The message of Jesus has not changed in over two thousand years. He still tells those with ears to hear to repent and believe in the Gospel
By Donald Whitchard
Matthew 4:18-22,Mark 1:16-20,Luke 5:1-11
Summary: Jesus rarely calls the famous, the powerful, the influential, or the religious groups to preach the Gospel. He works best with those who feel that they have nothing to offer Him, but will follow and obey Him anyway.
(ICB) The message of Jesus has not changed in over two thousand years. He still tells those with ears to hear to repent and believe in the Gospel. In His early ministry, He preached in His hometown synagogue and nearly got Himself killed as a result (Luke 4:16-30). Wherever Jesus went, He either brought about a revival or a riot. In His humanity, He knew He would not be able to go everywhere to preach. He would need the help of people who could lift some of the burden of proclamation off of Him. To whom would He turn?
The priests? They were going through the daily routine of sacrifices and rituals before the LORD in the Temple as had their ancestors before them going back to the days of Aaron. Theirs was a daily, continuing, never ending slaughter of bulls, lambs, oxen, doves, and goats upon the altars in order to atone for the sins of the people. A constant river of blood flowed from the altars, and the work had turned into routine and mere motions without the awe, reverence, and devotion to God that had once accompanied it. Adoration for God had become apostate religious duty. The prophet Amos had condemned such actions on the part of Israel (Amos 5:21-24).
The High Priest at that time, Caiaphas, had been operating the affairs of the Temple as a type of “racket”, with worshippers exchanging money and sacrificial animals they had brought with them for “approved” coinage and animals that were conveniently sold to the people for a “reasonable exchange fee” that enriched the coffers of the Temple officials. They would incur the wrath of the Lord Jesus during the last week of His ministry (Matt.21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-22), exposing their thievery, deceit, and blasphemy. This group would not be of any use to Him at any time.
What about the Pharisees? These men were considered devout, reverent, Scripturally knowledgeable, orthodox, and kept to a high standard of what they considered to be holiness before God. They had been given the charge of teaching the people the Word and Law of God and their teachings were to be obeyed as part of the social and religious structure of Judea. They started out well, but went downhill over the years to where they were more concerned with keeping the rituals and interpretations of the Law as prescribed by the teachings of other rabbis and scribes over the years to where they were seen as just as sacred, if not more so, than the Scriptures. Their fanatical attention to every little detail of the Law, especially where it involved the keeping of the Sabbath, had made obedience to God a source of worry, fear, and strain on the lives of the people over the years. Their teaching had now become adherence to traditions and regulations and had turned them into nitpicky fanatics whose lives did not measure up to their teachings. Jesus continually accused them of rank hypocrisy, disobedience to God, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and murder (Matthew 23). He called them serpents and vipers heading to hell for their wickedness wrapped in religious garb. He would get nothing from this group but hassle and a hard time.
Would He get any notice or assistance from the household of Herod Antipas? Absolutely not. Antipas’ father, the madman Herod the Great (40 B.C.- 4 B.C.) had gone on a murderous rampage toward the end of his rule in an evil attempt to eliminate Jesus while He was a toddler, and ended up killing all baby boys under two years old as they were all seen as threats to his throne and royal privilege granted to him by an act of Rome. Nothing good came from the lineage of Herod. Antipas stole his brother’s wife away from him, married her, and adopted her daughter. His wife, Herodias, was his niece, and he lusted after the daughter when she performed a sensuous dance for him while he was drunk. His foolish decree cost John the Baptist his life by beheading. Antipas ridiculed Jesus on the day of His trial and crucifixion, and ended his days as an exile in Gaul on the orders of the Emperor Caligula in 39 A.D. Nothing good would come from this family or situation.
Where does our Lord go to find the servants of His choice? He does not often go to the big fancy churches in America or the rest of the world where the congregation and pastor are merely “going through the motions”, oblivious to the joy, peace, wonder, and majesty of worshipping, adoring, and glorifying the great God and King. Instead, they tend to be content with pleasing the crowds, the politicians, the ideologues, the civil agitators, the deviants, and others in order to look “acceptable”, “tolerant”, “non-judgmental”, “progressive”, “open”, “relevant”, and all the while leading these souls to contentment and damnation after they take their last breath. He does not bother to go to “churches” where emotion, experience, odd behaviors and confusing gibberish are the center of attention, nor will He use so-called “preachers” with “revelations” and “words from God” who never once open a Bible, nor will he use anyone in the congregation who have everything but a Bible in their possession for that matter.
Jesus prefers to go to the highways and hedges, the streets and routes, and seek out those who have been crippled by sin and know it (Luke 14:16-24). He seeks the ordinary, plain, unimpressive, and oblivious man, woman, boy, or girl who does not seem to really stand out or shine like their peers. He tends to look for the people who are not afraid to work hard and call things for what they are, unimpressed with the antics and words of the rich and powerful. His first four disciples were fishermen; rough, coarse, smelly, sweaty, swearing men who did not take guff off of anyone, who probably had been in a fight or two, who were brawny veterans of rough weather, torn nets, bad days, poor catches, and a few choice words for the Roman authorities and the Herodian rulers who taxed them constantly. As He walks on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He finds these men and tells them to follow Him. Their days of catching fish had come to an end. Now they were going to be commissioned to catch men in the nets of the kingdom of God from that day on.
He first called Simon Peter, also referred to as the “Big Fisherman” by some Bible teachers and contemporary writers. He was big-mouthed, boisterous, rough around the edges, and a natural leader of people. Jesus had been with him earlier (Luke 5:1-11), and now the Lord had called him out of the business he had known all of his life to walk in faith as a follower of the Carpenter from Nazareth. Peter tends to be the kind of person who thinks he knows what he is talking about, but it ends up being so much wind.
Andrew is not as prominent and tends to be content in the shadow of his older brother Peter, yet he is just as rough a character. He is the type of person who will not put up with nonsense form anyone. If you are his friend, he will be with you until the bitter end. Andrew is described in the Gospels as constantly introducing people to Jesus and be, for all practical purposes, an evangelist that we as believers in Jesus would do well to imitate. The other two fishermen whom Jesus calls are the sons of Zebedee, John and James, each of whom has a reputation for being “hotheads”, ready to get into an argument or fight over the things of God, and who asked Jesus to call down fire upon those people or places who did not see things their way. They are the examples of the phrase, “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” With the assumption of giving them his blessing, Zebedee sees his boys leave the boats and the business to follow Jesus.
These men will become the “inner circle” of what will be a group of twelve ordinary men, growing from a motley bunch of hard headed, prideful, confused, at times dense glory seekers to Spirit-empowered preachers of the Word of God and of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as the years progressed. All but one would be loyal to the mission and work of Jesus and remain devoted to Him even upon pain of death. We need to see that Jesus does not look for “super saints” to do His work and follow Him. He uses people who tend to fall into the category of plain, ordinary, everyday living who don’t possess a lot of ego or self-reliance. He calls the helpless, ragged, and hurt. He calls people who have “blown it” in the eyes of the world. He calls you where you are.
Think about it. The Almighty, Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of All Things loves you and wants you to be with Him. He has a purpose for you. You are no accident or fluke. He has given you meaning and worth and the means of having real peace, forgiveness for sin, and rest for your weary soul and wounded heart. Repent of your sins and come to Jesus for salvation and eternal life, where you will one day be free from sin, sickness, heartache, and all that the world has thrown at you. Embrace Him today and be part of His eternal family. Jesus is calling now for you to come home. What are you waiting for?
Donald was born and reared in the authentic Cajun country of south Louisiana. He is a 1978 graduate of LaGrange High School in Lake Charles. He is also a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1994) and Andersonville Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, 2000). He is an ACPE Certified Chaplain with training in Trauma/ER, NICU, and Psychiatric Pastoral Care from the McFarland Institute in New Orleans (2003). He has over thirty years of ministry service, which concluded when he was called to serve as pastor of Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Muskogee, Oklahoma from 2017-2018. Due to health concerns, he retired from public ministry in 2020 and now devotes his time to internet evangelism through the writing of Bible studies, sermons, and articles on current issues for varied Christian webpages and ministries. He is a regular contributor to sites such as Rapture Ready and Sermon Central as well as Inspirational Christian Blogs. He and his wife Cathy are both active members of Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Muskogee. Don will often serve as a panel member of the Gospel Rescue Mission Pastor’s Round Table Broadcast, shown monthly on the mission’s Facebook page as his health allows. He has a personal evangelistic blog as well and can be contacted at his Email address.