WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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CALLED TO FOLLOW
(The ministry of JESUS begins)
As I stated in the lesson a couple of weeks ago, the arrest of John the Baptist by King Herod Antipas triggered the beginning of JESUS’ three years of ministering here on earth. After John’s incarceration JESUS went to Galilee and began preaching GOD’s Good News, announcing that the Kingdom of GOD was near, and urging people to repent and turn from their sin (Matthew 4:12).
However, instead of going to HIS hometown of Nazareth, JESUS traveled to Capernaum in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This move by JESUS was done in order that the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 9:1-2) would be fulfilled. It is as if JESUS already knew that HIS preaching and teaching would be rejected in the familiar surroundings of the place where HE grew up.
One day as JESUS was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee HE came upon two commercial fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew, going about their work, fishing with nets in their boat just off shore. JESUS shouted out to them, and invited them to come and let HIM teach them how to fish for the souls of men. As if through divine discernment, they immediately came to shore, left their boat, and began to follow JESUS (Vs. 18-20).
A little farther up the shore they came upon Zebedee’s sons, James and John, who were sitting in their large boat with their father and several hired men, mending their torn fishing nets. JESUS called them out of the group and invited them also, to come and follow HIM. And just like Simon and Andrew, they immediately left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with his men, and began following JESUS (Vs.21-22).
People commonly believe that JESUS was just calling these men from their jobs. However, what was happening here in this passage was that, JESUS was actually calling them out of the Church, which had been contaminated by the teachings (yeast) of the Pharisees and others for years, so that HE could teach them the pure undiluted Word of GOD, and then send them back into the Church to fix it, and make it a righteous and holy place of worship, teaching, and prayer again.
Here JESUS was calling these men to a greater occupation (fishing for men) that would require them to, not just use their physical and mental prowess, but rather, for this task that they were called to, it would take all of their hearts, all of their souls, all of their minds, and all of their hands to accomplish.
Peter (also called Simon), James (son of Zebedee), John (son of Zebedee), Andrew (Peter’s brother), Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (also called Levi), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the Zealot), and Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed JESUS), are the original twelve disciples who were called on by JESUS to follow HIM.
With the exception of John, who lived to be a ripe old age, all of the other disciples, except Judas (who died a shameful death because of his betrayal of JESUS), are believed to have died a martyr’s death. James (son of Zebedee) was the first to die, as he was ordered to be killed by the sword by King Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-2).
Jewish tradition has it that Peter died in Rome on an upside down cross. He requested to be nailed upside because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as CHRIST did. Andrew, according to Roman Catholic tradition, was crucified on “an x-shaped cross” in Macedonia, while James (son of Alphaeus) was crucified in Persia, where he did most of his preaching.
Bartholomew, perhaps died the most horrified death of all of the disciples as he was, first, decorticated (skinned alive), and then beheaded, on the orders of King Astriagis in India. And then there’s Thaddaeus, who was stoned to death by a group of magicians in the city of Suanir, in Persia.
Matthew is believed to have been killed (manner of death unknown) in the city of Nadabah, in what is now present-day Iran, in A.D. 60. Thomas, like Bartholomew, was also martyred in India (manner of death unknown), and was buried in the city of Mylapore, now a suburb of Madras.
Many scholars believe that Matthias, whom the disciples chose on their own, to replace Judas Iscariot, was later disqualified and replaced by James, the brother of JESUS. They base their argument largely on what is written in Galatians 1:19 and 2:9, however, nothing in Scripture suggest that Matthias ever left the group.
To be called by GOD is a serious undertaking. Long before we realize HIS calling, GOD is already preparing us for HIS glorious purpose. JESUS is also calling each of us to follow HIS magnificent lead into Eternal Life. When we choose to follow CHRIST, and then, begin to practice HIS examples, we receive HIS heart, and thus, our lives will fade into HIS. We become more like HIM, and thus, we become more like GOD HIMSELF, WHO is our CREATOR. We began to desire to come as close as we can to being “functionally perfect” in the biblical sense (striving to sin no more), while we live out the rest of life here on earth.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website