Today we are praying for the country of Hong Kong. Please help us lift up this nation to the Lord today. You can follow the two links below to learn more about the nation and its unreached people groups. You can watch the video below to help guide you in your prayers.
Please take time to meditate on the devotion by Robby Richard as well.
Please join us in praying for this nation by joining in prayer with the video below.
The First and Last Commands of Christ
The first ever command of Christ was to repentance (Matthew 4:17). If you missed it, you can click here. It was a command issued by the highest of authorities, the One who was and is the King of kings who held eternal authority over life and death. As discussed in the previous post, the response to this command was to be radical and decisive.
It should be noted that the command of Christ to “repent” is one that was issued to all who would hear him. Every man and woman to whom He preached was faced with a decision which was to stop what they were doing, change their course of direction and submit to His authority. He was King, so to refuse to repent was to accept the consequences of disobedience.
Imperative 2- Follow Jesus. The second command of Christ, which will be discussed in this post, was not issued to a general audience, but to a select few. In Matthew 4:18-22, we read that He personally approached four men and called them to follow Him. These men were known by Jesus and men whom He wished to make His ambassadors for the sake of His gospel.
The names of the first two were Peter and Andrew. Jesus approached them, interrupting their fishing trip, and issued a simple and straightforward command: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Verse 20 says, “Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”
Further down the shoreline, Jesus, now with Peter and Andrew in tow, approached two other brothers named James and John. James and John were assisting their father, Zebedee, with the mending of the nets. He “called them” (V. 21). Verse 22 states that these two, “Immediately left the boat and their father and followed Him.”
What is the meaning of the four’s immediate response? This is a question that many Bible teachers feel they must answer. To do this, they pull in texts from the gospels of Mark and Luke to show that Jesus had been in the region of Galilee for some time; they surmise these four men must have witnessed his teaching and miracles and that this is what made them ready and eager to follow Jesus when called upon to do so. This is true, but it is an error to attempt to qualify Matthew’s account of the event in this way.
What Matthew wants the modern reader to understand is that Peter, Andrew, James, and John felt the need to immediately respond to Christ’s call because of Who was calling them. Jesus was not just an ordinary Rabbi looking to make disciples. He was God in the flesh. He was the King of the Kingdom that had come. His reign was not just over the region of Galilee but over the entire universe. These four men knew that they were His subjects and were obliged to respond with decisively sacrificial expedience.
We read that they left their boats. They left their nets. They even left their fathers behind. For them, it was a no-brainer. They had been called up. The boats, and nets, and the traditions of their fathers no longer held any profit for them. Oh, they did not comprehend all that they would need to understand. The did understand enough, though, to know that the only way forward was to follow the One who called them.
Over the next few years, Jesus would, indeed, make them “fishers of men.” He taught them all that they needed to know. He showed them all that they must suffer. He shaped their understanding of who He was by revealing Himself to them as the suffering servant sent to die on behalf of sinners.
Peter would preach the first ever Holy Spirit filled sermon at Pentecost, and become one of the most influential leaders of the early church. John, the son of Zebedee, would become John the Revelator and write a gospel and three letters (besides the Revelation) that would become part of the canon of the New Testament. James would give his life as a witness for Christ after being arrested with his brother John in Acts 12. Andrew is only mentioned once in the book of Acts and does not appear in any of the epistles, but we can safely conclude that he too was used of the Lord in the early church as well.
Peter, Andrew, James, and John may have been the first called disciples, but they were not the last. He would call eight other men to be a part of His earthly ministry. One of them would betray Him. Today, Jesus continues to call individuals to follow Him. Many, unlike the four mentioned in Matthew 4, refuse to respond to His command.
With each passing year fewer and fewer people entering the mission field and vocational ministry. Churches are struggling to keep the doors open all over the country. Less money is given to support mission efforts at home and around the world. The cooperation between sister churches which gave rise to the mission boards grows more and more stagnant.
Tell me, is it reasonable to believe that in these last days Jesus is less concerned about the lost? Is it reasonable to believe that He has just quit fishing? Do you think Jesus still makes the glory of God and the reconciliation of mankind to the Father a priority? Is it not more reasonable to believe that Jesus is still calling individuals to follow Him? Yes, the problem is that fewer and fewer are willing to make the sacrifice.
In these last days, the hearts of men have grown cold. People still hear Him call, but they deny His authority. They remain in their boats. Unwilling to make the sacrifice, they continue in their vain pursuit of worldly things. They value their boats and nets over the eternal glory of God and the salvation He brings. Their boats and nets will eventually rot. The life they love will come to an end. Their possessions will be passed on to people who will not care. They will be forgotten. They will miss out on the blessings of God.
The pursuit of Christ is the only way to a happy life. It is the only way to discovering true purpose. Pursuing Christ requires sacrifice, and it requires an affirmative response to His call to follow Him. He said in Luke 9:23-25, “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?’”
Next week, we will see the final command. Until then....
Bro. Robby Rikard was born and raised in Clarksdale, MS. He came to know Jesus as His Savior in Grace Baptist Church in 1994. He is married to Jennifer and they have a daughter, MaKayla (14) and a son, John Grayson (9). Robby is a graduate of Mississippi State University (BS. Forest Management) and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Master of Theological Studies). He pastors FBC Wiggins, MS.