Four Fishermen Follow Jesus
Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-34; Luke 4:33 to 5:11
Andrew and Simon, James and John, all leave their nets and follow Jesus.
HEN JESUS RETURNED
from the Feast of the Passover at Jerusalem, his disciples were with him, you remember. But after coming into Galilee Jesus went to his home in Nazareth and the disciples returned to their homes in Capernaum.
After the proud men of Nazareth tried to kill Jesus, he left their city and went to live in Capernaum, too. Here he taught in the synagog on the Sabbath-days, and the people of Capernaum were glad to listen to his words. He did not teach them as did their usual Jewish teachers, repeating the same words again and again each time he spoke, but always his words sounded new, and just as if God were speaking to the people.
One morning Andrew and Simon were busy at work in their fishing-boats on the Sea of Galilee when they saw Jesus walking along the shore. He called to them, and they left their boats and followed him. Farther along they saw two other fishermen in a ship mending their torn nets.
These men were brothers, and their names were James and John. They were partners in the fishing business with Simon and Andrew, and when they saw their partners following Jesus they ceased their work, wondering where Simon and Andrew were going. Jesus called them also, and they left their ship at once in the care of their father and the servants who were helping mend the nets.
Taking these four fishermen with him, Jesus returned to the city. And on the next Sabbath-day they went with him into the synagog, where many people had come to hear his words.
Among the crowd who had gathered that day in the synagog was one man in whom Satan had put a very bad spirit.
This bad spirit caused the man to cry aloud when he saw Jesus, and say, "Let us alone! What do we have to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? I know you are the Holy One from God."
Jesus was not pleased to have a spirit of Satan speak to him like this. So he commanded the bad spirit to come out of the man. And the spirit threw the poor man on the floor before all the people, tearing him and crying with a wicked cry. But at Jesus' command the bad spirit had to leave the man; for Jesus has power over all the power of Satan, to cast out the evil spirits that come to dwell in people.
When those standing by saw what Jesus had done, they were greatly astonished. Never before had they seen any one with power to rebuke the evil spirits. They said to each other, "What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for Jesus even dares to command evil spirits and they must obey him!"
Quickly the news of this wonderful happening in the synagog spread to every part of the city, and everybody became interested in the great teacher who had lately come to live among them. They were so glad he had come, and they wished to carry their suffering friends and loved ones to him that he might cure them of their sicknesses and diseases. So they began to plan how they might do this.
Jesus had gone with his disciples from the synagog to the home of Simon and Andrew. When they arrived they heard that Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with fever. So they told Jesus about her, and brought him into the room where she lay suffering.
Jesus came to her bedside, and taking hold of her hand he lifted her up. At that very moment the fever departed and strength came into her body again. She rose from her bed and helped to prepare food for the disciples and their wonderful teacher.
At sunset the Sabbath-day closed for the Jews and then they were free to begin their work again, for they never did any work on the Sabbath. When sunset came on this day of rest Simon and Andrew were surprised to see throngs of people coming toward their home.
From every direction the people were coming, some with crippled friends leaning on their arms, and others with blind friends walking by their side. Still others were carrying cots on which lay their sick children or other relatives, and all of them were coming to ask Jesus to drive away the sicknesses and diseases and to make their friends and loved ones well again.
What a busy time followed! Jesus was glad to help these poor sufferers and to make them well. He touched them, one by one, and they were healed. He even cast out many evil spirits from the people who had come, and he would not allow those spirits to cry out like the evil spirit had done in the synagog.
Finally the last group of happy friends departed from the doorstep, and Jesus lay down to sleep in Simon's house. How very tired he must have been! But after sleeping only a few hours he rose up quietly and left the city. He sought for a place where he might be all alone to talk with his heavenly Father, for often he prayed earnestly to God for strength and help to do the great work that he had to do.
When daylight broke, people began coming again to Simon's home, asking for Jesus. But Jesus was not there. Simon and his friends began to search for Jesus, and they found him at his place of prayer.
They told him about the anxious seekers who had come early to find him again, and Jesus said, "I must preach the kingdom of God in other cities also, for I am sent to do this great work." So the disciples went with him to visit other cities of Galilee, and Jesus taught in the synagogs of those cities and cast out evil spirits, as he had done in Capernaum. And many people believed in him.
After some time he returned again to Capernaum, and his disciples went back to their work as fishermen. But Jesus continued to teach the people who came to hear his words. One day he went out to the seaside where his disciples were at work, washing their nets. Many people saw him leave the city, and they followed. Soon a great crowd gathered on the shore, eager to hear him preach. So Jesus asked permission to sit in Simon's ship and speak to the people who stood on the shore.
When Jesus finished speaking he told Simon to row out into the deep water and lower his net to catch some fish.
Simon replied, "Master, we have fished all night and have caught nothing; however, if you wish we will try again."
So they rowed away from the land and let down their nets once more. This time a great many fishes quickly swam into the net and were caught. Simon and Andrew could not draw them out of the water alone, for their net began to break with the weight of the many fishes. They signaled for their partners, James and John, and the four men worked together.
They had never seen so many fishes in one net before. Soon the ship was filled, and they began to put more fish in the second ship. Finally both ships began to sink with the weight of the fishes and the men.
Now, the fishermen knew that Jesus had performed a miracle by causing so many fish to be in the net. Simon fell down at Jesus' knees and cried, "Leave me, O Lord! for I am a sinful man and am not worthy of all you have given to us here."
But Jesus was not ready to leave Simon. He answered, "Do not be afraid, for hereafter you shall catch men."
And Simon understood from Jesus' words that he must leave his fishing business and follow the Master everywhere he went. So when the fishers made their way to the shore they forsook their ships and walked with Jesus from one city to another, helping him and learning daily more and more about the kingdom of God.
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