Groundwork for the Soul: Sermon Study Guide #4- The Call

READ Matthew 4:18-25

There are many times in life when the questions of direction come to the forefront – “Where am I headed? Which direction should I go?” Which college should I attend? What should be my major? Where will I find my first job?  Should I stay in this career? Am I called to singleness, or should I get married? How should I educate and parent my kids? Now that I’m in mid life, what’s next?. When should I retire? As a retiree, how should I use my time?

The call of Jesus to follow Him is a call to consider what it means for Jesus to set the direction of our lives.


It was a pursuing call. In Jesus’ day, the idea of being a follower/disciple of a religious leader/teacher or prophet was common but the standard practice was that disciples came to the teacher. The initiative was on the side of the disciple. Jesus completely reverses this. He takes the initiative and calls. The point is that it wasn’t anything in these men that caused Jesus to call them. No one comes to Jesus on their own initiative. We need to know that we are not the one in the lead. We come on His terms, not ours.

It was a personal call. Jesus’ call is simple and direct:  “Follow Me,” not “follow my teaching and ideas, my example, my rules, my cause.” The focal point is on the person of Jesus. It wasn’t so much about what Jesus had done up to this point but about who He was. There was something compelling, commanding and convincing about Him.


When Jesus began his ministry by calling people to “Follow me,” He was inviting people to start a journey of living life under His leadership. This was the main goal and purpose of his entire ministry – to build a community of followers. This means that becoming a disciple is not a part of what it means to be a Christian - it is what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian is to be a disciple/a follower of Jesus’ leadership – What does this look like?

The call to following Jesus is costly. The four men highlighted in this text were not peasants living a life of poverty, they were businessmen making a good living by their hard work. To follow Jesus meant they “left behind” their “nets,” “boats” and even family/business partners. Following Jesus meant downward mobility for them. The lesson is that at each point in our lives when we are considering the call to follow Jesus - it will entail a cost.        

The call to follow Jesus is comprehensive. To become a disciple at this time meant you literally followed a leader/teacher around everywhere and all the time. When Jesus said, “Follow me,” he meant “come with me where I go, watch what I do, listen to what I say; bring all of your life into your relationship with Me.” The call to follow is the same today. We can’t separate off some of our life from Jesus’ call to follow – it involves all of life.

The call to follow Jesus is communal. Jesus never calls us to follow him alone. From the very beginning we see that though his call is very personal, it is also always communal. He calls these disciples in pairs. He formed and built a community of followers on mission.


When Jesus sets the direction of our lives, he calls us to join him in his mission. In his mission, people are the priority. Just as these four men were focused on fish as fishermen - where they are, how do we find them, how can we catch them -  so if they follow Jesus, they will be focused on people. Going to where they are, moving toward them and pointing them toward following Jesus.

What’s interesting to note is that Matthew ends this section of Jesus’ launching His public ministry with two very different pictures. Picture #1 – Four men heeding the call of Jesus. Picture #2 – Great crowds from the entire land of Israel hearing about Jesus. The fame and buzz is growing! Which one gets us more excited? The crowds + fame? Or the call of a faithful few? As the story continues, we learn that the crowds ended up turning on Jesus but the faithful few started a movement that changed the world! The call to fish is a call to “think small” and invest in the people God has put into our lives.


1.      What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.     Where in your life are you in need of direction or asking, “Where am I headed?”

3.     How might returning to the simple/personal call of Jesus to “Follow Me” help you refocus when you are confused, overwhelmed or discouraged?

4.     Costly Call - What might Jesus be calling you to leave in order that you might more fully & faithfully follow Him?

5.     Comprehensive Call - What might Jesus be calling you to incorporate that you’ve kept separate? What would following Jesus look like in this area of your life?

6.     Communal Call - Who might Jesus be calling me to follow Him with in this season of my life?

7.     Are there any ways you are struggling to “make people the priority” in your life? Are there specific people God may be calling you to invest in in order to help them to consider or continue following Jesus?