Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Third Sunday After The Epiphany

Option #1: "Jesus' Power & Light Company: Partners Wanted"
Matthew 4:12-23

Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

  I. Darkness abounds--vv13-16; Isaiah 42:6-7, 60:1-3; Luke 1:78-79, 2:30-32

 II. Light comes through repentance and faith--v17; Luke 15:7, 24:46-47; Acts 3:19, 20:21, 26:20

III. The role of partners--vv18-23; Matt 9:9 & 35; Mark 6:7ff; John 12:26; Luke 5:9-11; Jesus needed partners, companions to work and "watch" with him--cf Matt 26:38; Matt 27:25 re: the women of Galilee

MacArthur's New Testament Commentary

God sent His Son to earth--to preach, die, and be raised--for the very purpose of saving people from sin. The Father "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him" (John 3:16-17). The Son Himself came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). The Holy Spirit gives to those who believe "the washing of regeneration and renewing" (Titus 3:5). The whole Trinity is at work in the ministry of saving humankind from sin. Evangelism is the great concern of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

God’s concern for redeeming mankind did not, of course, begin when He sent His Son to earth. In the Garden of Eden He promised that one day sin would be destroyed, that Satan’s very head would be bruised (Gen 3:15). In His covenant with Abraham He promised that in him "all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen 12:3). In the covenant at Sinai God called Israel to "be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:6), a kingdom of His witnesses to the world to draw all mankind to Himself.

The writer of Proverbs reminded Israel that "he who is wise wins souls" (Prov 11:30).

The Lord told Daniel, "Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever" (Dan 12:3).

Evangelism was the great concern of the New Testament church. Immediately after Pentecost, the new believers were totally dedicated to God and to winning others to Him. As they studied at the apostles’ feet, shared with each other, and praised God, they came to have "favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:42-47).

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Visual aid: any product that has "Johnson & Johnson" or some other partnership indicated.

You see these names on after shower powder or bandages and other things you need. The men who started the business were partners named JOHNSON & JOHNSON. If you have a computer, you probably use some equipment that says "HP" on it. That’s because the men who started business were named " HEWLETT & PACKARD."

When I was in high school, the biology teacher would tell us that we needed a partner. My friend and I learned about God’s creation by dissecting a frog. You will too, probably, when you get that far. When I played football, we had to choose a partner to help get our muscles loosened up so that we wouldn’t hurt ourselves.

When you get older, you may start your own business. You may need a partner if you do. Where I live, there are two ladies from one of our churches who are partners in operating a coffee shop and restaurant.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is out looking for partners. He started at a lake in Galilee. He found two brothers named Peter and Andrew. Then two more brothers who were partners with their father in the fishing business also became partners of Jesus. Their names were James and John.

This is no fish story. This is as up-to-date as today’s newspaper. Jesus wanted partners then and he still wants them today. He could do his work of saving people on his own power. Or he could use angels. But he doesn’t. He calls you and me to be his partners in sharing the Good News of the great things he has done for us and for the whole wide world. We are his partners in sharing his love with the world. Many Christians organizations are now helping the Tsunami victims in Asia.

What he said to those men, he says to you and me today: "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." You don’t have to stop what you’re doing the way they did. In fact, he wants you to reach out to the people you know at school or in your neighborhood.

When Paul the Apostle started churches, he made the people there his partners in the Gospel. Looking back at the start of one of those churches, he wrote: (Phil 1:4) In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5) because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6) being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Dedicate your life to being a partner of Jesus and he will reward you for it in eternal life. You couldn’t have a better partner anywhere, anytime.


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Option #2: "God's Acolytes"
Matthew 4:18-20
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The Point: God calls us to fish for people, not to catch them, and such fishing first and foremost involves following Him.

The Problem: we put the cart before the horse, fishing before following, relying upon our own "fish sense" and "tackle."

The Promise: God will continually fish for us, forgiving us when we fish for ourselves, and guiding and empowering us to fish for Him.

1. amphiblestron {am-fib'-lace-tron}, v18: anything thrown around one to impede motions, as chains, a garment, a net for fishing. (Blue Letter Bible)
2. akoloutheo {ak-ol-oo-theh'-o}, v20: follow one who precedes, join as an attendant, accompany; to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple; side with his party. (Ibid)
3.  Notice that God's call is not to catch fish, but simply to fish. Catching is His job--through us, mind you--but He supplies whatever is necessary to make the catch.

4. In the ancient world fishing was a metaphor for two distinct activities: judgment and teaching. Fishing for people meant bringing them to justice by dragging them out of their hiding places and setting them before the judge at the end of the world. And fishing was also used of teaching people, of the process of leading them from ignorance to wisdom. Both cases involve a radical change of environment, a break with a former way of life and entrance upon a new. (Smith)

5. ...catching people is the opposite of catching fish: the fish would be caught, killed, cooked, and eaten; people would be caught so as to remove them from the eternal flames of hell and to give them new life. (Daniel Wallace)
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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:34 PM