February 10th 2009

Fishers Of Men And Women

From Luke 5:1-11 The MESSAGE BIBLE
“Once when he was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, the crowd was pushing in on him to better hear the Word of God. He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. He climbed into the boat that was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd.

When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, ‘Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.’

Simon said, ‘Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.’ It was no sooner said than done-a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.

Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. ‘Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.’ When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him. It was the same with James and John, Zebedee’s sons, coworkers with Simon.

Jesus said to Simon, ‘There is nothing to fear. From now on you’ll be fishing for men and women.’ They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed him.”

In the passage above we read of Simon and the sons of Zebedee, James and John, who were partners in a fishing business with two boats on the lake of Gennesaret.

These men and probably their fathers before them were fishermen with many stories about fishing – of catches, and the ones that got away. Jesus was there with many followers who wanted to hear him. The fishermen had fished all the previous night and caught nothing. Jesus taught them all while sitting in a boat a little way out from the shore. After He finished speaking, He said to the fishermen: “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.” They protested that they had fished all night and caught nothing, but because he was telling them, they did it anyway. They were probably from generations of fishermen, highly skilled, taught by their fathers and grandfathers, and if any other carpenter had told them where and when to lower their nets, they wouldn’t have done it. A carpenter would not have known the best time and place to fish!

With the nets soon bulging to breaking point and the two boats sinking under the sheer weight of it, Simon Peter fell to his knees before Jesus. “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.”

This was the ultimate fishing story of all fishy tales! Jesus said to Simon, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass” (Matthew 4:19). I wonder whether they really understood what Jesus was saying. Nevertheless, astonished at the miracle of the great catch and drawn by the magnetism of Christ’s personality, the disciples put down their nets and followed Jesus.

We all have physical ambitions or something we dream of accomplishing which may help us make a living for the sake of our family or children, and that is OK. I don’t think Jesus is calling us to give up our careers. It is a question of priorities and understanding, of putting our calling to follow Jesus first. When God calls us to be fishers of men and women, we have a new challenge, a task in which we need our Father’s help.

Let’s be ready to follow Jesus!

Father, please help us to see that what you have in mind for us is far greater than we could ever imagine and, as you make us into “fishers of men”, give us the right thoughts toward all of our neighbours and all the people in the world, and the zeal and wisdom to know how to help them to honour you.


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