Some wasted rambling thoughts on my Sunday sermon from Matthew 4:12-22: Jesus launches a new movement in an uncool place and offers some fisher-training
Some thoughts and ramblings from my sermon this past Sunday at Christ Presbyterian Church in the Hill (New Haven, CT).
Our text on Sunday (9/30/18) was Matthew 4:12-22. I talked about church, church planting, and church ministry in uncool places–you know across the Jordon, out of bounds, the wrong side of the promised land, the wrong side of the railroad tracks, the Galilee of Gentiles, yeh them, those guys . . . so uncool and the wrong place to launch a movement that would change the world . . . I talked about the Hill and how outsiders view us . . . my good people let me be really real for a moment . . . and I talked about the Mole people, those cast aways, ignored, forgotten, smelly, hidden folks that live underneath New York City in the vast corridors of old train and subway tunnels . . . uncool . . . and why there isn't a line of Christians lining up for these places (the Hill and the Mole People tunnels) . . . upward mobility is a calling you know, not downward mobility (I am being sarcastic, if you can't tell) . . . where's that line of Christians called to uncool places?
Then I talked about Jesus' call to follow him (Mat 4:19, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men"). Most think this is a call to be fishers of men (whatever you think this means, it isn't); it is a call to follow Jesus and then he promises to make them "fishers of men." And, we saw right there in the story . . . they followed him (so you have the following, 4:20, 22) and then the fisher-training began (4:23 till the end of the Gospel). Matthew, in his crafting of 4:19, the command to follow actually "follow behind me," in other words, watch what I do when we are out in the public. So the fisher-training comes in this set of scenes right away:
I connected the fisher-following to the Great Commission at the end of Matthew. Gave it an intra-Matthean spin in light of the call to follow and the fisher-training:
Go, therefore, and make disciples (other fisher-followers who will watch what you do, not just what you preach) of all nations (i.e., ethnic groups/πάντα τὰ ἔθνη), yes out there (to the Jewish first disciples) in very uncool places, among those polytheistic pagans, most definitely those across the railroad tracks. The Hill. The Mole People. Get lined up in those places, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (there's that fisher-training again). Make more fisher-followers because judgment will come (the actual thing behind the "fisher" metaphor), but be assured of this, if you go to those uncool places and make disciples, behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age when the judgment will come upon the sons and daughters of Adam.
Go heal. Be with the oppressed and afflicted. Those having seizures and cannot walk. Those in pain. This is the crowd I went to just after you followed (in chapter 4). This is being fishers of men. And this will be the same crowd, the afflicted and oppressed (note and compare Mat 4:25 and 5:1) that I will teach on that Mount (in chapter 5) is blessed.
This will then show that the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
For further understanding of the meaning of "fishers of men," check out this Wasted Blog >> Dangerous Sunday Devotions: Called to be fisher-followers of Jesus, emptying our advantage out for those at a disadvantage
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.