Fishers Of Men

Scripture: Matthew 4:18-22 (Today's sermon is taken from verse 19)

Sermon preached at Gospel Light Christian Church Singapore

on 14 February 1999

Introduction: Jesus had one goal in His earthly ministry - "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). A Christian's chief goal is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever and the best way to glorify God is through the salvation of men.

The disciples whom Jesus commanded to follow Him were already fishermen. After they followed Him, they would be engaged in a nobler form of "fishing." After we became Christians, we continue in our roles as fathers, mothers, children, workers, students, citizens, etc. However, by following Jesus we become better fathers, mothers, children, etc. As our "light so shines before men" (Matthew 5:16) through good testimonies, we can be effective fishers of men in the places that God has placed us. Jesus promised His disciples that if they followed Him, He would make them "fishers of men." Therefore, we can deduce that if we are not fishers of men, it is because we have not followed Him.

Follow me: Jesus commanded the four to follow Him. In other words, they were to be His disciples. Discipleship involves three basic steps - leaving the past, living with the teacher and learning from Him. Jesus' disciples "straightway left their nets and followed him" (v.20), lived with Him for the next three years and learned His doctrine and methods. Obviously, we cannot follow Jesus in the same way that they did because He is no more physically present with us. However, we must do so spiritually. After we are saved, we follow Jesus by first leaving our past life with its goals of glorifying self through looks, wealth and honour, and of seeking ease, comforts and pleasures. We first "leave" this lifestyle in our hearts by realizing that it is the opposite of Jesus' lifestyle, that it is displeasing to God and that it is unsatisfying and the cause of many of life's problems. We next "leave" this lifestyle by avoiding influences that entice us to it, e.g. worldly friends, magazines, television programs. After leaving the past, we "live" with Jesus by reading of Him in the Bible, and fellowshipping with godly Christians. Before we can be fishers of men, we need first to have Jesus' tender heart which "came to seek and to save that which was lost," and His hardworking character that is revealed by this saying: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). Finally, we learn from Jesus by reading the Bible and learning of His doctrine and methods. As His disciples, we must teach what He taught (e.g. the simple Gospel), in the manner that He taught (i.e. without using worldly methods) and to the people that He taught (i.e. especially the poor).

I will make you: Our duty is to follow Him, and His promise is to make us fishers of men. Firstly, He promises to make us Christ-like in character if we leave our worldly ways and study His Word (2 Corinthians 3:18). We will gradually have His heart which desires "to seek and save the lost." Secondly, He will make us proficient witnesses of the Gospel (Proverbs 16:1). Thirdly, He will guide us to the right people to share the Gospel (Psalm 37:23). Fourthly, He will prepare the hearts of the hearers for us (Proverbs 21:1). We need not worry about our deficiencies because it is Jesus who will "make" us fishers of men.

Fishers of men: Jesus' first chose fishermen to be His disciples because "seeking and saving" of men is similar to fishing in several ways. Firstly, like fishermen, we must be self-denying and willing to lead a life of difficulty, struggles and challenges. Fishermen lead hard lives and work irregular hours. Though their lives are not easy, they are amply compensated by the satisfaction of the catch. Secondly, like fishermen, we must learn to depend on God. Fishermen know that their safety in the open sea and their success depend on God. Thirdly, we must be patient and persevering. Fishermen continue to cast their lines and nets even if they repeatedly fail to catch anything. They know that the more often they cast their nets, the greater the likelihood of catching fish. Fourthly, we must be willing to go where the prospects are. This often involves much effort, sacrifice and risk. Fifthly, we must realize that different methods are required to reach different types of persons. Apostle Paul said "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22). To the child, we speak with childlike illustrations, to the scientist we speak scientifically, to the unloved we highlight Jesus' love, to the self-righteous we highlight His holiness, etc. Lastly, fishermen realize that their skill is a practical one which must be learned by doing. We will never to able to witness until we do it. Attending classes on evangelism will be useless unless we are willing to try it.

Conclusion: Every selfish attainment in this life provides poor satisfaction and will eventually be lost but every person whom we led to God will be our eternal "joy and crown" (Philippians 4:1).

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