March 1, 2018
And 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 (Matthew 4:18-20).
Imagine with me that you are in Galilee and you are a fisherman by trade. You are Jewish and know the Old Testament very well, likely having committed most or even all of it to memory. From your studies, you know that God is going to send a Savior into the world, and you know from reading the Old Testament prophets that He will be showing up someday soon.
You’re spending yet another day on the shores by the Sea of Galilee, and you are tossing your net into the sea, again hoping for a good catch. Then, you have an unexpected encounter – you meet the Messiah face-to-face. He walks up to where you are fishing, and what He asks you to do next will change your life forever.
Jesus’s words were few and to the point: Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. Simple, easy to understand words, but profound. It’s these words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that I want to look at in more detail.
Follow me. It didn’t take Jesus but a second to say these two words. Isn’t the same true today? Before Jesus changed my life, I was a sinner, and I knew it. Even worse, I liked and enjoyed my sins. But one day something changed, and my heart of stone was replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). What others had tried to change with the law was changed from within the heart. How exactly did it happen? It’s not something you can explain to just anyone; each person must have experienced the same spiritual transformation for themselves.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Follow me. I’m certain that if you were Peter and Andrew, the last place you would have expected to see Jesus was at your workplace. They were perhaps thinking of someday going and searching for the Messiah, but they certainly didn’t expect to have the Messiah come and find them! That is how He works, though – He reaches out to us and asks us to follow Him while we are yet sinners.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Follow me. Jesus could have told Peter and Andrew to first go and put on clean Sunday clothing. After all, if they were going to follow the Messiah, shouldn’t they be dressed up like a Jewish rabbi (the spiritual leaders of the day)? He could have first asked them to confess all their sins and make everything right with God before following Him. There is, of course, a time and place in which we are to confess sins to God and to those against whom we have sinned, but Jesus didn’t require any of that – He simply asked Peter and Andrew to follow Him. He certainly didn’t tell them to go join a certain group or to go follow some other men. No. When He calls us, He simply expects us to drop our old ways of life and follow Him.
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21).
And I will make you fishers of men. There is something that stands out to me about how Jesus taught His disciples. He didn’t say, “Keep fishing for now, and then on Sunday I will tell you how to be like Me.” Jesus also didn’t say, “Watch Me, and you will learn how to be like Me.” Of course, Jesus did teach by example, but He also taught His disciples and the multitudes verbally and on the spot. What if today, instead of expecting people to guess why we do what we do, we used words as gracious as the words of Jesus, freely and lovingly talking with our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about the things of the Lord?
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel [good news] to every creature (Mark 16:15).
And I will make you fishers of men. Jesus said plainly that He’d be the one turning the disciples into fishers of men. I’m convinced, from reading the Bible and from personal experience, that we can’t do anything good of ourselves. But if Jesus “makes us” into the good thing He desires us to be, then we can do all things, because He’s the one doing it in and through us rather than us trying to do it in our own strength.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13).
And I will make you fishers of men. When reading the Gospels (the first four books in the New Testament), I see in many different ways the love Jesus had for His disciples and for the multitudes of people to whom He ministered. He was always truthful, but He was also very patient. He had high expectations, but he also allowed His disciples to make mistakes as they learned.
Mothers, read the Gospels and learn from Jesus about how to gently and lovingly nurture your little disciples in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. Fathers, make sure your children know you love them and will have patience with them as they make mistakes and learn how to cope with life.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).
We’ve hardly begun to scratch the surface of the words of Jesus in this short passage. There is, however, one thing I know: the same Jesus Christ who was walking by the Sea of Galilee 2,000 years ago is still calling men and women everywhere to follow Him today. Not only is He asking us to follow Him, but He is also wanting to transform us from being fishers of fish to being fishers of men.
As we forsake our nets, whatever our earthly “nets” may be, let us instead follow Jesus. He will teach us how to do something of much greater value, not because we have done anything to earn this special attention from Him, but because He has commanded us to follow Him. As we submit to Him alone, He will follow through with His promise to make us fruitful laborers in His vineyard.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
— Jeremiah Zeiset, Abbotsford, Wisconsin
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