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Fisher’s of Men

June 14, 2012

“”And he saith unto them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’…” (Matt. 4:19)

Simon Bar-Jonah, who would become the apostle Peter, and his brother Andrew were natives of the town of Bethsaida, but had come to Capernaum to work their fishing boat in the Sea of Galilee. From what we can tell from the Gospels, the two were business partners with another set of brothers, James and John, and their father Zebedee. It was apparently a successful business, as they could afford the luxury of servants; and John, at least, had more than one home: one in Capernaum, with another house in Jerusalem as well.

So, these men were men of affluence: men who worked hard but were rewarded well for that work. Many could argue that there really isn’t much more to life than to make a living. Yet Christ proved otherwise: because despite their privileged lifestyles, and being the Godly Jews they might have been, these men had so much more to do with their lives than a profitable fishing business on the Sea of Galilee.

And they must have realized this, for when Christ came and called for them, they answered without hesitation: “And he saith unto them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” (Matt. 4:19-20)

Because these men were more than just disciples, men who followed the Lord around and sat at His feet while He taught…they were to become apostles: messengers, preachers, miracle workers, and the future foundation of the church. They left behind their mundane – if successful – lives to became fishers of men, seeking the lost sheep, expanding the Kingdom, and praising our Lord wherever they went.

The 5th chapter of Luke goes into more detail then the preceding Gospels: it tells the story of how Christ, after teaching the multitudes from Peter’s boat, directed the soon-to-be-disciple to “launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught,” (Luke 5:4). Peter, despite having fished all night without success, did as commanded. It would have seemed strange to the fisherman, since night fishing was the preferred method, as it was in darkness the fish were found in shallower, easier-netted waters; during the daylight, they migrated out to deeper waters that were difficult to fish.

Still, Peter obeyed; and as a result, the haul was so great that it began to break the net, and it took all the partners in their separate boats to pull it in. Peter, Andrew, James and John, all astonished at this miracle, were made disciples then and there. Jesus told them, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men,” (Luke 5:10).

The point of this story is that we, too, as Christians, are fisher’s of men: we, too, are disciples and apostles; we are the future and foundation of our own church. Like the apostles, we have to put our concern with ourselves, our luxuries and privilege, our flesh, and our world, behind our concern for our commission as Christians: our duty to the souls and salvation of others should come before our lives. Some of you might say, “But the disciples were great and holy men; there is no way we could accomplish what they accomplished!” And yet, I say we have more in common with those men than you might think: the apostles also were men, just like us. They had their own failings, their own disreputable pasts: Matthew was a tax collector, a man branded as a traitor by his own people; James and John were nicknamed ‘Boanerges’ (Sons of Thunder) by Christ, probably for their fearsome tempers that we see when reading the Gospels; and Peter…Peter the ‘Rock’, the first disciple…Peter denied Christ Himself. Yet they rose above these failings, transcended them, as Christ knew they would. Living and acting under the Holy Spirit, they became true apostles, true fishers of men; and once again following Christ’s direction on where to drop their nets, they went on to gather such a catch it surely threatened to break the net again.

Yet we – the apostles of this age – look about on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights, and see all the empty spaces in the pews. Where is our great catch?

It occurred to me while reading this passage in Luke, that to be effective fishermen – or fisher’s of men – we must do the same as Peter did: we must look to Christ, and allow Him to direct us where to cast our nets. Sometimes, even though we may be tired of failure, of coming up empty-handed, we might just need to do the unexpected: we may need to look in deeper waters. Either way, though, our success will be measured not by how hard we try, but how well we listen, obey, and believe; we should ask ourselves, do we go where He sends us, or do we strike out on our own?

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then said I, ‘Here am I; send me’,” (Isaiah 6:8). Today, let us strive to hear the voice of the Lord; let us look to cast our nets where Christ sends us. For it is there we, too, will find our great catch; one that will break our nets. And let us remember that, like the disciples that day, it will take all the partners, all the church, to pull it in. If we but work together, forsaking our own comfort and wants for the needs of the Kingdom, seeking guidance and strength in the Spirit, then I firmly believe that we, too, will become successful fishers of men.

Be blessed,

Joshua

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One Comment
  1. Diana permalink

    Finding the fish at night seems easy enough. Bars, clubs, alley’s, etc. because that’s where the lost may be found. But to find a lost soul in day light is a little more harder to reach. Some may be saved, but hurt or offended. Or, just need direction. Or, never heard of Jesus. Either way, if you’re a fisher of men it’s a great catch. Pray up first and be prepared to share. Folks need Jesus everywhere…good study.

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