Jesus Transforms “Fish” into “Fishers-of-Men”

matthew419The following abbreviated message, based on Luke 5:1-11 (cf. Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20) was preached by Rev. Dr. Glenn Schaeffer at Evangelfest 2007.

A sign on a barber shop wall says, “The Lord created the world with 6 times more water than land.  Therefore, anybody can see that the good Lord intended man to fish more than he works.” I’m sure the fishermen among us would agree!

In a similar fashion: there are 7 billion people in the world (US Census Bureau).  Of these only about 1 billion people profess to be Christians.  That means there are about 6 times more “lost fish” than “netted fish”!  Therefore, anybody can see that the good Lord intends that before we do anything else that we be fishers-of-men!

When Jesus issued the call to Peter, Andrew, James and John, “Come with me. I’ll make you fishers-of-men!” (Matt. 4:19) our Lord was speaking not only to them, but to you, to me, and to all his followers!      

So, You’re Called to be a Fisher-of-Men!

Do you want to learn something that is absolutely true and remarkable?!  Jesus transforms “fish” into “fishers-of-men”!

We see this transformation take place in the life of Peter, Andrew, James, and John.  For example: at one time in Peter’s life, he was a “lost fish” but at a very early age Peter was circumcised … identified as one of the chosen people of God.  He became a “caught fish”.  Through the years Peter had been taught and had memorized the promises regarding the coming Messiah.  Peter longed to see that day!  After a time his brother Andrew came to him and proclaimed, “We have found the Messiah!” (John 1:41).  Peter went and met with Jesus listening to his teachings.  He witnessed Jesus turning water into wine among other miracles.  Peter was “caught” by the nets of the Good News proclaimed by Jesus. Peter believed that Jesus was the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world. Yes, Peter was a “caught fish”.

In the Lukan account, Jesus says, “Put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch.” (5:4) Luke tells us that “When they had done so they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” (6)  The abundant catch of fish confirmed for Peter the Lordship of Christ.  Peter fell down at Jesus’ feet and said, “Go away from me, Lord I am sinful man!”  (8)  But Jesus responded, “There is nothing to fear. From now on you’ll be fishing for men and women.” Do you see the progression in Peter’s life?  Peter went from being a “lost fish” to being a “caught fish” to being a “fisher-of-men”!

This is our progression too!  We were once “lost fish” who became “caught fish”.  Many of us were caught by “baptismal nets”.  Others of us might have been reading the Word of God when the Spirit of the Lord “caught” us as we read about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Others of us might have been caught by the Lord as a friend shared the good news of Jesus’ love with us for the umpteenth time!  The point being that at one time we were “lost fish” who became “caught fish” … caught by the “nets” of God’s Word.    This reality alone might cause us to echo Peter’s words, “Go away from me! Lord, I am a sinful man! I’m not worthy to be a fish in your boat.” But Jesus doesn’t want us just to be “caught fish”! Our Lord Jesus, who died for us, says to everyone who trusts in him as Saviour, “There is nothing to fear. From now on you’ll be fishers-of-men.”

Do you see the progression?  We went from being a “lost fish” to being a “caught fish” … to being, transformed into a “fisher-of-men”.

Why?  Why would Jesus want to transform caught fish into fishers-of-men?  In Matthew 4, just preceding the call of the disciples to be fishers-of-men, Matthew quotes a prophecy from Isaiah, “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Is. 9:1-2)   In Luke 4:43 (the verse just preceding our text), our Lord Jesus says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

Jesus knew he could not accomplish this task alone!   In order to catch “fish” in other towns, provinces, regions, countries, and even in other, eras, generations, and centuries, he needed to catch “fish” and transform them into fishers-of-men.  In this case, he caught the “fish” named Peter, Andrew, James and John.  He said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19)  These four men left their nets … they got out of their boats … and spent the next two years being trained and equipped by Jesus to be fishers-of-men and then following Pentecost Day their fishing for men began in earnest as they journeyed throughout the Roman Empire fishing for lost men, women, and children.

Our Lord continues to catch lost fish.  Their names are your names because you were once lost fish, but now caught by Christ.  You are the ones to whom Jesus said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers-of-men!”

Part 2 of this message will be posted tomorrow.

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