Hath God said?" Then he added, "God doth know."
Until this hour the enemy is quick to question all that God is, and all that God does. He is still throwing question marks over every statement of Holy Writ. The sad part is that the names of the men are legion who are joining hands with the devil in his denials. There is scarcely a great fundamental of the faith that is not placed in the crucible of doubt.
The Virgin Birth is questioned; the saving power of the Blood of Christ is questioned, the literal, bodily resurrection of Christ is doubted; the Coming of the Lord is scoffed at. What is left? Nothing vital to saving faith, or to the Blessed Hope.
2. Satan took advantage of the fact that Christ had been fasting for forty days and nights, and that He was now hungering. He said what purported to be a test of Christ's Sonship, by demanding a Divine creation of bread from the rocks. He hid the fact that what he was really doing was not to secure a miraculous proof of Christ's Sonship, but that he was trying to instill a doubt into Christ's own mind that He was the Son of God, or at least a doubt that, being the Son of God, the Father truly cared for Him.
The devil was saying, in effect, "If Thou art the Son of God, why does God leave You hungry and alone? If Thou art the Son of God, where are the angels that always surrounded the throne?" Deeper still lay the fangs of the tempter: "If Thou art the Son of God, forsaken and alone, break the bands of Thy bondage to the Father, and make a start for Thyself." Satan seemed to say, "God, at least, has forgotten You; exert Your power."
This is ever Satan's tactics with us. He wants to force us into doing something anything to break connections. He wants to force us into self-dependency, and away from Divine loyalty. Under the guise of doing the supernatural, by faith, he wants us to attempt things in our own innate, self-centered authority.
II. CHRIST'S FIRST RESPONSE (Matthew 4:4 )
1. Christ appealed to the Word of God. He did not start an argument on God's love to, or care for, Himself. He did not seek to vindicate the Father's love, nor His own Sonship. He merely drew the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, from its sheath, and made his stroke. He said, "It is written."
Would that all of us had ready a "thus saith the Lord" for every satanic thrust. God hath certainly panoplied us with this Sword of the Spirit. Let us use it.
2. Christ appealed to the Word of God as final. He said "It is written," as much as to say, "When God hath spoken, let it stand." His Word knows no impeachment and permits no appeal. He has said and that settles it. His Word is the end, not the beginning, of all controversy. It is not only final, but it carries all authority. Nothing can be done beyond it, nothing attempted. God speaks, we obey. God speaks, let every man be still nothing by the way of answering back, nothing by the way of appeal to a higher court.
3. Christ appealed to an appropriate Word. He said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
He was asked to make bread out of stones to satiate His hunger. He replied that there is another hunger more necessary to satisfy. He placed the spiritual as over, and more important than, the physical. It were better to die physically, than to be spiritually impoverished.
4. Christ appealed to an oft-disputed word. Our Lord, when He met the devil in the wilderness, used a Scripture from that oft-decried Book, as a dart to undo the devil. The verse is found in Deuteronomy 8:3 . Christ even quoted a verse that says, "Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God": in this He was evidently asserting that Deuteronomy itself came from the mouth of God.
5. Christ, moreover, appealed to the deeper meaning of the verse He quoted from Deuteronomy. The devil said, in effect, "Thou art hungry: make these stones bread with which to satisfy Your hunger." Christ said, in effect, "I am the Bread that came down from Heaven; I am the Manna; My flesh is Bread indeed: shall I then make bread, when I am the Bread?" Christ also averred, "Thou askest 'If Thou be the Son of God' make bread; and I am the Son of God, because I am the Bread.
III. SATAN'S SECOND INSINUATION (Matthew 4:5-6 )
1. Satan dared the second time to cast doubt as to Christ's Sonship. This time he said, "If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down." This time the devil seemed to make sport of Christ's first unmovableness, and His implication that He was the Son of God, because He was the Bread of life; and Satan said, all right, "If Thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down." He appealed to His spiritual pride; to His seeming boastfulness in His first reply.
The devil had taken Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple in the holy city. He suggested that leaping off, and being borne down majestically from the high peak would afford abundant proof of His Deity. The devil also used Christ's own method, and quoted Scripture, saying, "For it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone."
Now, suggested the devil, You can do two things at once. Thou canst cast Thyself down to prove Thou art the Son of God; and Thou canst cast thyself down according to the Word of God, and its definite promise which fits this very case.
2. Satan failed to rightly quote the Word of God. He bravely enough said, "It is written": however, observe what he did:
(1) Satan left out the words: "To keep Thee in all Thy ways." There was no charge to the angels to keep Christ out of the will of the Father. His ways were the Father's way; for they were both one. Christ said, "I do always those things that please Him." He spoke the words of the Father, did the works of the Father, and lived in the will of the Father.
(2) Satan also left out the words which immediately followed his quotation, "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder." These words were, indeed, applicable to the very hour of the temptation and were abundantly fulfilled in Christ's utter overwhelming of the evil one.
IV. CHRIST'S REPLY TO THE SECOND TEMPTATION (Matthew 4:7 )
Christ might have reminded the devil that he had misquoted and misapplied the Scripture he quoted. This, however, He did not do. Why start an argument? Why give an answer that would lead to needless strife? Christ did what He, afterward, often did. He answered a query with a query, and utterly ignored the folly of the adversary.
Christ simply said: "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord Thy God." How straight-from-the-shoulder were His words! How all-overwhelming.
Christ's reply showed two things:
(1) In the life of perfect trust there is no place to do the rash and impudent thing in order to establish one's faith. Here is a warning that many need. It pampers the flesh to say, God watches over me, and He will stand by me; and then to use that too evident fact to do the foolish and even overdaring and unnecessary thing, the great risk, wholly outside of God's will, for no other purpose than to force God to vindicate your faith in spite of your folly.
This Christ would not do. Not for one moment would He take a dare from the devil as an excuse to manifest His Deity by a mad and foolish display of bravado, and thereby tempt God, the Father.
(2) In the life of perfect trust one must stand firm in his confidence. This the Lord did. To me, He seemed, at one fell stroke, to show the sin of tempting God the Father, which the devil had dared Him to do. At the same time He once more asserted that He, Himself, was God, and that the devil had no right to tempt Him.
That is what Satan was seeking to do. He was tempting Christ to tempt God; while he was tempting God, in tempting Christ. He was seeking to bring schism in the Godhead, and set God against God, and the Lord Jesus knew it.
(3) There is one other thing we must not omit. It is this: Christ was tempted by Satan to cast Himself down, Satan always tempts with that objective. When God tempted Abraham, the objective of the test was not set for Abraham's undoing, but for his upbuilding. God cannot tempt anyone to sin, to drag them down. Satan always does that very thing.
V. SATAN'S THIRD AND SUPREME TEST (Matthew 4:8-9 )
1. The great panorama of glories. We read: "Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them."
(2) There was much of glory to show. Some people imagine that in the days of Christ there was nought of power or of glory in the world-kingdoms. Such an idea is sheer folly. Only at this time, yesterday, we were carried up into an high mountain in an Indian chair by six natives to see a temple that antedated the times of Christ. It was hewn out of solid stone of hardest quality, and yet in size it rivals many of the great cathedrals of today. The entrance had huge elephants in stone carved upon the rocks. The temple lay about 125 feet deep and 60 feet wide. On its walls were carved all kinds of angel images, and great girders, also carved out of solid rock which had no use, only for display. In the rear of the Temple was a dome that still stands in all of its former vastness. Behind the dome is a cement-sealed door, which we were told formerly entered a tunnel that was carved for six miles, much of it through solid rock. The tunnel led to a mosque on another mountain, and to an ancient fort. There were, adjacent to the temple, three stories of houses for the priests, also carved out of solid rock; also a whispering, or echo gallery. It must have taken centuries to carve out that structure. That may have had a part in "all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them." There was much, very, very much more for Satan to display,
(2) There was a boastful proffer, preceded by a boastful claim. The devil said, "All these things will I give thee." Christ did not deny his power to fulfill the promise, for Christ knew that the world lay in the lap of the wicked one. He, more than once, in after years, spoke of Satan, as the "prince of this world."
How proud the devil must have felt as he demonstrated to Christ that he, and not the One he tempted, held the great world forces in his hands.
(3) There was a self-centered and proud condition of the devil's proffer: "All these things will I give thee, if," "if Thou wilt fall down and worship Me." The panoramic picture showed the world worshiping at Satan's feet. So the tempter said: "If You worship me, all is Yours; I only will be above Thee." In all of this, the devil did no less than set himself up above all that is called God, and that is worshiped.
Satan had come out into the open and frankly acknowledged that his purpose was to overthrow the supremacy of God in His own universe. He simply sought, along with his human devotees on earth, and his multitudinous devotees among the fallen angels, to add the One who was coequal with God, and Son of God, to his clientele; and to obtain this, he was willing to suffer a great loss by paying a great price.
VI. CHRIST'S REPLY TO THE THIRD TEMPTATION (Matthew 4:10 )
1. "Get thee hence, Satan." The word was simple but meaningful. It showed that Christ realized that the last effort of the devil was the final one. The devil had cast his last card. He had nothing more to proffer, nothing more to say.
Christ's word was full of holy disdain. Satan had now plainly asked Christ to turn traitor to the Father. This was so contrary to all the pulsings of Christ's spirit that He summarily dismissed the devil, with "Get thee hence, Satan."
2. "It is written." Once again Christ did not try any method of argument. He did not even linger to make a parade of His own fidelity to His Father. He simply, but in all assurance, turned once more to the Word of God.
Would that we might wield the Sword of the Spirit with the same deftness, and with the same assurance.
3. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him ONLY shalt Thou serve." The ramparts that Christ had raised before the devil were absolutely impregnable.
In the panorama of the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, Christ had seen what can be seen, in a small way, in India. He had seen millions of devotees marching their ways to shrines to worship idols. He knew it all. Now Satan wanted to add Him to the string of his worshipers. Christ said, "God, God only."
What do we see? Two great events.
First of all we see the devil leaving Christ, and leaving Him untouched, unscathed a Victor.
Secondly, we see the Father speaking to the Son and saying, "Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession."
The devil will yet deliver the kingdoms of the earth to the antichrist; however, he will have them but a short while, a few years, until Christ descends from Heaven, when with the brightness of His Coming, and with the breath of His lips He will slay him. Then will Christ take the Kingdom and reign from shore to shore as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Thirdly, we see one thing more. We see in Christ's victory in the wilderness, our victory over the devil; and we see in His reign, our privilege of reigning with Him.
To us it is wonderful to see how Christ declared Himself the Bread. And He, as the Bread, will provide us with both the spiritual and the natural bread. He was "an hungered," but we need not so to be.
Do you all know the story told by "Sister Abigail," of a day in George Muller's Orphanage at Ashley Downs, when there was literally no breakfast for the children in the house? "Sister Abigail" was a small child at the time, and her father was a close friend of George Muller's. One day, that man of faith took the child's hand and said: "Come and see what our Father will do," and he led her into the long dining room. The plates and mugs were on the table, but they were empty. There was no food in the larder and no money to supply the need. The children were standing waiting for the morning meal, when Mr. Muller said: "Children, you know you must be in time for school." Then lifting his hand, he said, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." A knock at the door was heard. The baker stood there and said: "Mr. Muller, I couldn't sleep last night; somehow I felt you had no bread for breakfast, and the Lord wanted me to send some. So I got up at 2:00 o'clock and baked fresh bread and have brought it." George Muller thanked the man and gave praise to God for His care, then said, "Children, we not only have bread, but the rare treat of fresh bread." No sooner had he said this, than there came a second knock at the door. This time it was the milkman. He said his milk cart had broken down, right in front of the orphanage, and that he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so that he could empty his wagon and repair it. Selected.
The First Disciples
As introductory we wish to speak on the wonderful privileges which belong to saints, called into comradeship with God.
Where is the man or the woman who quietly considers the great honor of contact, or union, with the noble of earth? Association with royalty, with world leaders, with the ultra rich, is considered by most men a high privilege. What then is our association with Deity, with the Creator of the Heavens and the earth, the King of kings, and Lord of lords!
Let us pen a few of the Scriptures which assert somewhat of our deeper relationships with God.
1. A Scripture in John 14:23 : "My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him."
There it is in plain words: "We will come unto him." "We will make Our abode with him." What? And shall God the Father and God the Son dwell with us poor worms of the dust? Even so, if we love Him and keep His commandments.
Another Scripture tells of His coming in and supping with us, and we with Him.
2. A Scripture in 1 Corinthians 3:16 : "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" What incomparable joy! What a hallowed and holy Guest! Yet such a One comes to dwell within us; He comes to take up His abode with us; He comes to enter into the very recesses of our being.
What this means to saints cannot be explained lightly. It is a privilege and a joy of which the world knows nothing, for the world receiveth Him not, and knoweth Him not. However, we know Him. for He is both with us, and in us.
The Spirit indwelling makes real to us the indwelling of the Father and the Son; for He makes of the things which are Theirs and shows them unto us. He speaks of the things of Christ. He glorifies Him. He makes Him wonderful! Yea, He teaches us of God and His glory, and of Christ and His beauty.
The Spirit comes to dwell in us that He may reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; He comes to bring to our remembrance all things that the Father and the Son hath spoken unto us; He comes as the Spirit of truth to testify of Christ, to guide us into all truth, and to tell us the things to come.
3. A Scripture in 1 Corinthians 1:9 : This Scripture reads thus: "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." The word "fellowship" suggests partnership. It is a fellowship in business relationships. It is partnership in a great task. In other words, God hath not sent us out alone; He has gone out together with us.
We are promised that His presence will go with us. Thus we have One at our side, a Partner in our business, who is clothed with all power, and who possesses all things.
Are we afraid to trade, with such a One hard by? Nay, for we can do all things through Him who strengtheneth us.
What, then, is the admonition of First Corinthians? The Epistle opens with our being called into partnership with Christ; it closes in chapter 15 with a call to us to attend to our business. Here are the closing words: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
4. A verse in Galatians 5:16 : " This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Thus we observe that the believer has within Him, not alone the key to victorious service, but also the key to victorious living.
The call of God, however, is not merely to recognize the Spirit as an Indweller, but to be filled with the Spirit. The Spirit within is glorious, but the Spirit infilling is all glorious. The one promises much, but the other promises more.
We have now considered a few of those sacred privileges which belong to saints who know God and fellowship with Him.
I. A GREAT LIGHT IN A DARK PLACE (Matthew 4:13-16 )
1. Christ leaving Nazareth. Nazareth had been the city of Christ's boyhood and youth. There He had labored as a carpenter, and the son of a carpenter. There He had made yokes for the oxen, and the Father was well pleased with Him in those days of His isolation and toil. He had turned out no shoddy work; He had the rather proved Himself faithful in the menial tasks of life.
2. Christ entering His new and larger ministry. Christ had come from Nazareth to the Jordan to be baptized of John. He had come to put on, as it were, the regimentals of His Divine office. He had come to fulfill all righteousness; and to be acclaimed by the Father as His well beloved Son.
Nazareth could hold Him no longer. His mission was to the whole nation of Israel. He was not to be circumscribed by one locality.
3. Christ a Light amid the shadows. How the words ring out: "The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up."
Yes, Christ was the Light of the world; a Light shining in a dark place; but the darkness comprehended it not. He was the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Thus it was that the Scripture was fulfilled which said: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2 ). Not that alone, but the very land of Zebulun, and the very land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations, was the prophesied land where the light was to spring up (Isaiah 9:1 ).
II. THE PRACTICAL SIDE OF OUR LORD'S LIFE (Matthew 4:17-18 )
1. Jesus began to preach. These words of the heading are, perhaps, commonplace. Suppose Jesus did begin to preach have not thousands of others preached? Yes, that is just it. He lived as others lived; He traveled the general round, did the trivial task, walked in the common way.
He preached, and yet, how He must have preached! He did what thousands of others did, yet He did it differently. None other ever preached as did He. None even spake as He spake. His very words were spirit, and they were life. His words carried a depth and a height that none others carried. He preached with an authority that others knew not; He was different.
2. Jesus walked by the seaside. Thousands of men had walked by the seaside, and still they walk. Here again there was a similarity, yet a difference. That sea meant more to Him than to any other man. He knew its secrets as none other knew them. He could have named its fish, told out its secrets, forecast its future, as none other could have done.
3. Jesus saw two brethren. Yes, we too saw fishermen casting their nets, and others washing them, and putting them on the shore to dry. But we never saw in the fishermen of our time what He saw in them in the year 30. He saw Simon Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea. Was there anything in the way they cast it that made Jesus of Nazareth pause and speak to them, and command them to follow Him? We think not. Did their uncouth clothing, their rugged faces, their rough hands, have an appeal beyond those of other men? We know not.
Not that, but something else stayed the Master as He saw them. He saw what no other man would ever have seen. It was something deeper than clothes and faces and hands. He saw not what they were, but what He could make them. He saw them not now, but yonder in eternity. He saw and read deep into their characters, their future, their eternity.
III. THE FAR-FLUNG VISION OF THE LORD JESUS (Matthew 4:19 )
1. Christ saw Peter and Andrew as fishers of men. He looked as we suggested a moment ago into the distant vista concerning the two men casting in their nets for fish. He valued them in the light of their ability to fish for a nobler variety of fish, even for men.
Thus does Christ dignify and glorify our calling. He did not altogether change the business pursuits of the two fishermen; He merely transferred their gift to a higher realm of service. Instead of catching fish, they were henceforth to catch men. Instead of fishing in the sea of Galilee, they were from henceforth to fish in the greater sea of the peoples.
2. Christ saw more than what He said. He also saw these two humble fishermen sitting on thrones at His side, judging, with other ten, the twelve tribes of Israel.
3. Christ saw still more more than He ever told the two during their earth-life. He saw what was told to John the beloved disciple long after the two had gone their way. He saw something which was revealed upon the last pages of the Bible: "And the wall of the City had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb."
How wonderful are the walls of the City that lies foursquare! How great and high, made of precious stones that will radiate the glory of God as the light of God falls upon them! Yet, how much greater still is the memorialization of the men who followed with Him in the way.
IV. WHAT OTHER TWO JESUS SAW (Matthew 4:21 )
1. He saw other two.
(1) One of the two was called John, whom Jesus called (and was known commonly as) "a son of thunder." Christ saw him, saw his thunder, uncontrolled, rolicking, laughing, leaping, flashing; saw him saved, taught in the school of Christ; saw him leaning on His breast, in trusting, confident affection; saw him aged, worn, and torn in many a hard-fought conflict as he waged the battle for truth. Christ saw him writing in words filled with tenderest solicitude, and saying "My little children." He saw him an exile on the Isle of Patmos, a fellow sufferer for His Name.
(2) The other was called James, Christ saw James, John's brother. He saw one who stands before us as a blessed picture of what men of lesser weight, and lesser gifts, may become- He saw him a servant who would not vacillate nor be carried about with every wind of doctrine, and the cunning craftiness of men whereby they He in wait to deceive. He saw him as one who would stand with Him to the end.
2. He saw other two mending their nets. They were not idlers, lounging, doing nothing. They were mending their nets, preparing to continue their fishing business.
This, all of it, carries with it much truth. Christ calls men diligent in business to serve and follow Him. "Seest thou a man diligent in business? he shall stand before kings." Satan may find something always for idle hands to do; God, however, is looking for men who are mending their nets, busy men, serving their generation.
3. He saw these two, and the other Peter and Andrew, joined in one comradeship. To us this means much. Think of the church of today. It is composed of men and women of every walk of life and of all classes and colors, and yet it is welded together into one body, where Christ is the Head, and all we be brethren.
Paul the scholar, and Peter the fisherman; Philemon the wealthy, and Onesimus, the slave; yet all are one in Christ. There is no brotherhood, no fraternity, no unity, and no brotherly love like unto that in Christ Jesus.
V. THE SECRET OF SOUL-WINNING (Matthew 4:19 )
1. Who would not be fishers of men? Certainly everyone who has been saved would like to save others. There is, hidden away in every regenerate heart, a desire to make disciples. There is that inner urge, particularly in those just saved. Yet, there is oftentimes much shrinking because of a seeming or a real inability to know how to point men to Christ. We wish we could fish for souls, but how can we? We would like to win men, but is it our calling, or, is it possible for us to do?
2. May all be fishers of men? Is the call to fish men given to only the Twelve, or to some other favored few, or may we too enter that task with assurance that we are called? Just a moment's thought will suffice to convince any believer that he, and all other saints, are called to fish for men. To whom did Christ say, "Preach the Gospel to every creature"? To whom came the command, "Go ye into all the world"? Has God said, "Ye shall be witnesses"? Is not the command, "Go work to day in My vineyard" for all? Does "Ye are the light of the world" not include you and me? Yes, all are called to this task.
3. How then may we successfully fish? The language is plain and positive and it needs no interpretation. Christ said, simply, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Are there not many aids to soul-winning? There are. Are there not many rules of wise and successful approach to the unsaved? There are. Are there not possible instructions that would help young Christians in winning souls? There are.
However, all these things are but secondary. The main thing is, "Follow me," and, "I will make."
(1) "Follow Me." What does this mean? It means an obedient heart and life. It means separation unto Christ, "A stranger will they not follow." It means an open ear to Christ's matchless teachings a sitting at His feet.
(2) "I will make." He turns out soul-winners of all those who follow Him in the way.
VI. PROMPT AND UNQUESTIONING OBEDIENCE (Matthew 4:20 ; Matthew 4:22 )
1. The promptness with which obedience should be rendered. Of Peter and Andrew it is written, "And they straightway * * followed Him." Of James and John it is written, "And they immediately * * followed Him,"
There was no bickering as to wages. There was no questioning as to what it might mean. There was no hesitancy, counting the cost. They four simply followed Him.
Obedience delayed makes the heart sick. How often it may be truly said, "While I was tarrying here and there, He was gone." Obedience that lingers, hesitates, defers, loses all its luster, all its glory.
To obey is better than sacrifice, and obedience far outweighs the fat of rams. Yet a halfhearted, grumbling, contentious obedience borders on disobedience. Do it now, is a good motto for all would be followers of Christ.
2. The necessary implications of obedience. Mark the words: of Peter and Andrew it is written, "They straightway left their nets, and followed Him." Of James and John it is written, "They immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him."
Certainly a new life cannot be entered except by the coming out of the old life. Obedience always involves leaving things. Yes, there is much of "getting" in following Christ, but there is also much of "forgetting." We give up, and then we take in. We leave, and then we follow.
Did not Christ say to a would-be follower, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head"? He also said, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the Kingdom of God." Christ added, to another, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God."
Yes, if we would follow Him, we must leave all else behind.
VII. THE BLESSINGS THAT ACCRUE TO FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST (Matthew 4:23-25 )
1. There was the blessing of hearing His words. They followed Jesus, and He "went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues." All this accrued to Peter, and Andrew, and James, and John. Was it not a great benefaction to sit at His feet and hear His words? To these four, it meant passing from the lives of fishermen to the best college on earth.
How delightful are the words of Matthew 5:1-2 : "He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He * * taught them, saying." We too may sit at His feet. We too may hear His words.
2. There was the beholding of the miracles which He wrought. He healed all manner of sickness and diseases, and they were there. They were with Him to behold His power, and to breathe in the glory of His works. They saw Him raise the daughter of Jairus. They saw the water turned to wine; they saw the hungry fed; they saw Lazarus come forth.
They were there when Christ rebuked the waves of Galilee and there was a great calm. They stood by as the man of Gadara was healed, and as Mary Magdalene was delivered from the demons which vexed her.
Did all this mean nothing to those men who left all and followed with Him? Hark, for even now we hear them saying, "Of a truth Thou art the Son of God."
3. There was the ever-increasing fame that came to the Lord. That fame came also to those who followed with Him. They were His disciples. They were associated with Him in all His great renown. They left ignorance, to receive knowledge; they left weakness, to obtain strength; they left oblivion, to obtain honor and glory.
The Lord shared everything with those who followed Him. His greatness was theirs; His honor was theirs. If you add, so were His sorrows and His Cross theirs. Yes, that is true, for He said, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." Perhaps someone wanted us to present this truth, the truth of the present suffering for His sake. We will let those who refuse to go with Him do that. We prefer, just now, to remind you that the suffering and the ignominy are but passing for a moment. We would rather count it all joy to suffer that we may reign. To follow with Jesus may, for the hour, seem hard; but in eternity it will be glorious beyond all we have ever known or heard. Yes, all His renown, all His glory, all His riches, will be ours and ours forevermore.
The call to the Twelve and to us was and is, "Follow thou Me."
"An interesting sight was once seen in Liverpool harbor during a very fierce gale. A pilot boat sailed up the river with the signal, 'Follow me' at her masthead, and following her were eight or nine vessels of all sorts and sizes. As it was too rough to board the ships in the channel, this plan was adopted. Every vessel got safely in. All the helmsman had to do was to keep his eye on the pilot boat, and steer straight in the course she indicated. All the sinner has to do is to heed the 'Come unto Me' (Matthew 11:28 ) and the 'Follow Me' (Luke 9:59 ) of the Saviour."