Complete-A-Project Bible Search: Following Jesus

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by Marian O’Brien, MTh

This Complete-A-Project Bible Search is based on Matthew 4:12-23. It can be used with learners across a broad age range.


* This Gospel deals with the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

* These verses have three main purposes: 1) to convey that Jesus is the Messiah who was foretold by the prophet Isaiah (verses 14 through 16 are condensed from Isaiah 8:23-29); 2) to announce that Jesus’ ministry will include the teaching that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (verse 17); and 3) to call others to be his disciples. The third purpose is the focus of this lesson.

* A disciple is a person who is a pupil of and a believer in the teachings and principles of another. To be a disciple is to be a student first and then, eventually, a teacher.

* In verses 18-23, Jesus calls his first disciples. His invitation is clear: He wants people to follow him, to become part of a community with him. Because he is addressing fishermen, Jesus uses a fishing example to help them understand why he wants them to follow him. Jesus transforms them from fishers of fish to fishers of people.

* What Jesus asks his disciples to do is difficult. He knows that the only way his new disciples will truly understand the Kingdom of Heaven is to spend a lot of time with him. They must immerse their lives in him; they must learn by observing his example.

* Verse 23 gives an example of what the disciples immediately observe by following Jesus: He teaches in the synagogues and proclaims the gospel (the word gospel means “good news”) of the kingdom. However, Jesus does more than just preach and teach. He heals the sick. This also is an important lesson for the disciples, for they, too, are to serve those who are poor, outcast, and sick.

* Despite the fact that the disciples drop everything to follow Jesus, this Gospel reading does not encourage blind faith and unquestioned obedience. Rather, it conveys the idea that an effective disciple must know Jesus well and understand his teachings. For us today, that means being involved with a faith community and learning about Jesus through knowledge of Scripture and by cultivating an active relationship with him through prayer.


* Copies of the activity sheet [CLICK HERE]

* Bibles (The Search is based on the New American Bible.)

* Pencils or pens


1. Jesus used a very effective method to train people to be his disciples: his word and his example. In this lesson, stress to students what we must do if we are to learn how to follow Jesus as his disciples.

2. Have a student read Matthew 4:12-23.

3. Share the Background information with your students. Some of the questions on the activity sheet will be based on this material.

4. Have a student read aloud the far left-hand panel and the far right-hand panel on the activity page.

5. Discuss discipleship:

* Nick has learned a lot about how engines work by paying attention to his dad. He later fixes engines by himself under his dad’s supervision. Has anyone had similar experiences of learning by doing? (Examples: learning how to cook from a grandparent; learning to play basketball from a friend). How is this different from learning by reading directions?

* Nick’s dad says that it is important to live what we learn about our faith. How does being involved with your parish help you live what you learn about your Catholic faith? (Perhaps some students are involved in ministry in the parish such as being altar servers or participating in food drives.)

* Nick’s dad says that we must be serious about getting to know Jesus through prayer. Why is prayer important? (We get to know people better when we have conversations with them. Prayer is a conversation with God.) How do you rely on prayer to help you be a better disciple?

* This Gospel refers to the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. One of the first things he did was to invite some fishermen to join him, to follow him, to be his disciples. He told them that he will make them fishers of people. What do you think Jesus meant by saying he would make them fishers of people?

6. Have students open their Bibles to Matthew 28:19-20. Ask someone to read the passage aloud. Explain that this passage takes place nearly three years after the event in the Gospel we are examining today. Jesus had been crucified and resurrected from the dead. Explain that Jesus had prepared his disciples for this very moment. For three years he showed them how to be disciples.  Now that Jesus is about to ascend to heaven, it is their turn to “make disciples of all nations.”

7. Have students close their Bibles, answer the questions on the activity sheet, and compare their answers to the key. End your discussion by praying the Apostles’ Creed.

© CATECHIST, January 2014. Peter Li, Inc. Dayton, OH  45439

Permission is granted to copy for use with your students and their families.

Copyright 2014, Bayard, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Bayard, Inc.

This article was written by the Catechist Staff and appeared in Catechist magazine, May 2014.

Image Credit: Shutter Stock 6709591

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