“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Matthew 4:18-20 (NKJV)
I enjoy fishing. When we lived in northern Ohio, in close proximity to a beautiful, wide river, my husband and I spent many Sunday afternoons just sitting on the riverbank, with our poles in the water, and a picnic lunch by our side. We spent lazy hours enjoying the beautiful park the river ran through, the awesome hugeness of the river, and each other’s company. It was during this time that I realized how much I loved the process of fishing (minus the part of putting the worm on the hook, of course, or of taking the hook out of the poor fishy’s lip.) But I really did enjoy the catch, and then the release of my prize back into the river.
The appeal of fishing is sometimes out of necessity. Many people fish to supplement their food supply. Others fish for the reason we did–the enjoyment of nature and companionship, and for that quiet peacefulness that overcomes one who sits quietly, waiting for the tug signaling their reward. But there is another reason one might choose to fish–to do God’s work.
How is fishing God’s work? Jesus teaches us the importance of fishing for men. Jesus often used verbal illustrations to make His point. And He wisely chose this one: that we can be fishers of men rather than of fish, and with that comes wonderful rewards for His kingdom.
We use bait and special equipment to catch fish. When we reach out to a person to share the message of Christ, we also use bait, which is the truth of the Gospel, and the special equipment we use is the Word of God. As we share, we capture the person’s attention to the extent that they appear to be on a line, being reeled in for the catch. However, there is a difference. When a fish is reeled in, it often results in death. But when a man or woman is reeled in, there is LIFE!
If we are to be the disciples that Jesus has commanded us to be, then we must learn to fish. And once we have, then we need to be fishers of men, sharing the Gospel of Christ with them, and showing them the pathway to forgiveness of sin and eternal life. There is one more lesson to be taught about fishing, and that is to teach the fish we catch how to fish themselves. That way, they may share what they have gained in Christ with those who are not yet caught.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
“Fishing” for men can be a daunting task. How do you prepare yourself to have the courage and boldness to share Christ with those who do not know Him?