Yesterday we spent our time together looking at Matthew 4:18-22, where Jesus called his first disciples to follow him. Interestingly enough, this passage is sandwiched between two passages referencing the kingdom. In Matthew 4:17, Jesus preached “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and as he began to preach in Galilee, he proclaimed “the gospel of the kingdom” (Mt 4:23, ESV). In Matthew’s Gospel, the kingdom is a major theme, and one we must understand to most accurately interpret the rest of the text. Specifically, the kingdom of heaven is referenced 32 times, the kingdom of God 5 times, and a handful of other times the same concept is referenced simply as “the kingdom” in Matthew.
The Kingdom of Heaven that was being established was not only a reference to the work Jesus was accomplishing on earth, but to the work that is continuing and will be finalized when Jesus comes again. Very simply, Jesus was on earth to expand God’s kingdom by redeeming lost people to himself. Through the victorious battle on the cross that defeated death, Jesus initiated the expansion of God’s kingdom to the ends of the earth. In other words, you and I, unfit for the kingdom of the Holy God of creation, are deemed righteous through the victory of Jesus, and are now a part of God’s territory based upon his choosing us for salvation and our confession of Christ as Lord.
So now, back to our key passage of study, Matthew 4:18-22. It was necessary for Jesus to have ambassadors for his kingdom, so he chose disciples for the task of kingdom expansion after his ascension to heaven. As Jesus walked by the sea, he chose two sets of brothers to be his disciples: Simon-Peter and Andrew, and James and John. These young guys were fisherman that were most likely fisherman by trade, not necessarily by hobby. They were concerned with large catches to provide food for their family and to sell at the market, using nets to catch large quantities of fish at a time. Jesus immediately redefined their purpose though to meet a far greater need, telling the fishermen, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Why was it necessary that the disciple become fishers of men now? Because Jesus was concerned with kingdom work. He was here on earth to expand his father’s territory..
When we think about discipleship today, yes, discipleship is about becoming like Jesus. But who was Jesus and what we he about? Jesus had an incredible servants heart, and was 100% committed to the mission of his Father. In the Lord’s prayer, as he taught the disciples how to pray, he poured out his heart saying “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10). So what should the life of a disciple look like? Disciples should also live sacrificially and commit their work to seeing the kingdom come.
This week, take time to consider how much you really look like Christ as you answer this question:
Am I committing my life to expanding God's kingdom?
Disciples of Jesus make more disciples of Jesus.