Going Fishing With Jesus
One of my favorite memories from childhood is where my father and some friends would rent a charter fishing boat in Florida. We would leave early in the morning, way before daylight, and go to the deep waters. As a young boy, my imagination would run wild about what was under the boat in the hundreds of feet of dark ocean water.
I loved the ocean spray, I loved the feeling of riding in the boat, I loved looking over the side and watching fish and sometimes dolphins swim beside the boat – but I especially loved being there with my Father. There were times when I would turn green, or get knocked about in rough waters – but my dad was always there to smile and give me assurance that everything was fine.
He showed me how to put a lure on the line, how to bait the hook, where to throw the line. And there were times when the water was a smooth as glass, and times when there were 3-4’ waves. There were times when we caught nothing, and times when we caught our limit, but all the while – my dad and I were together. There was nothing like going fishing with my dad.
This morning we are going to look at where our heavenly Father says, “Let’s go fishing!” Guys, life is too short not to go fishing with your dad. There is nothing like it. Our Heavenly Father shows all we need to know about fishing in His fishing guide (the Bible) and He instills within us the ability to catch fish after fish, after fish.
Prayer – Father, thank you for loving us enough to make us apart of your plan to redeem all of creation back to you. You want us to go fishing with you, thank you for taking us along for the ride. Give us the boldness, to put our fishing rods and hooks in the water. Let us catch our limit, make us into Fishers of Men.
Dropping Your Nets – Leaving the World Behind
Matthew 4:18-22 “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. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
Jesus sets up his preaching ministry in the area of Capernaum. John 1:35-40 tells us that Simon Peter, and Andrew his brother had already met Jesus, followed him to where he was staying, and heard John the Baptist indicate that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Also, we see that the brothers were not satisfied with the fishing nets, “their livelihood was not their life.”
They were looking for something more. John 1:40-42 “One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus.”
“These men craved wilder seas.” One commentator says that the men are “homesick at home, and strangers under the sun” There is a discontent that rumbles around within all of us, and we ask. “Is this all there is in life?” Where is true purpose, and adventure?
Jesus then goes on to talk to another pair of brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee – who is in the boat with them. Matthew’s emphasis in both sets of brothers is immediacy and decisiveness.
When Jesus Christ called four fishermen from Galilee to follow him, they had no idea of the magnitude of where that calling would lead them. They did not know that they would face persecution, prison, and even death for the sake of the gospel of Christ.
They did not realize that they would be the leaders of the infant church that would eventually span the globe and turn the world upside down. They did not realize that they would have a part in the revelation of Holy Scripture. They just knew that Jesus called, so they obeyed.
The same is true of us today. When Jesus calls, and we follow, we do not know what he might be pleased to do in our lives. We do not know where we will serve, or how we will serve, or the cost that following Christ will demand. But when he calls, we obey. They were not attaching themselves to a creed, or a philosophy, or an idea – they were following a person. In Christianity, we are following a person.
This calling took them away from their vocation of fishing and required that they give up everything, even leaving a father behind, a successful career behind – in order to follow Christ. What have you dropped, in order to follow Christ? Has being a disciple of Christ cost you anything? Salvation is free, but being a disciple is not – it costs you everything.
There were no promises of wealth, or good health or even a place to live. There is no promise of power or prestige – only a relationship with Christ. To be His disciple.
In the opening chapters of the book of Matthew, you have Jesus’ birth narrative, his interaction with John the Baptist, then His temptation in the wilderness with Satan. From there Jesus begins His public ministry and the first recorded word of Jesus’ once he officially begins his public ministry is “repent.” The word order in the passage is important because it is the order that we are to follow as Jesus’ disciples. Matthew is holding up a mirror to these first disciples and we are to see if our faith reflects theirs.
Repent, Follow, Faith
Repent – We are to turn from our sins before we can follow Christ. Are we constantly, daily, turning from sin and toward our relationship with Christ?
Follow – Following is to leave things behind, fathers, sisters, mothers, careers, fish, boats, nets, income, a disruption of an ordinary life. Then we have to stay close to Jesus, and constantly gauge how close we are to Him.
Faith – he will call us to do things, to forsake things, to try something. Am I doing what I’m commanded to do – be fishers of men?
Pony Express riders were usually lightweight young men, often teenagers. For this reason, an 1860 Pony Express advertisement in California read: “Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” This ad had an overwhelming turnout of people wanting to ride for the Pony Express. Why? People wanted to be apart of something worthy of risking death daily.
Most of the time church ads go something like – “Come join us for healing, comfort, and a pleasant worship experience.” And once they are there at the church we say “Enjoy the coffee, the show, and a message of inspiration. “Don’t give, go about your lives as normal and we’ll see you again next week if that’s convenient for your schedule.”
Delivering An Eternal Message – Repentance
Notice what Jesus is preaching, Mathew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The word repentance means a change in the mind and action of a person regarding sin. They think differently about sin than before – they act differently than they did before.
Repent means to turn 180 degrees, and go the other direction. In order to follow Christ there must be a change in our lives. For these disciples they dropped their nets and followed.
Repentance also allows us to see the world differently – we see sin differently, yes, but we also begin to see the world as Christ sees the world. When Jesus sees their net, he thinks capturing people. Jesus loves people and is always thinking of how to save them – If there was talk of a harvest, he spoke of a human harvest (John 4:35), If they were talking about a well, then he talked about “living water” (John 4:10). Where other people saw buildings, laws, battles, Jesus was always thinking about his brothers and sisters. To be a fisher of men, is to have the mind of Christ – to think of how others may be saved.
It says “is near” – what’s near, what’s about to happen? The kingdom of heaven is stepping into human history in a way that it never has before – so much so, that it announces and begins a new epoch in human history. We must turn from our sin, because if we don’t we will miss a God who stepped into human history.
He is providing through Jesus the promise of salvation. These disciples are promised nothing but salvation, and a commission to show others how to have this salvation.
Two men get on a plane, one man is given a parachute and promised that the parachute will make his flight more comfortable. He puts it on and as he makes his way down the center aisle, people begin to snicker at him. When he sits down it is very uncomfortable, and he can’t even put his tray table down. People continue to look at him, and after a while he takes it off and puts in under the seat, hoping that people will forget he even had it on.
Another man gets on the plane, but he is given the parachute and information that the plane is going to crash before they reach their destination. He still hears the snickers, endures being uncomfortable from sitting on it, and he clutches the pull pin tightly.
He could care less about what people thought about him or the parachute – because when the plane goes down, he would be safe. Salvation is not about our lives getting easier, or joyous – it is about not going to hell. Is the parachute enough? It is when you realize that it will save you from death. What if you had an extra parachute – would you give it to anyone? Would you ask if anyone wanted it?
Jesus’ preaching is summarized in this one sentence “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Turn from your sin, or you will miss the only way to have eternal life – you will miss the only person on the plane who is handing out parachutes.
Discovering the Depth of Discipleship – Everything
“Immediately they left their nets” and “Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him” These were fishermen who would have reeked from being out all-night fishing, hauling the fish in, and cleaning them.
They are mending nets. Jesus did not ask them to go home and get cleaned up, he did not tell them to go home and say goodbye, He did not tell them to change in any way than they were right that moment – stinky and tired. “Follow me”
This is a command, not a request. Jesus does not say, “Please consider being my disciple in your spare time and when you get a chance, please come by and see, perhaps when you are finished with your work here we can talk.” – no, God in the flesh looked these men in the eye and said “I have a plan for your life, let’s go – right now.” There was a sense of urgency.
Jesus said “Follow Me” – It was a call to relationship, to know him as Redeemer and Lord. It was a call to learn of him, to listen to what he taught, to observe the details of his life, to receive rebuke and instruction from him.
It was a call to evaluate the darkness and sinfulness of their own hearts in light of the purity and holiness of Christ’s. It was a call to love Christ more than any earthly treasure, to find him as the pearl of great price that consumes the mind, the hidden treasure that one sells all that he has to buy (Matt 13:44-46). It was a call to walk with Christ, talk with him, and if need be, die for him. To Follow Christ – would cost them all that they had, even their lives.
Later while they are discussing salvation, and the future, Peter says in Matthew 19:27 “See, we have left everythingand followed you. What then will we have?”
Those that Jesus calls to be His disciples, he says “I will make you fishers of men.” You can not teach yourself to become a fisher of men. Jesus alone will make you one. This requires a dependence upon Him, and a growing relationship.
Just as Jesus called fishermen who gather fish from the sea, so disciple’s of Christ would gather men, women and children to radical obedience in Christ. Walking away from everything in order to be a disciple.
Jesus explains this radical obedience in Luke 14:25-30 “Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” Consider what it costs and what is required of a follower of Christ – you will be fishers of men.
The call of Christ is the same today. It is not that we quit our jobs or leave our families to pursue gospel ministry. While He does call men and families to do this — Instead wherever the Lord places us we are to fish for men.
Spurgeon comments, “The winds of providence will waft you where you can fish for men” [MTP, vol. 32, 344]. God moves upon our lives, placing us in strategic locations and settings so that we might, as followers of Christ, become fishers of men.
If you were to drive up to your home, knowing that your family was trapped in the roaring flames inside. Then you look and you see the large red fire engine, with all the fire fighting apparatus, ladders, axes, hose, gauges, and picks, etc.. and the firemen were feverishly shining the chrome, washing the tires, and neatly folding the firefighter jackets. Some were even huddled in the cab complaining at how cold it was outside. What would you think about this fire fighting unit? Fire fighters fight fires!
Disciples of Christ “will be” fishers of men no matter wherever your’ fishing hole may be.
I think that it is interesting that these men are fishermen and when Jesus comes to call them to discipleship, they are doing what fishermen do, they were beside the shore, they were casting nets, mending nests, they were in a boat. When Jesus comes to collect us to heaven, let him find us doing what Christians do being fishers – fishing for men.
One of the most powerful outreach tools that our Father has given us is prayer. We are on day 21 on our 40 Days of Prayer Challenge– Begin to pray and focus on who you can invite for August 15th. And re-read today’s passage again and again until you understand that you are a “fisher of men.”
The other night I was watching how Navy Seal train new recruits. The training itself is grueling and painful. Only a few make it through the whole process. One of the ways they train is to take a rubber boat fill it with water and require that six men to eight men hold it above their heads. Eventually there will be one guy, because he is tired, who will not really push as hard as he can, expecting the other guys to hold their weight, plus his weight. In the church there are many people who are expecting others to hold the weight. Don’t be “that guy.” Let’s go fishing with out Father.
This morning if you have never received Christ, He is calling you to Him just as you are. There is absolutely no need to clean yourself up – just follow Him. Lay your life down and follow Him. But consider that that you must give up the sin, repent, and follow Him with a radical obedience.
“Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that You died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins, I now invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as Lord and Savior.” In Jesus’ Name.
 John A Broadus, An American Commentary of the New Testament, Matthew (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Judson Press, 1886) 75.
 Craig Blomberg, The New American Commentary, Matthew (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Publishing, 1992) 90.
 Halford Luccock, The Interpreter’s Bible, Matthew (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1980) 276.
 Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew, All Authority in Heaven and on Earth (Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway Publishing, 2013), 95.
 Luccock, 277.
 In the Old Testament the concept of fishers of men has a judgmental tone, such as in Jeremiah 16:16 “Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the LORD, and they shall catch them.” Luccock