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Matthew 4:20

King James Version (KJV)
Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Straightway - Immediately - as all should do when the Lord Jesus calls them.

Left their nets - Their nets were the means of their living, perhaps all their property. By leaving them immediately, and following him, they gave every evidence of sincerity. They showed, what we should, that they were willing to forsake all for the sake of Jesus, and to follow him wherever he should lead them. They went forth to persecution and death for his sake; but also to the honor of saving souls from death, and establishing a church that shall continue to the end of time. Little did they know what awaited them when they left their unmended nets to rot on the beach, and followed the unknown and unhonored Jesus of Nazareth. So we know not what awaits us when we become his followers; but we should cheerfully go when our Saviour calls, willing to commit all into his hands - come honor or dishonor, sickness or health, riches or poverty, life or death. Be it ours to do our duty at once, and to commit the result to the great Redeemer who has called us. Compare Matthew 6:33; Matthew 8:21-22; John 21:21-22.

Follow him - This is an expression denoting that they became his disciples, 2 Kings 6:19.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
When Christ began to preach, he began to gather disciples, who should be hearers, and afterwards preachers of his doctrine, who should be witnesses of his miracles, and afterwards testify concerning them. He went not to Herod's court, not to Jerusalem, among the chief priests and the elders, but to the sea of Galilee, among the fishermen. The same power which called Peter and Andrew, could have wrought upon Annas and Caiaphas, for with God nothing is impossible. But Christ chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Diligence in an honest calling is pleasing to Christ, and it is no hinderance to a holy life. Idle people are more open to the temptations of Satan than to the calls of God. It is a happy and hopeful thing to see children careful of their parents, and dutiful. When Christ comes, it is good to be found doing. Am I in Christ? is a very needful question to ask ourselves; and, next to that, Am I in my calling? They had followed Christ before, as common disciples, Joh 1:37; now they must leave their calling. Those who would follow Christ aright, must, at his command, leave all things to follow him, must be ready to part with them. This instance of the power of the Lord Jesus encourages us to depend upon his grace. He speaks, and it is done.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

They straightway left their nets - A change, as far as it respected secular things, every way to their disadvantage. The proud and the profane may exult and say, "Such preachers as these cannot be much injured by their sacrifices of secular property - they have nothing but nets, etc., to leave." Let such carpers at the institution of Christ know, that he who has nothing but a net, and leaves that for the sake of doing good to the souls of men, leaves his All: besides, he lived comfortably by his net before; but, in becoming the servant of all for Christ's sake, he often exposes himself to the want of even a morsel of bread. See on Matthew 19:27; (note).

Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 25

Christ came to this world to show that by receiving power from on high, man can live an unsullied life. With unwearying patience and sympathetic helpfulness He met men in their necessities. By the gentle touch of grace He banished from the soul unrest and doubt, changing enmity to love, and unbelief to confidence. MH 25.1

He could say to whom He pleased, “Follow Me,” and the one addressed arose and followed Him. The spell of the world's enchantment was broken. At the sound of His voice the spirit of greed and ambition fled from the heart, and men arose, emancipated, to follow the Saviour. MH 25.2

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Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 24

“Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him. And going on from thence, He saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.” [Matthew 4:18-22.] GW 24.1

The prompt, unquestioning obedience of these men, with no promise of wages, seems remarkable; but the words of Christ were an invitation that carried with it an impelling power. Christ would make these humble fishermen, in connection with Himself, the means of taking men out of the service of Satan, and placing them in the service of God. In this work they would become his witnesses, bearing to the world His truth unmingled with the traditions and sophistries of men. By practicing His virtues, by walking and working with Him, they were to be qualified to be fishers of men. GW 24.2

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 810

The evening was pleasant, and Peter, who still had much of his old love for boats and fishing, proposed that they should go out upon the sea and cast their nets. In this plan all were ready to join; they were in need of food and clothing, which the proceeds of a successful night's fishing would supply. So they went out in their boat, but they caught nothing. All night they toiled, without success. Through the weary hours they talked of their absent Lord, and recalled the wonderful events they had witnessed in His ministry beside the sea. They questioned as to their own future, and grew sad at the prospect before them. DA 810.1

All the while a lone watcher upon the shore followed them with His eye, while He Himself was unseen. At length the morning dawned. The boat was but a little way from the shore, and the disciples saw a stranger standing upon the beach, who accosted them with the question, “Children, have ye any meat?” When they answered, “No,” “He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” DA 810.2

John recognized the stranger, and exclaimed to Peter, “It is the Lord.” Peter was so elated and so glad that in his eagerness he cast himself into the water and was soon standing by the side of his Master. The other disciples came in their boat, dragging the net with fishes. “As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.” DA 810.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 318

To those who are attending school that they may learn how to do the work of God more perfectly, I would say: Remember that it is only by a daily consecration to God that you can become soul winners. There have been those who were unable to go to school because they were too poor to pay their way. But when they became sons and daughters of God they took hold of the work where they were, laboring for those around them. Though destitute of the knowledge obtained in school, they consecrated themselves to God, and God worked through them. Like the disciples when called from their nets to follow Christ, they learned precious lessons from the Saviour. They linked themselves with the Great Teacher, and the knowledge they gained from the Scriptures qualified them to speak to others of Christ. Thus they became truly wise, because they were not too wise in their own estimation to receive instruction from above. The renewing power of the Holy Spirit gave them practical, saving energy. 6T 318.1

The knowledge of the most learned man, if he has not learned in Christ's school, is foolishness so far as leading souls to Christ is concerned. God can work with those only who will accept the invitation: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30. 6T 318.2

By many of our canvassers there has been a departure from right principles. Through a desire to reap worldly advantage their minds have been drawn away from the real purpose and spirit of the work. Let none think that display will make a right impression upon the people. This will not secure the best or most permanent results. Our work is to direct minds to the solemn truths for this time. It is only when our own hearts are imbued with the spirit of the truths contained in the book we are selling, and when in humility we call the attention of the people to these truths, that real success will attend our efforts; for it is only then that the Holy Spirit, who convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, will be present to impress hearts. 6T 318.3

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Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 479

Christ in His life on earth made no plans for Himself. He accepted God's plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will. As we commit our ways to Him, He will direct our steps. MH 479.1

Too many, in planning for a brilliant future, make an utter failure. Let God plan for you. As a little child, trust to the guidance of Him who will “keep the feet of His saints.” 1 Samuel 2:9. God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him. MH 479.2

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