October 10, 2019

Peter Was a Fisherman

Matthew 4

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The Temptation of Jesus

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

  “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

  “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’


  “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

  “‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Jesus Begins His Ministry

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15   “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
    the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16   the people dwelling in darkness
    have seen a great light,
  and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
    on them a light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”1

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”2 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus Ministers to Great Crowds

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.


[1] 4:17 Or the kingdom of heaven has come near
[2] 4:19 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women

Peter Was a Fisherman

Key Verse | Matthew 4:19

And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Bio | Joshua Wilhite

Hello, Journeyers!  My wife Gwen and I relocated to Dallas from Michigan with our three daughters in 2015 so I could attend Dallas Theological Seminary. It's been quite a ride, and God's grace has been tangible and overwhelming all along. He keeps finding crazy ways to take care of us, not just logistically, but in ways that speak directly to our hearts. If you had an hour, I'd tell you all about it. 

I'm an obsessive reader who loves adventures and climbing mountains, but for now I'm just curious about what's around the bend after we wrap up seminary.

Central Truth

Jesus didn't change the world with an elite team of super-disciples. He invited and activated normal people, flaws and all. My choice to follow Jesus in His kingdom ministry isn't based on my abilities or track record but on His gracious invitation.

Devotional | Matthew 4

To be honest, I've always had an inferiority complex when it comes to ministry. It seems like I never have the time, energy, or abilities to do things that measure up to the ministry giants in my world....

To be honest, I've always had an inferiority complex when it comes to ministry. It seems like I never have the time, energy, or abilities to do things that measure up to the ministry giants in my world. Anywhere I might have potential, I can find a bunch of people who have more. I can also find enough personal failures and shortcomings to give me pause in any ministry pursuit.

And, when you look at Matthew 4, it could fortify that thinking at first. At the start of the chapter, Jesus defeats the devil himself (Matthew 4:1-11). Then, He fulfills 600-year-old prophecies (Matthew 4:12-17). His moving from Nazareth to Galilee is likened to a bright eternal light freeing a whole region from a kingdom of darkness. He's the Great Liberator who's going to break the yoke of oppression and establish a kingdom of peace. It's a super-stellar, intergalactic, ultra-eternal movement of God Almighty. It's a movement fit for St. Augustine, Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis, and Billy Graham—to tear down worldly kingdoms and powers in the name of Jesus Christ.

But then in Matthew 4:18-22, this grand scope of eternal magnitude gets zoomed in to a scene that's totally relatable to anyone with eyes to see it. Jesus is walking in an everyday place like an everyday guy, and He stops and uses His everyday mouth to speak everyday words to call everyday guys to use their everyday feet and everyday hearts to join Him in this eternal endeavor.

It could have just as easily happened in a Walmart checkout lane or a corporate C-suite.

This is what eternal magnitude actually looks like: fishermen—not superheroes—fishermen. Fishermen heard His call. Fishermen chose. Fishermen got out of their boats and followed Jesus.

I can do that.

Maybe following Jesus in ministry is less about capacity and more about calling. 

Maybe it's less about the one who's called and more about the One who calls.

We can all do that.

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Discussion Questions

1. When have you found yourself hesitating in your calling to follow Jesus?

2. The Apostle Peter wrote 1 Peter 2:9 years after Matthew 4:18-22 happened. How does his late-in-life confidence and lack of regret speak to your previous answer?

3. When Jesus said "fishers of men," He was word-playing on the vocation of the people He was calling. Today, He could just as easily say, "realtors," "homemakers," or "educators of men." What is your vocation? What might you do differently today if you saw your vocation through the lens of Jesus' mission to draw people to Himself?

4. Take a moment and nail down one thing you can do today to bring someone one step closer to knowing Jesus.

10 Comments available

Jay Caruso 5 months ago

Great stuff Joshua. Continuing success with seminary and continue your humble faith and enjoy the ride with peace and patience. Since I have become a Christian i ah e enjoyed every minute of follow our lord and savior in all ways but I do have failure but still go to him for his grace and forgiveness

greg jones 5 months ago

Great devotional.

“Not living by bread alone” is Deuteronomy 8:3b. If you’re hungry why not eat is my question. I went back to Deuteronomy 8:2-3 and I see that eating the manna was a part of learning a hard new lesson about the word of the Lord. Thought that was interesting.

I hope success in ministry after seminary for you.

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

Jesus tempted in the dessert is in an anti-type of Adam and Eve the garden of Eden. Jesus was alone (unlike Adam), he had nothing to eat (unlike Adam), He had wild animals to deal with (unlike Adam), he was tempted more severely, more often, and under the harder temptation he did not give in.

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

This temptation was from Psalm 91

“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

The devil stops short of reading on where it says ‘you will tread upon the lion and the cobra’. Jesus is the one who (eventually) crushes the opposition, be it serpent or lion.

I recommend the Son’s of Korah’s song version of Psalm 91 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUZhTMZF_1I

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

The people walking in darkness will see a great light Is 9:2 and there will be rejoicing as in days of a great victory Is 9:3-4 and even will be time to burn the boots of every warrior (that type of war ceasing?) Is 9:5 and the epicenter of the rejoicing? “Unto us a child is born, a son is given.” Is 9:6,7

Brett Scarborough 5 months ago

Agree. Awesome reading this morning. I needed that, and the ‘everyday’ aspects you highlighted brings His calling down to my ordinary level and helps make this even more personal.

Hope Harris 5 months ago

I like the FATE idea thanks for sharing Sue. I really love how Jesus goes to everyday men and calls them to follow Him

Sue Bohlin 5 months ago

Really outstanding devo, Joshua! Particularly in view of your emphasis on Jesus bringing light into the kingdom of darkness. Years ago I read Dallas Willard’s exposition of the sermon on the mount, The Divine Conspiracy, and I loved how he illustrated Jesus’ statement “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” by the electrification of the U.S. One small area of the country at a time got the good news, “Electricity in your own home and buildings is now available!” The Greek for “at hand” includes the meaning, “to join one thing to another.” Joining one building at a time to the power grid is a great illustration of Jesus making His divine light and power of the kingdom of heaven available to us!

Sue Bohlin 5 months ago

P.S. Hugh, the Plano women’s ministry made a great adjustment to the call to be FAT: we are looking for people who are Faithful, Available, Teachable, and Emotionally Healthy. It’s a lot easier to ask women to respond to a call to FATE than saying we’re looking for FAT women!

Hugh Stephenson 5 months ago

GM Joshua. Awesome devo. Well done.

Love your truth about how our ability or track record is not relevant, (thank God). A young friend says, “It’s not about your ability. It’s about your AVAIL-ability.”

A saying I heard recently is that we want people who are F.A.T; Faithful, Available and Teachable.

I note the instant reaction of these four disciples to being called. The word is “immediately” in both responses. No hesitation. No dithering over the “cost”. Indeed, 11 of the 12 would die the gruesome death of martyrs.

What could four common fishermen do?

Did David hesitate? Was there any doubt in his mind?

What good was a young shepherd boy against a giant?

How could a timid, stuttering man lead a group of slaves to escape from the most powerful nation in the world?

Father, I surrender 100% of my agenda to yours. May I always be F.A.T.

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