Fishers of Men
“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” Matthew 4:18-19
In this passage (Matthew 4:18-22) Jesus calls out three of His nearest disciples: Peter, James, and John. He calls them away from their life work of fishing, and instead calls them to be “fishers of men.” Jesus calls them to take up a new work and direct their energies toward a different end. He calls for them to leave behind business as usual. I’m not a great fisherman by any stretch, but I’ve done enough to understand why Jesus compares the seeking of lost souls to fishing.
First, fishing requires patience and dedication. Catching good fish isn’t easy. It takes time. Often, it involves waking up early or staying up late into the night. It’s not about what time is convenient for the fisherman, but what time the fish are active. Sometimes your line gets stuck in the tree. Sometimes it gets stuck on the bottom. Many times you’ll do everything you know how to do, stay out for hours and hours, and come home with nothing.
Second, fishing requires skill and lures. There’s a fishing store I go past every summer on the way to the beach. It’s a huge place with every lure imaginable. There are salt water lures, fresh water lures, trolling lures, and deep water lures. They’re all employed in different ways for different fish in different places, but the fisherman must have the knowledge and skill to select and use the right lure. Some fly fishermen will make their own lures out of available material appropriate to the situation.
Third, is the thrill of the catch! After all the preparation and patience, there are few things as thrilling as pulling in a big fish. Getting a fish on the hook only begins the fight to get it in the boat! Pulling in a big fish that you know will result in a delicious meal is ultimately why people spend all the time and effort to go fishing.
It’s not an accident or coincidence that Jesus compared fishing to the labor of seeking after the souls of lost people. Seeking after the lost requires dedication and patience. It will require early mornings and late nights. Patience to care and listen to people’s struggles, dedication to continue intentionally engaging people with the gospel, and late nights counseling and answering tough questions. But all this is done from a motivation, not of duty, but of love for the lost.
Seeking lost souls is also a process that requires skill. Sincerity is vital, but not enough by itself. We need knowledge and skill to answer real and deeply meaningful questions about God. We need wisdom to discern right from wrong. We need clarity of speech to explain difficult spiritual realities with plain simplicity.
Lastly, there is unmatched joy of being a part of seeing someone come to believe in Jesus as their Savior! There is absolutely nothing more thrilling than seeing the work of God upon someone’s heart to bring life out of death! There’s joy in seeing despair changed to hope, addiction broken, and the desires of the flesh transformed. This does not usually happen with just a few conversations. It can take years of engaging someone with Gospel conversations before the Lord opens their heart and by mercy causes them to be born again (1 Peter 1:3).
Have you obeyed the call of Jesus to be a fisher of men? Do you seek after the souls of lost people like a skilled and persevering fisherman? When was the last time you directly spoke with someone about the state of their soul? Have you ever experienced the immense joy of leading another person to salvation? Let’s take seriously the call of Jesus and make disciples of all nations. Let’s be fishers of men!
May Jesus burden us for lost souls,