Fishers of Men
Now as He walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed Him. And when He had gone a little farther thence, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway He called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after Him. —Mark 1:16-20
In these powerful passages we are witnessing Jesus’ call of four disciples from their regular occupation as net fishermen. As we see these men called, I believe you will have a better understanding how this account relates to our daily lives.
Weave the Net
In these verses, James and John, his brother, are weaving their nets with tools they used daily, tying knots in cord and mending them.
Have you ever thought about what a net is? It’s just a bunch of holes tied together. Furthermore, do you know what a hole is? It’s a “nothing.” And that’s exactly what we are— a bunch of “nothings. ”But if you take a bunch of nothings and tie them together, they become powerful.
We are united together in order to accomplish far more than any one individual could by themselves. Together, we are holding hands and working as one to literally span the globe.
Work the Net
A great example of this principle is in Luke 5:4-5. Jesus spoke to Simon and advised him, “…Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net.”
I don’t think this story is in the Bible merely as a fish story or just so Simon could brag of his catch. Jesus already told the disciples they were to be fishers of men. He was teaching them as He is teaching us. Although Simon didn’t understand everything, he cast his net as Jesus commanded.
And seeing that we too are woven together, casting our nets, bringing many souls to the Lord Jesus Christ, we must depend solely upon Jesus. We can’t just sail through the sea of humanity and keep the net in the boat. No, we must get out and draw the net for Jesus. You may hear some say, “I just want people to see my life and then they’ll want to be a Christian.” Listen friend, people are not saved by your life; they are saved by His death. They don’t need to say what a wonderful person you are; they need to know how wonderful Jesus is.
Wash the Net
Preceding Simon’s instruction to cast his net, it says in verse two, “He…saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.”
Any good net is going to pick up debris. If you do not wash the net you’ll find this result.
- It will smell up the boat. The net catches dead fish, seaweed and mud off the bottom and consequently is pulled in your boat.
- It will rot the cord. If you allow filth to foul the net, your net eventually will disintegrate and rot.
- It will make the work harder. That net is meant to be almost invisible and to just slide through the sea.
- It will frighten the fish. Fish can see a dirty net even from a long distance. You will find some who prefer to think that the things accruing in the net are really just part of the net. But we must continue to wash our nets, keeping our lives clean and pure— to wash away the filth of sin and needless activity.
Worship the Net
It’s a tragedy to reach the place where you worship your net. In Habakkuk 1:13-17, Habakkuk tearfully prays asking how the Lord can allow the Chaldeans to come and devour His people.
In verse 15, Habakkuk depicts the invading army coming across the land as a net swallowing up the people, “They take up all of them with the angle [hook] they catch them in their net and they gather them in their drag and therefore they rejoice and are glad.” As the Chaldeans rejoice in their victory, verse 16 continues, “Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag”; they had something that worked so well and was so slick, that tragically they started to worship it. And to worship anything other than almighty God is idolatry.
The most valuable thing is not the net; it’s the souls. Adopt the characteristic of a fisherman by having compassion on the souls that are lost and by having courage to step out and cast your net.
A wise man once said when we fish for fish, we take them out of the beautiful life into death, but when we fish for men we take them out of death into a beautiful life.
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