Matthew 4:12-23 Sunday School Lesson on Jesus Calling Disciples Fishers of Men

Let’s Fish for Men! Sunday School Lesson on Becoming Followers of Jesus

Sometimes we have to let go of one thing in order to embrace another…when it comes to knowing Jesus, nothing is more awesome and wonderful than He is. It is well worth giving up other things in order to follow Him. We must sometimes set aside what we think is important, in order to get something much better. When we follow Jesus, we seek after a valuable treasure! He makes us co-workers in His kingdom and offers the opportunity to call and help others, too.

 Just as the Lord called His disciples, He calls us to know, follow, and learn from Him. Sometimes following Christ means letting go of things that we think we want. For the original disciples, it meant giving up their jobs to follow wholeheartedly. But Jesus gave up everything to come to Earth and die for us! His sacrifice is far greater, and our gain from knowing Him is more than anything we can imagine.

Use this Sunday School lesson in your children’s ministry or kids Sunday School to teach about becoming a disciple of Jesus. Don’t miss the full 16-page print ready Sunday School lesson, children’s sermon, and Bible craft ideas for kids.

Bible Passage: Matthew 4:12-23

Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade

Materials Needed: Construction paper, markers, stickers, scissors, tape/glue, string, popsicle sticks, yarn/string, cotton balls, paper plates, fishing equipment, decorations (all optional, depending which activities you choose to use).

Lesson Opening Activities for Kids

: This lesson celebrates our call to become fishers of men, following Jesus and inviting others to do the same. To get started, select from one of the following openers, or select another of your own choosing!  

  • What is better relay: split students into teams and have them race relay-style across playing area. As they pass, have students trade out items, swapping things that might represent work or hobbies for items related to faith.
  • Fishing fun! Browse fishing equipment and discuss what it means to be “fishers of men.” Additionally, consider a fishing activity such as tying a string and clothespin onto a paper tube and grabbing prizes for students.
  • Who’s that disciple? This passage describes the calling of the first few disciples. Take some time to review all twelve disciples, perhaps with a matching activity or trivia clues game.
  • Follow the leader. Since this passage describes becoming disciples and following Christ, play a game like Simon says or Follow the Leader, to celebrate following Jesus.

Explain that this lesson involves Jesus calling His first disciples to follow Him. What does this mean? Jesus came to fulfill prophecy and bring hope, just as God had promised. But while on Earth, He allowed others to be part of that mission. Jesus also calls us to follow Him. Sometimes this means leaving behind things we know, but it’s worth it to serve Him and love others!

Ask: What does it mean to follow Jesus? How can we do this in everyday life?

Bible Lesson: Matthew 12:12-23 for Children

Use whatever translation best suits you and your audience. This passage is a wonderful reminder of who Jesus is and why He came for us. If you like, it can be acted out or done in assigned parts. Older students can take turns reading. Or for any audience, consider reading out loud, pausing to discuss elements.

Explain that this passage begins with the start of the ministry Jesus had on Earth. This happened when Jesus was about thirty, and His work carried out words spoken by prophets centuries before.

Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,

    the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—

16 the people dwelling in darkness

    have seen a great light,

and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,

    on them a light has dawned.” -Matthew 4:12-16

Ask: Who do you think of as a very famous person? What would you do if that famous person suddenly showed up?

Remind students that Jesus had been long-awaited and was the Messiah who had been promised and predicted long before. For many years people knew that God promised to send a savior, and Jesus came to fulfill that covenant. Jesus went throughout the area preaching and teaching, and inviting people to follow Him.

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  -Matthew 4:17-19

Jesus knew who His followers would be. When He saw Simon Peter and Andrew, it was easy to call them and offer them the promise of discipleship. These men were nothing particularly special, just plain humble fishermen. But God had chosen them to build His kingdom. We might not think there’s much in our lives that makes us special, but God calls and chooses us to follow Him, too. We can be His disciples and learn through His word and Life.

Ask: What do you think it means to be fishers of men? What would you do if Jesus offered this to you?

Jesus wanted to offer a new opportunity to these fishermen. In order to serve Him, they would have to leave the careers they knew and had dedicated themselves to. However, they’d receive a new task of “fishing” for people: bringing others into God’s family and spreading the Gospel to all who could hear. What do you think they did? 

Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

-Matthew 4:20-23

When the disciples were called, they immediately followed. They left their jobs right away and went to work with Jesus. It can be hard to change things in our lives. It’s tough to make sacrifices or change our habits, hobbies, and usual routines. But it’s worth it when it comes to getting something greater. The disciples took a risk to follow Jesus, but it was certainly a worthwhile one! They received new jobs and new roles as fishers of men, following Christ and serving others.

Ask: What would you give up in order to do something you loved? What would you be willing to give up to follow Jesus?

Jesus calls us to be fishers of men and followers of Him. We don’t always know what this means for us, but we can be certain that it’s worth it because of all that He does for us. No matter who we are or what we do, we can do it for the Lord and know that He blesses us and cares for us!   

Pray: Thank God for giving us Jesus. Ask for His help in following Christ and making disciples, even when it is difficult to do.              

Sunday School Craft Activities

2 thoughts on “Matthew 4:12-23 Sunday School Lesson on Jesus Calling Disciples Fishers of Men”

Leave a Comment