Matthewby Mike Raiter
One popular hymn is Judson Van DeVenter's ″I Surrender All″. DeVenter had been struggling between developing his artistic talents and becoming a full-time evangelist. Finally, he surrendered all. He said, ″A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me.″ In 1896 he published his famous hymn:
All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
Matthew begins his account of the Lord Jesus' public ministry by telling us of His return to Galilee. He makes His home and base of operations in Capernaum (vv. 12-13). He goes there not just because it is His home territory but, more importantly, because it also fulfils the prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-2, which states that the Messiah will begin His ministry there. And since there was a large Gentile population present, another possible reason is that it demonstrates that Jesus is Saviour of all nations, not just of the Jews. Like John the Baptist, Jesus preached the kingdom of God, but where John had promised its coming, Jesus heralds and embodies its arrival.
Matthew now describes how the first disciples ″surrender all″ (vv. 20, 22). This is probably not their first encounter with Jesus (cf. John 1:35-42), but now His summons turns their lives upside down, calling on them to leave their homes, work, and family. Jesus' disciples cannot just sit and learn; they must walk and follow. They become the master's apprentices and learn to fish for something far more valuable than food: the hearts and lives of people (v. 19).
Jesus' threefold ministry was teaching the Scriptures, publicly proclaiming the good news, and healing (v. 23; Matthew 9:35), by which He wonderfully demonstrated that God's kingdom had broken into a hurting world.
We too have sat in darkness and heard the same call: Follow me. Every true disciple of Jesus surrenders all. Some have done it literally (Matthew 19:27), while the rest have done it potentially, ready to leave everything in order to announce and build the kingdom. We too demonstrate by word and deed that the true King has come to save and to rule.
Reflect on what Jesus' command, ″Follow me″, means for you personally and practically.
Matthew tells us that both sets of brothers ″immediately″ left everything and followed Jesus (vv. 20, 22). What do you think Matthew was trying to tell us in describing the immediacy of their response? What does that mean for our own lives of discipleship?