It was after a quick fishing trip that Jesus called his first disciples to come and follow him. Luke records the event in chapter five of his gospel.
People were crowding around Jesus as he taught the word of God, so he got into a fishing boat belonging to Simon and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Jesus taught the people from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, Jesus told Simon to put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch. Simon replied that they had worked hard all night and hadn’t caught anything, but since Jesus said so, he would give it a try.
When they did what Jesus said to do, they caught so many fish that their nets began to break and the boats were so full that they began to sink! Simon Peter and his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken.
Then Jesus issued his famous invitation. Luke 5:10-11 says, “’…Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”
This episode teaches us some truths about fishing for people.
First, we work together. Many times we think that fishing for people is like just one person standing on the bank with a single fishing pole. That’s not the kind of fishing they were doing in the Bible. They had several people working together to cast nets to catch fish. I think that we can better understand the proper way to fish for people if we remember that we are supposed to work together.
I recently helped lead a man to Christ, but others had witnessed to him before I did. He was ready to make the decision by the time I met him. I told some of his family members that I felt like a relief pitcher that was called in to finish the baseball game with a 15 run lead, two outs in the last inning and two strikes on the batter! It was a simple thing for me to close the deal because others had already been talking to him about Jesus and praying for him to make a decision.
Secondly, we don’t give up just because we haven’t had any luck lately. In obedience to Jesus we continue to fish. Because he says so, we keep witnessing and inviting people to church. Even if we are in the middle of a long dry spell, with no results for our efforts, we keep fishing together, simply because Jesus says to do so.
Finally, we should be prepared to be astonished at the results. When the Spirit moves, people tend to come to Jesus in large numbers. Families often decide together to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. We shouldn’t be surprised when many people at one time decide to believe the best news ever—the good news of the salvation that is available through the crucified and resurrected Jesus!
John 21 records another miraculous fishing expedition. Some of the disciples had decided to go fishing. They fished all night, but caught nothing. The resurrected Jesus called out to them from the shore and told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
With this miracle, Jesus reminded his followers of their initial calling and of their primary purpose—to fish for people.
Perhaps you need to be reminded of your mission—to catch people! Those who are called to follow Jesus are called to fish for other followers. Let’s get busy!