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A Very Scary Bible Verse!!! Matthew 4:19

November 10, 2014

If you were asked to name some of the scariest verses in the Bible, what would they be? Perhaps Revelation 19:15, “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty?” Or maybe Luke 12:5, “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” would be one of your scariest verses?! Maybe one of the scariest verses is Revelation 20:15, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” These verses are all very sobering in light of the final judgment and the wrath of God against sinners. They shake us out of our slumber to think about eternal destinies: ours and the world of people around us. But it seems we miss too many other verses that should rattle us to our core. There are verses that we see over and over and think nothing about the far reaching implications of them but only of the seeming immediate ‘meaning’ of them. Let’s look at one of them.

Matthew 4:19, “And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Or as the New Living Translation says, “Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Well this verse seems innocent enough on its surface reading. Jesus as He finds His initial disciples calls them to Himself and promises that He will make them a new kind of fishermen. When Peter and James were called by Jesus they were regular fishermen in the Sea of Galilee earning their day to day living through a routine job. Jesus plays upon their vocation and says “Yes, you are men who gather fish for a living, but leave this vocation and I will make you men who ‘fish’ for men’s souls.”

We see the disciples after Christ’s ascension do this very thing. Throughout the book of Acts and through the rest of the letters of the New Testament, we see these very disciples doing everything they can to reach the world for Jesus Christ! Ten of the eleven, after Judas committed suicide, were martyred for preaching Christ to the nations and seeking to ‘fish’ for men’s souls.

In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus tells His disciples again, “Go, make disciples…” Again, Jesus commands them to ‘go fish for men.’ The word ‘disciple’ simply means ‘follower’. This is an interesting parallel with Matthew 4:19 where Jesus had issued the command to “Follow me…” The historic church has long recognized this command as universal for the church at large throughout time. We too are called to make disciples of the nations. And this is where Matthew 4:19 gets very, very scary.

Jesus has defined what a disciple and follower of Him is: it is one who fishes for other men. Notice the root and fruit issue in the verse. The root or cause is “Follow me.” What is the fruit or result? Note the words: “I WILL (emphasis added) make you fishers of men.” Now in light of modern discussions among professed believers, many say they just don’t have the gift to witness to others. But this flies directly in the face of what Christ says. He says His disciples WILL BE(!) fishers of men. We say, “I follow Jesus but I don’t fish for men.” Who should have the final say of what a disciple is? Professed Christians or Jesus? The answer is obvious.

Jesus says He makes anyone who follows Him a fisher of men. Do you fish? Do you evangelize lost people? Do you look for them, search for them, invest in them with not only your lives but the very gospel of the Lord Jesus? How can any professing Christian claim to have assurance of salvation who does not share the gospel with lost men? It is irreconcilable with what Jesus says!

Matthew 4:19 is a sign of a true believer: they fish for men’s souls. The logic is simple and straightforward. Those who fish for men are those who follow Him. The opposite is also true: those who do not fish for men’s souls do NOT follow Him. And to follow Jesus is what salvation is, it’s what a disciple is defined as by Jesus Himself! So let’s measure our lives in light of what God says and not minimize the full impact of this verse. Based on your life in regards to fishing for men, are you saved or not? Are you a follower or not? Jesus is true: those who follow Him, He MAKES them fishers of men. Has Jesus changed you? How do we know we are His disciples: “You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Mat 7:16) A truly saved person is one shows it by fishing for me. Jesus is not saying we are saved by evangelizing. But He is saying if the fruit of evangelism is not in your life, then you can be certain that the root of your life has not been changed by the gospel.

To know Jesus is to be changed by Him to obey Him. The fault is not in Jesus’ promise to “MAKE US” fishers of men, but in our self-deception thinking we are believers when we do not do what He says. Luke 6:46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” The one who hears Jesus but doesn’t obey Him is like the foolish man who builds his house on the sand and when the storms come, it falls. And great is its fall. (see Luke 6:47-49) The fall is described as great because people will have deceived themselves thinking they are believers when at the last day one of the other scary verses will be applied to them: 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Mat 7:23 NAU)

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