Fishers of MenLeif
And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
– Mark 1:17 KJV
As a Christian who follows the teaching of Jesus Christ, we are given an amazing opportunity to become fishers of men. It’s a process of sharing Christ’s message to the world. Sounds easy, right? Well, the reality is the being a fisher of men is a lot easier said than done. The reason being is we find ourselves diving into a role where we not only serve others, but also testify to the life changing message of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. This approach happens both from a proactive and reactive stance. Meaning, there are times when we plan and go out and fish, while other times when fishing is brought to us. In both cases, we should be ready.
Now, when it comes to fishing, there are different ways to go about it. I am not sure what the fishermen of Peter’s time were like, but I am going to lean on the presumption they share similarities of the fishermen of today. They had a net, a pole, bait, tackle and patience. Though our times are different, the end result is the same; catch fish.
The World is Our Pond
As Peter would come to find out, Jesus taught the world is a pond. Each person has a choice to be caught up in God’s everlasting love through His Son Jesus, or they can ignore the message and swim by. Peter understood that catching fish is a numbers game and the only way to bring in a catch is to have a pole in the water. With this mindset, Peter shared the Good News. He didn’t focus on those who didn’t want to hear the message, but searched for those who hungered for it. Our approach needs to be the same way. We need to always remember that there is a sea of people who are living on this planet who are looking to hear the Good News. They have an emptiness in their life that only Christ can fill. If no one brings the message to them, how can they know the One who saves?
Tools of the Trade
Since fishermen need equipment to fish, we too need to be equipped. The gear we need though is not of this world, it’s spiritual and supernatural. What do I mean by that? Before Jesus ascended, He told us a teacher would come and take His place, this teacher is the Holy Spirit. The teacher aids us in understanding God’s Word. Through prayer, study, and fellowship – God reveals Himself to us, showing us His nature and how we are called to be as messengers of Jesus Christ. The techniques we use are for the edification of our Lord and our process is based on God’s will. There should be no separation of truth in our delivery. The Word is truth and it’s the truth that sets us free. As ambassadors of Christ, we find ourselves impelled to plant the seed of salvation to all.
If you are a new believer, or someone who hasn’t shared the message before, please understand that God has equipped you to fish. Even if all you have is your testimony, that’s all that matters. People may not like what they hear, but no one can take away the power of your testimony. Sometimes, it’s our testimony which is the very thing that tugs on a person’s heart to open their eyes to the message of our Lord. To see there is light in the darkness, and to hear hope where it is hopeless. Never think you don’t have what it takes to fish. God uses what is in our hands, especially our testimony.
Growth as a Fisherman
Each time we fish, it gets a little easier. I recall in the beginning of my walk, I was highly nervous talking about God to others. Most of my concerns stemmed from lack of knowledge in the word, wondering if I understood a passage correctly. I felt unworthy to talk about heavenly things when my life prior to Jesus was very worldly. It seemed hypocritical. But more than anything, I had an overwhelming sense of fear of inaccurately sharing God’s word. I did not want to lead anyone astray with false doctrine, or say something that I am not doing myself. Having a fear like this is a great motivator. It pushed me to study God, His character, His word, and His will. The more I studied, the more comfortable I felt sharing. The two went hand and hand, this is the growth process of a fisherman.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
– Proverbs 9:10 NIV
Peter’s Growth as a Fisherman
When we look at Peter before following Jesus, we see an ordinary man doing an every day job, just a fisherman. His job was nothing different from what we do. He had a shift and got paid on what he brought in. Peter was making an income so he could be an effective provider.
Then one day, that changed. While on the boat in Galilee, Peter was called by the Lord to personally follow Him. Peter could have denied the offer and kept fishing, but instead he accepted Jesus’ offer. Peter left his life of a fisherman to become a fisher of men. This is where we begin with Peter’s growth process.
While with Jesus…
- Peter is exposed to a whole new way of living. Peter learns first hand the Kingdom of God. He studies Jesus and His teachings, following every move. In this, we see the best way to learn how to properly do something is to watch others. Our eyes should always be focused on Jesus.
- Peter witnessed miracles being done in the name of God, through Jesus. This is a great reminder to never doubt the power of God, because He can do all things. It’s also a reminder that the glory and edification of everything we do goes to God and God alone.
- Peter is taught the meaning of scripture. Jesus provides clarity and understanding to the nature of God, His Kingdom and His creation. Fortunately for us, we too have access to a teacher, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Each day we should spend time seeking God’s word for our lives, asking the Holy Spirit to give us understanding and clarity. Allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us and instruct us how to be the servants God has called us to be.
- Peter is called to go out and practice the teachings he has learned from Jesus. This was probably a nervous step for Peter, taking what he has learned and putting it into action. The same can be said with us as believers. I truly believe those who follow Christ will find themselves in a cycle of training and exemplifying.
- Peter is taught how to pray. Now this wasn’t just Peter, but the disciples to. As they spent time with Jesus, they recognized the connection Jesus had with His Father. They wanted to have the same connection, and we should too. The things of this world are temporary and the disciples understood that. Our mind should be set on heavenly things.
- Peter sees Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration. By now, Peter is developing as a disciple. He sees Moses and Elijah and puts them on par with Jesus – wanting to make shelter for each of them. Peter thought he was doing right, but before Peter could finish speaking, a bright cloud covers them and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” In this, I am drawn to remember that the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) couldn’t do what Jesus accomplished.
- Peter is taught communion. A way to remember Jesus. His body, and His blood. Breaking bread with others is a blessing, partaking in the remembrance of Jesus and what He did on the cross.
- Peter finds out Jesus has been betrayed. Peter swears his allegiance to die with Him, but Jesus states Peter will deny him. In this moment, I see Peter wanting to prove otherwise. Which is the heart of all of us, to follow Jesus no matter where it may lead.
- Peter is on guard in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is praying when he is approached and arrested. Peter, in his rage to protect Jesus, cuts off the ear of the soldier. In His loving mercy, Jesus puts the ear back on the soldier and tells Peter to put away his sword – stating that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. I too can be like Peter, if I let my emotions take control I can find myself resorting to a carnal nature when trials arise. That’s the wrong sword, the sword we are called to use is not of carnal nature, but of the Spirit.
- Peter is accused of being a follower of Jesus. With each accusation, Peter denies knowing Jesus. With each denial, Peter becomes aggressive with his speech. On the third time of denying Jesus, Peter curses. In this, I see the human side of Peter – the human side of us. Peter has a heart for the Lord, but after witnessing what Jesus is going through, Peter finds himself in fear. The same thing will happen to us, there will be persecution for His name’s sake. There will be accusations made against us. Take heart and peace be with you, don’t let fear take hold.
- Peter lives in godly sorrow for denying Jesus. In his guilt, Peter leaves the role of a disciple and goes back to being a fisherman. At this stage, I can empathize with Peter. When I react in the flesh, I feel like I let God down. Depending on the severity of my mistake, I even wonder about my role as a Christian. Here, we see the enemy doing what he does best, planting the seed of doubt.
- Peter is called again by Jesus. After denying Jesus, Peter felt unworthy for his role. However, the Lord was not finished with Peter and the same is said with us. Brothers and sisters, we may feel unworthy by the things we do, but God sees our potential. He is faithful, even when we aren’t. The Lord is merciful and graceful with us, He understands us better than we know ourselves.
- Peter acknowledges his love for Jesus. Just as Peter denied Jesus three times, we see Peter given an opportunity to acknowledge his love for Jesus three times. With each answer Peter gives, the Lord tells Peter to feed His flock. By being able to acknowledge his love for the Lord, I have no doubt that Peter felt equipped for his journey. I believe there will come a point and time that all of us will have to acknowledge our love for the Lord. When we do, the Lord will expose His heart for our lives – equipping us to do what He has planned for us to do.
- Peter sees the Lord ascend into Heaven with a promise of returning. Before departing, the disciples are given a task, The Great Commission; to go out and share the Gospel, to make disciples among nations, to cast out demons, and to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The men were already prepared for their task, but it was more than just a task, it was their life. The world didn’t matter anymore, the only thing that mattered was the message of Salvation through the belief Jesus Christ.
- Peter receives the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, Peter (and others who were with him in the upper room) received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Together, as they spoke in native languages, thousands were saved and believed on the name of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. When the Holy Spirit is upon us, our speech will be different. I cannot emphasize that enough, I remember the old me versus the new me. After being saved in Christ, we receive a new heart, a new spirit. Our words will not be our own, but of the word of God. The messages we share in the Spirit will be for the edification of our Lord.
- Peter speaks with authority. No longer timid of others, Peter shares the message of Jesus to all. At this point, Peter is on a mission. When opposed by religious figures for speaking about Jesus, Peter rebuttals with the word of God, confirming that man is to obey God – and not man.
- Peter comes to the end of his journey, he is at the finish line. Jesus laid down His life for His church, and we are called to do the same. Peter understood to live is Christ and to die is gain. Peter would rather give his life for the Lord then live in denial. Amen.
Peter lived an ordinary life prior to following Jesus. But after following the Lord, Peter was transformed in the Spirit and led an extraordinary life committed to the Kingdom of God. In his walk, Peter transitioned from a fisherman to a fisher of men. His journey serves as encouragement, showing us God uses the simple things of this world to confound the wise. If we are to become a fisher of men, like Peter, we too will see an extraordinary transition in our life.
Surrender your life and follow the Lord. As you spend time with Him, make sure to listen, learn and implement. Allow the Lord to work in you, and through you.
Understand that Jesus is the example. Start your day with prayer and fill it with His word. There’s a saying, “You become who you associate with.” The question is, who are we spending our time with? If we spend time in the presence of our King, our focus shifts to His Kingdom. If I am focused on the things of this world, then I become earthly bound. To become a fisher of men, we have to become Kingdom focused.
Remain in Christ. Allow the Lord to be the Potter and shape you. You’ll come to find that our lives should not look like the world. We should be set apart (sanctified) from it. This is what it means to be a disciple, some who has self-discipline, who will listen to what God says and do it. As outlined above, there is a gradual maturity which occurs with walking with our Lord. Yes, we will face persecution for His name’s sake. Yes, we will make mistakes along the way. And yes, all of the situations will stretch and strengthen you. But remember that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
Stay grounded. The Lord says those who humble themselves will be exalted, but those who exalt themselves will be humbled. Always give credit to our Lord and remember, we are beggars just pointing other beggars where the bread is. God is the One who saves, He’s the One who brings the harvest, our role is to sow the seed and water. Be salt + light.
Be an encouragement to others. Sometimes we can get so focused on what God has revealed to us, we push people away. We are meant to gather, not scatter. Cut yourself, and others, some slack. This doesn’t mean allow sin in your life or partake in the lifestyle of sinners. When Paul said he became all things to all people to save a few, he meant that he learned how to talk on their level. But never did he forget who he was in Christ. If our heart is hard towards those who do evil, no one will be saved. That’s what makes the Gospel so powerful, it wasn’t when I was saved that Jesus died for me. No, it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us. Remember that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. Let your life be a testimony and example of the King you serve. Be compassionate, full of loving, mercy and grace. Rebuke in righteousness.
Friends, brother and sisters. I pray the Lord exposes His will for your life, giving you revelation on His Kingdom and to become the servant He has called you to be. With out a doubt I know our Lord will give you the tools needed to be equipped for every good work. I pray we lean not on our own understanding but seek the Kingdom first in all we do. I pray for protection against the enemy who seeks to sift us like wheat. I pray for strength and encouragement in our walk. Let our lives shine as an example of Jesus. May our words be seasoned with salt, and our hearts focused on His instruction. May the Lord bless you and your fishing. Amen.