One of the things that I believe that should be an active part of our discipleship in following Jesus Christ is to seek to use the opportunities that God gives us to be a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. In Matthew 4 we read these words: “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me”, Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men”. At once they left their nets and followed him”, (v.18-20 NIV). The Sea of Galilee was one of the premier geographical features of Jesus’s ministry. Many of His miracles took place on the Sea of Galilee or around the Sea of Galilee. During Jesus’ lifetime there was a thriving fishing industry in this lake. The Sea of Galilee is really not a sea as much as it was a large lake. Today it is 7 miles wide and 13 miles long. When we were at the Sea of Galilee in 2011 we were told that the Sea was losing 3 feet of depth every year. But in Jesus’s day the sea was filled with fish and fishermen. In fact, at least probably seven of Jesus’ apostles were fishermen. Jesus uses the analogy of making Peter and Andrew, and later in the passage James and John, fishers of men. They would’ve have clearly understood the implications of Jesus’s words when He challenged them to follow Him and become fishers of men.
There are a lot of parallels between fishing for fish and fishing for people. Surely the good qualities of a successful fisherman would make for success in the difficult ministry of fishing for souls. To be a fisherman by trade you have to have a certain level of courage as you will be going out on the sea in many difficult circumstances. Also to have a successful fishing business you must also be willing to work with other people. No fishermen can build a great fishing empire if he just fishes by himself. You must work with other people and at times be willing to surrender your own rights for the good of the endeavor. The same thing is true in ministry. All the things that are required to be a successful fisherman – patience, energy, stamina, faith and tenacity are also very helpful in fishing for souls. Professional fishermen simply cannot afford to be quitters or complainers nor is that helpful in fishing for souls. Fishermen take great pains and expose themselves to great danger as do those who are ministering to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ. When fishermen don’t catch fish for a couple days they can become easily discouraged or defeated. This is part of the reason that somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 pastors a month are leaving the ministry, most never to return. These are difficult days of ministry and yet Jesus Christ has called us to be fishers of people.
But I don’t believe that is just the responsibility of the pastor or church leaders. I think fishing for people is part of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is in the process of molding and shaping us into it the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a process of growing in our understanding and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ that as we follow Him as disciples He impacts our lives more and more. These four fishermen who are mentioned in this passage would go on to be used mightily in the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ to turn the world upside down. But they were not the most brilliant scholars of the day nor were they wealthy from a financial standpoint. They were hard laborers and yet Jesus chooses to use weak and flawed individuals to declare the splendors of His Majesty. So you and I have been called to be fishers of people. We need to be looking at the people around us as the first place to begin our fishing. So I must ask you, “where are you casting your nets?” Know that wherever you may work, wherever you may play, wherever you may live, wherever you may exercise or shop Jesus wants you to be a fisher of people. That means having a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ and allowing His Holy Spirit to direct your path. But it also means understanding the needs of those around you so you can apply the gospel message to those needs. So, let’s go fishing together.
All praise to our great Savior,
Pastor Rich Sivo