9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:9–11, NKJV)
The carpenter told the fishermen where to cast their nets to catch fish. Like Peter, when the Master speaks, those who trust the Lord will follow His word. The miraculous catch of fish they hauled to shore prompted Peter to confess his sins to the Lord (Lk. 5:4-8). The fishermen were astonished and afraid, but Jesus eased their fears by assuring them of even greater catches to come. Peter, James, and John soon would be catching souls. The gospel these future apostles preached continues to capture lost souls by convicting sinners and converting them to Christ (Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-48). These men set us a worthy example of immediate conviction, uncompromising priority, and sacrifice of faith in order to serve Jesus. When Jesus speaks, we must forsake all and follow Him (Lk. 14:33; 9:23).
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13, NKJV)
Peter and John were not educated at the feet of the experts of the law. They were “uneducated and untrained” fishermen from Galilee. Their speech was enough to betray that fact (Matthew 26:73). Yet, their boldness to speak truth to power caused the rulers of Israel to marvel (Acts 4:5-12). Then they realized that Peter and John had been with Jesus. Just as Jesus had promised them, their words were given to them by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:17-20; Acts 1:8). Now we have that very same inspired word that they preached. The Holy Scriptures have been breathed out by God as a record of His truth that teaches, reproves, corrects and instructs us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Above all else, we must be educated and trained in the Scriptures – not by the lettered men of the day. We must know that very word the apostles preached, so that our faith will not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Learn the Scriptures. Live the Scriptures. If you will, then you will be with Jesus, too (John 8:31-32; 14:21-24).
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:2–6, NKJV)
The works and words of Jesus were sufficient proof to assure John that Jesus was “the Coming One.” From Moses, to Isaiah, to Jeremiah, to Malachi, God’s prophets foretold of One coming to rule in righteousness and in judgment (Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 11:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Malachi 3:1-3; 4:5-6). The same evidence that assured John still exists on the pages of divinely inspired Scripture, ready for eyes that will see and ears that will hear. Just like John, we too are expected to use this evidence to draw the only possible conclusion (the necessary inference), that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This body of evidence is how the Father revealed this truth to Peter and the whole world (Matthew 16:15-17; John 20:30-31). We dare not stumble (be offended) over who Jesus is. The evidence is sound and abundant. Jesus is the Messiah who was promised. Yes, He is the Coming One who came to save the world.
John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” (John 1:15, NKJV)
Jesus bore witness to the truth that He is the light of the world, and His testimony of Himself was true (John 8:12-13). Even so, additional testimony was given to convince people that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten of the Father (John 5:31-35). The testimony of John corroborated the incarnation and glory of Jesus as the only begotten of the Father, whose Light brought life, grace and truth to the world (John 1:6-9, 14). John ranks Jesus higher than himself (he is “preferred before me”) because He (the Word, the only begotten Son of God) existed before John and created John (John 1:1-3). The Lord’s forerunner bore testimony that Jesus is eternal God who became flesh. As it is testified, “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17). To think of Jesus as merely a good moral teacher misses the mark. His claim, as well as John’s testimony, was that He is God. If He is not, then He is not good, and He is not moral. If He is God, then He is the source of grace and truth who must be honored above all. The evidence is overwhelming – Jesus is Immanuel (“God with us”).
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” (John 1:6–9, NKJV)
John the baptizer was the Messiah’s predicted messenger, the forerunner who testified Jesus to be the Lamb of God and the Son of God (John 1:29-34; Malachi 3:1; Mark 1:1-4). John’s work prepared the people to believe in Jesus as the Christ (Luke 3:3-6). John testified that he had been sent before the Christ, the One who came from heaven and who is “above all” (John 3:28, 31). John further testified that Jesus spoke the words of God that bring life to all who believe in Him (John 3:34-36). As John called sinners to repent and to believe on the One who came after Him—Jesus, he drew attention to the Light that the Word brought into the world. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16). Allow the Light that Jesus brought into the world to shine in your heart and life. Believe in Him and let His light of truth guide your feet in the way of peace (Luke 1:79).
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:11–12, NKJV)
John explained the Messiah’s work as he prepared the way before Him (Matthew 3:3). In a scathing condemnation of the self-righteous hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees, John warned them that Christ would execute judgment against sinners. They needed true repentance to flee the approaching wrath, not reliance on their physical heritage (Matthew 3:7-10). The Christ would bring a baptism of fire upon sinners. This fire burns the “trees” that bear evil fruit (Matthew 3:10). It is the “unquenchable fire” of Matthew 3:12, that overwhelms the wicked. Jesus promised, and baptized His apostles with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8. 2:1-4). He has promised an overwhelming, eternal destruction upon the wicked (Mark 9:43-48). Judgment Day is real, and eternity is forever. Therefore, “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28; Hebrews 9:27). You do not want to experience the Lord’s baptism of fire!
The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. (Luke 16:16, NKJV)
A dramatic shift occurred when John, the forerunner of Messiah, came on the scene. “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mk. 1:4). John proclaimed the good news of an approaching kingdom, and souls began pressing into it as they listened, learned, and “were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mk. 1:5). When Jesus began His work on earth, He preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:14-15). Jesus looked beyond the Law of Moses to the redemptive gospel of God. It is incredible to witness deceived preachers deceiving Christians into thinking that Jesus came teaching the law of Moses to the Jewish people. In today’s passage, Jesus affirms that He was not teaching Moses; He was teaching people to believe in the kingdom of God that He and His gospel brought and opened up to the whole world (Matt. 16:19, 28). Any doctrine that demands viewing Jesus as a rabbi who taught the Law of Moses instead of the gospel of the Messiah’s kingdom is false, and must be refused as the error it is.