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Matthew 4:12-23

Sermon Notes

Follow Me

The beloved song ‘In the Garden’ paints an image of a beautiful day spent with Jesus wandering the garden, enjoying nature, and listening to God. We cherish the idea of such intimate moments that nurture our souls. In these images, we feel blessed and loved by the One who walks with us.

As he (Jesus) walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’

When we imagine a walk by the lakeside, we may think of our feet warmed by sand as we listen to the peaceful sounds of water and birds. For some, a walk along a beach can have that same peaceful, nurturing, feeling as is invoked by the images of the song ‘In the Garden’. While it is fair to imagine that Jesus and the disciples did have these kinds of intimate, meaningful moments, today’s story points beyond that experience and reminds us that following Jesus is a gift AND a task.

‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ What does it mean to fish for people? The truth is: we know the names Andrew, Simon, James, and John, because they were disciples of Jesus. They had roles to play in the stories around his life, death, and resurrection. They had roles to play in the stories that would shape and form the early Christian Church. Simon, whose name was changed to Peter, became the rock on which the church was built! These individuals followed Jesus, listened to Jesus, learned from Jesus, and then sought to embody that journey in their own lives through the ways they shared their God-given gifts.

‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Andrew, Simon, James, John, and all the other individuals associated with Jesus, including women like Mary Magdalene, created a context in which other people could learn about, and be inspired by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The ways that they embodied what they had learned, the ways they lived out the relationships they had developed with Jesus, with God, and with each other, helped to reveal God’s ongoing presence and invitation to the world. By embracing the gifts they had received in walking with Jesus and sharing these, living these in their lives, they were able to fish for people!

‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ The invitation falls to us today in gardens, by lakesides, and wherever else God may meet us. God is happy to have those special intimate moments that help to nourish us. These remain gifts to us. God is also perpetually challenging us to take what we have experienced, what we know through our relationship with God and embody that in ways that proclaim the Good News to the world.

‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Following Jesus is both a gift and a task. Our Baptismal Covenant and the Marks of Mission help to focus our energy in ways that can be meaningful. Through these resources we can explore what it means to respect the dignity of every human being, respond to human need with loving service, and safeguard the integrity of God’s Creation. These tools help us make decisions about how we embody the story of our relationship to God, each other and our world.

‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ What does it look like for us to ‘fish for people’? How are we, individually and collectively proclaiming the Good News of God’s loving presence in our world today? What examples come to mind for you in this moment? Let’s talk…(record examples on sticky notes and place on the wall under sign ‘Proclaim the Good News’. Sticky notes will be available for people to add others when they feel inspired.)

‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Following Jesus is a gift and a task. May we continually seek ways to embody the wonder and grace of God in our lives. This we pray as we sing: (Voices United) 563 Jesus, You Have Come to the Lakeshore.