“I will make you Fishers of men, fishers of men if you follow me.” I sang that song hundreds of times growing up in the church. It puts to song Luke 5:1-11 when Jesus calls Peter, Andrew, and the Sons of Thunder.
While that song can make this passage seem childish or simple, there is something incredible about what Jesus is telling his first Apostles.
When Jesus calls these men, he begins be seeing who they are. Jesus recognizes that they are tradesmen. He knows what they are good at, but Jesus also knows that they are meant for more than catching fish. Sometimes we may think that what we have or who we are is not good enough for God. Jesus did what Jesus does, he went and met them where they were. He sanctified their occupation and called them to something greater.
After seeing Peter, Andrew, James, and John for who they are, Jesus calls them to leave everything behind. Jesus does not ask them to leave behind fishing because Jesus despises fishing or thinks that fishing is stupid, but because Jesus knows they are aptly trained for the Kingdom of God. Jesus calls them out from the boat, from their families, and from their homes. They are asked to go on an epic with Jesus. We find out- “They left everything and followed him.”
Some wonder why Jesus chose fishermen to be his first apostles. These guys were not necessarily educated or articulate. They had not gone to college or seminary. They we not especially good business people, they worked on boats with fish. They were often dirty and probably smelled of fish. Jesus was recruiting for a global mission, and Jesus chose people who did not fit the world’s view of successful. What they did have though, was something invaluable to following Jesus.
For a time I worked at the Oceanic Restaurant on Wrightsville Beach. They had a pier which jutted out into the Atlantic. People chose to go fishing on that pier almost every day. They rarely caught anything, yet they would attempt to catch fish. We would often hear, “I’m great at fishing, but I’m not good at catching.”
Fishing is a slow sport. When people go fishing, they can do everything right. They can use the proper line and bait at the proper depth. They can use all the charts on fish migration, and they can sometimes even see the fish. But still they come up empty. Peter, Andrew, James and John learned the patience necessary for doing evangelism. The same skills are required fishing people. We can do all the preparation correct, but we may still come up empty. The lack of catching does not stop people from fishing. Nor should our attempts to bring others to Jesus prevent us from being fishers of people.
This all leads me to a series of questions: What about your occupation? Do you do it to God’s glory? Has God gifted you and placed you where you are for something more than a paycheck? How is God calling you to use your gifts? Have you attempted to be a fisher of men in the past without seeing many results? Did you make sure you had the correct tools? Did you cast at the right place? Even if you did everything correct, you still could come up empty. Does that make you stop, or are you willing to be a fisher of men regardless of the cost?