Sabbath School Lesson 03 - The Most Wonderful Invitation

Sabbath, October 20, 2018

“These men [the disciples] were as true as steel to principle. They were men who would not fail nor be discouraged. They were full of reverence and zeal for God, full of noble purposes and aspirations. They were by nature as weak and helpless as any of those now engaged in the work, but they put their whole trust in the Lord. Wealth they had, but it consisted of mind and soul culture; and this every one may have who will make God first and last and best in everything. They toiled long to learn the lessons given them in the school of Christ, and they did not toil in vain. They bound themselves up with the mightiest of all powers, and were ever longing for a deeper, higher, broader comprehension of eternal realities, that they might successfully present the treasures of truth to a needy world.”Gospel Workers, p. 25.

1. What did the people living on the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim (the area beyond Jordan and Galilee, where the Gentiles were enshrouded in spiritual darkness) see when the Saviour visited those regions?

Matthew 4:13-16 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

“These humble fishermen were Christ’s first disciples. He did not say that they were to receive a certain sum for their services. They were to share with Him His self-denial and sacrifices.” –Counsels on Health, p. 317.

“The religion of Christ is not a selfish religion. It is not to be kept under lock and key, but it is to be an influence of power going forth from every genuine Christian to enlighten those that sit in darkness. Every soul connected with a true Christian will be made better thereby. We are to be God’s light bearers, reflecting the steady beams of heaven upon others.” –Reflecting Christ, p. 205.

The heavenly kingdom at hand

2. What specific message did Jesus preach everywhere? What was connected with the news of the heavenly kingdom?

Matthew 4:17; 18:11 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…. 18:11For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

“The message He had proclaimed throughout the land, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 4:17), had arrested the attention of all classes, and had still further fanned the flame of their ambitious hopes. The fame of the new Teacher had spread beyond the limits of Palestine, and, notwithstanding the attitude of the hierarchy, the feeling was widespread that this might be the hoped-for Deliverer. Great multitudes thronged the steps of Jesus, and the popular enthusiasm ran high.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 2, 3.

“No soul knows what God is until he sees himself a sinner in the light from the cross of Calvary; but when in his great need he cries out for a sin-pardoning Saviour, God is revealed to him as gracious and merciful, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. The work of Christ is to redeem, to restore, to seek and to save that which was lost. If we are connected with Christ, we also are partakers of the divine nature and are to be laborers together with God. We are to bind up the bruised and wounded soul; and if a brother or a sister has erred, we are not to join with the enemy in destroying and ruining, but to work with Christ to restore such a one in the spirit of meekness.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 291.

3. Whom did Jesus meet as He was walking on the shore of the Sea of Galilee? What were they doing?

Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

“… The words of Christ were an invitation that implied all that He meant it should. There was an impelling influence in His words. There was no long explanation, but what He said had a drawing power….

“Christ would make these humble fishermen, in connection with Himself, the means of taking men out of the service of Satan, and making them believers in Christ, teaching them in regard to the kingdom of God. In this work they would become His ministers, fishers of men….” –Our Father Cares, pp. 226, 227.

4. What special call did He address to them? What great change did He make in their lives?

Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

“Wherever hearts were open to receive the divine message, He unfolded the truths of the way of salvation. He did not command the disciples to do this or that, but said, ‘Follow Me.’ On His journeys through country and cities, He took them with Him, that they might see how He taught the people. They traveled with Him from place to place. They shared His frugal fare, and like Him were sometimes hungry and often weary. On the crowded streets, by the lakeside, in the lonely desert, they were with Him. They saw Him in every phase of life.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 17.

5. Whom else did He meet when they were hard at work? What special call did He address to them?

Matthew 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

“The old-time spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice is too seldom met with. But this is the only spirit that can actuate a true follower of Jesus. Our divine Master has given us an example of how we are to work. And to those whom He bade, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,’ He offered no stated sum as a reward for their services. They were to share with Him His self-denial and sacrifice.” –Messages to Young People, p. 303.

Readiness to respond to the appeal

6. How did Simon, Andrew, James, and John respond to Jesus’ call? What did all four men leave behind to follow the Master?

Matthew 4:20, 22 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him…. 22And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

“The prompt, unquestioning obedience of these men, with no promise of wages, seems remarkable; but the words of Christ were an invitation that carried with it an impelling power. Christ would make these humble fishermen, in connection with Himself, the means of taking men out of the service of Satan, and placing them in the service of God. In this work they would become His witnesses, bearing to the world His truth unmingled with the traditions and sophistries of men. By practicing His virtues, by walking and working with Him, they were to be qualified to be fishers of men.

“Thus were the first disciples appointed to the work of the gospel ministry. For three years they labored in connection with the Saviour, and by His teaching, His works of healing, His example, they were prepared to carry on the work that He began. By the simplicity of faith, by pure, humble service, the disciples were taught to carry responsibilities in God’s cause.” –Gospel Workers, p. 24.

7. How did Jesus carry on His work of evangelism in different regions? What drew people to Him? What did multitudes of people do, even though Jesus had not called them as He had the disciples?

Matthew 4:23-25 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. 24And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. 25And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

“Christ might have occupied the highest place among the highest teachers of the Jewish nation. But He chose rather to take the gospel to the poor. He went from place to place, that those in the highways and byways might catch the words of the gospel of truth. He labored in the way in which He desires His workers to labor today. By the sea, on the mountainside, in the streets of the city, His voice was heard explaining the Old Testament Scriptures. So unlike the explanations of the scribes and Pharisees was His explanation that the attention of the people was arrested. He taught as one having authority,... With clearness and power He proclaimed the gospel message.” –Evangelism, p. 54.

Thought questions

  • If I had been in the disciples’ place, would I have so gladly accepted Jesus’ invitation?
  • Would I have been willing, without hesitation, to leave the sea, my nets, and my profession to become one of His disciples?
  • Whom did they see in the Master of Galilee?

For additional study

“Workers of this character are needed now, men who will consecrate themselves without reserve to the work of representing the kingdom of God to a world lying in wickedness. The world needs men of thought, men of principle, men who are constantly growing in understanding and discernment. There is great need of men who can use the press to the best advantage, that the truth may be given wings to speed it to every nation, and tongue, and people.” –Gospel Workers, p. 25.

“Mark the features of Christ’s work. He moved in the greatest simplicity. Although His followers were fishermen, He did not advise them to go first into the school of the rabbis before entering upon the work. He called His disciples from their fishers’ nets, and said: ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ He called Matthew from the receipt of customs, and said, ‘Follow Me.’ All that they were required to do was to follow Jesus, to do as He commanded them, and thus enter into His school, where God could be their teacher. As long as time shall last, we shall have need of schools. There will always be need for education; but we must be careful lest education shall absorb every spiritual interest.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 359.