BECOMING FISHERS OF MEN!
One day I woke up “knowing” in my Spirit that I was suppose to investigate “fishing.” I didn’t know why, I just knew that God wanted me to explore this subject in the New Testament. While looking through the Gospels that morning, I quickly came to the following verses:
Jesus said to Simon [Peter], “Put out into the DEEP and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But AT YOUR WORD I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink… For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken… And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” And when they brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:4-11)
What jumped out at me from these verses were Peter’s words, “But AT YOUR WORD I will let down my nets.” Even though Peter and his partners had toiled all night, and had not caught one fish, Peter was willing, at Jesus’s word, to let down his nets one more time. Peter had just met Jesus, but for some reason Peter knew this man was different. For Jesus had just borrowed Peter’s boat in order to preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the people on shore. In his time listening to Jesus preach, Peter must have sensed great power and authority in Jesus’ voice that he had never have heard before. He probably sensed that Jesus knew something that he didn’t. When Peter obeyed Jesus’s instructions to let down their nets the results were incredible. They caught so many fish that two boats could not even hold them all. What took place could only be described as a miraculous catch.
After witnessing this miracle first hand, Scripture tells us that Peter and his partners left everything behind and started following Jesus. In fact, Peter followed in Jesus’s footsteps for the next 3 years straight. During this time, Jesus did indeed teach Peter how to become a “fisher of men.”
When I read these verses in Scripture, I was reminded of when my husband and I went fishing with our neighbor this summer. While out on his boat, Skip showed us how he locates the big fish in the lake by using his sonar equipment. He stated that he could fish blindly, and hope that he catches one, but why do that when you can have the inside scoop on where the fish are before you drop your bait. Knowing that the fish he wants to catch often move to different parts of the lake, Skip uses his latest technology to find out where the fish are currently hanging out before casting his first bait. By using his sonar as a guide, Skip doesn’t have to toil unnecessarily. He knows that when he is fishing over an area where his sonar tells him there are fish, he is almost always guaranteed to catch one.
We see this dynamic played out in Scripture after Jesus has risen from the dead. One day Peter and John are once again out fishing when Jesus says to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He says to them, “Cast the net on the RIGHT SIDE of the boat, and you will find some.” (John 21:5-6) So they cast their nets as Jesus instructed and amazingly they catch one hundred and fifty three LARGE fish. Please don’t miss what took place. Jesus gave them specific instructions to cast their net on the right hand side of the boat instead of the left hand side. For Jesus knew where the fish were and was giving Peter and John his inside scoop. As a result of the disciple’s obedience to Jesus’s EXACT instructions, there was VICTORY!
This story in Scripture is the last fishing story recorded before we see Peter, for the first time, FISHING FOR MEN! The event takes place on Pentecost in an upper room in Jerusalem. Ten days prior to Pentecost, Jesus tells his disciples, before ascending into heaven, that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them so that they can become his compelling and bold witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8) For Jesus needed his disciples to continue to be his hands and feet in order to make more disciples. For this to be accomplished, Jesus knew he could not leave his disciples to toil on their own. He would not ask them to be fishers of men without giving them an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which would give them not only POWER, but also his SONAR EQUIPMENT (communication with him), in order to fish for men effectively.
We see in Scripture that on the day the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), they did indeed became mighty witnesses. Jesus planned this event on a day that he knew BIG FISH would be in the area. On this day there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven. These men were in Jerusalem because Pentecost was a feast that all Jewish men were commanded to celebrate in Jerusalem. These men weren’t run of the mill men. They were devout men. Jesus needed them for God’s kingdom. Jesus needed these BIG FISH, to be caught with HIS truth.
All the disciples had to do is open their mouths and let the Holy Spirit speak through them. When they did they started speaking the mighty works of God. I can imagine Peter hearing Jesus say at the moment the Holy Spirit fell, “It’s time to drop your net Peter. Do it NOW! Open your mouth and LET me speak through you!” When Peter opened his mouth, not only did Peter speak in other tongues as the Holy Spirit gave him utterance, but he also gave his very first sermon, with absolutely no preparation time. And a powerful sermon it was. Because Peter allowed the Holy Spirit to speak through him, on that day he was a compelling witness for Jesus Christ. As a result 3000 souls heard the truth, believed, and were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The church was born! What a successful day of fishing for men…with absolutely no toiling involved!
Now, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then the commission of fishing for men is for you as well. Know that you don’t have to be a preacher to be a fisher of men. You don’t have to be extremely knowledgeable about the Bible. And no, you don’t have to live the perfect life to be a fisher of men, even though the enemy would have you believe these lies. You simply have to know Jesus, have a relationship with your Heavenly Father, and allow the Holy Spirit within you to lead you. We often times make fishing for men harder than it needs to be. As we have discovered through Peter’s stories, all we have to do is let down our nets when Jesus tells us to. All we have to do is to use the sonar equipment, Yahweh’s Holy Spirit given in Jesus’s name, within us. All we have to do is receive our instructions from Jesus and then cast our net. Only Jesus knows WHEN, WHERE, and HOW unbelievers are going to be caught, so let him tell you when the time is right and what bait to use.
As Jesus told Peter, do not be afraid. Jesus will guide you. He will instruct you. He will tell you when the timing is right. Like Peter, all you have to do is open your mouth and allow the Holy Spirit within you to speak the mighty works of God, and you will be catching fish in no time. It will be easy, fun, exciting, exhilarating, and addictive! There will be no striving or toiling on your part and you will see victory over and over again.
So tell Jesus, “AT YOUR WORD I will let down my nets!” Let him know that you are available for his Kingdom purposes, so that HIS WILL can be done on earth through your hands and feet. Open your mouth and let the Holy Spirit speak through you when Jesus asks you to. It may be to a friend, family, your boss, a complete stranger. Jesus will tell you exactly what to do and what to say, and it most likely will look different every single time. He may ask you to bring a neighbor a meal and tell one of your God stories. He may ask you to forgive someone who has offended you, because your actions as a Christian will speak his truth louder than any words ever could. He may ask you to invite your boss to church. He may ask you to lay hands on a complete stranger and pray for healing. He may ask you to share the Gospel with a friend’s child who has never heard of Jesus. Only Jesus knows who has he has prepared to either take your bait or is ready to be pulled into the boat. Don’t let your own thoughts or agendas get in the way. Simply LISTEN and OBEY like Peter did!
Trust me, there is nothing more rewarding than bringing someone a little closer to Jesus, whether you are instructed to drop bait into their life, or get the pleasure of pulling them into the boat. Both actions are needed in God’s kingdom. Your words and/or actions may just be the bait that draws the fish closer to hear more truth. The fish may not be caught by you on that day, but rest assured that you will have spiritually fed them. Because of your words and actions, they will have indeed moved closer to Jesus’ hook. They just might come back to you for more bait, because it tastes extremely good and different. Even if it looks like nothing has taken place after you drop your bait, know that something has transpired, or Jesus wouldn’t have instructed you to do it.
So please don’t wait! Don’t let another moment pass! Do what Jesus is telling you to do right now! A large school of fish might be under your boat at this very moment, ready to be caught. Do it today! You never know, because you have decided to listen to and obey Jesus’s exact instructions, you just may be the one who brings in the next BIG FISH. You may be the one who catches the next “Billy Graham” for God’s kingdom. Now wouldn’t that be a successful day!!!
“Do not be anxious how or what you are to answer or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:11-12)