I recently came across the “fishers of men” statement Jesus made to the disciples. Jesus called Peter and Andrew while they were fishing and said, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) That statement (and His promise!) holds true for us today. We can’t follow Jesus around as the disciples did, but we do “follow” him by sharing the good news of the Gospel.
The Great Commission
Did you “catch” that promise- “I will make you fishers of men.” That makes me a little uneasy. Jesus says he will enable us-you and me- to share the good news of the Gospel.
I am not a preacher, nor do I feel equipped to be one. “Not my gift,” I say, as a way to relieve myself of the responsibility. Not one of us, however, has that excuse to fall back on. It’s been said that sharing the Gospel is the “Great Commission” not the “Great Suggestion.”
But Jesus didn’t just make the promise. He also gives us what we need to make it happen.
Let’s see what makes a good fisherman and see how it also relates to sharing the Good News.
How to Become a Disciple
It’s hard work!
The disciples were “casting a net into the lake” (Matthew 4:18). They did this from the shore or from a boat and it was a common way to fish. It was hard, time-consuming work and required preparation (mending the nets), strength and perseverance.
Our work also requires preparation (knowing the Bible), strength (to stand up for what we believe), and the perseverance to be in the work for the long haul, i.e. your whole life!
Qualities of a Disciple
Be a good student!
Successful fishermen are good students. They have to learn fish behavior, feeding, and habitat. In addition, they learn how tides and weather influence fishing. Fishing is more than just dropping a net or a line.
Fishers of men, likewise, need to be good students. We need to know what we believe and why, or our conversations won’t be authentic. If this scares you, write out what you would say if someone were to ask you about your faith. “I don’t know but I’ll find out” is perfectly OK to say if someone asks you a question and you don’t have the answer.
Fishing for Men
Know where to fish!
When casting their nets, the fishermen try to drop them over a school of fish rather than an empty area. They know the particular body of water and where to find the fish. Deep or shallow? Warm or cool parts of the lake? Time of day? They take all these things into consideration.
Where do we “fish for men”?
If you only spend your time in Bible studies and church and with Christian friends, how can you reach those that need to hear the Gospel?
Expand your thinking past those “empty areas” that are only filled with other Christians. We shop, eat out, go to work, etc. Daily activities can be used to show authentic representations of Jesus.
How To Share the Gospel
•Can you post a scripture verse on social media with a personal note of how it has affected you? Share your church’s website or a Christian blog? (*shameless plug)
•Can you have something in your workplace/car/briefcase/purse that identifies you as a Christian? For example, a printed out scripture verse, a cross, etc.? It may spark conversations.
•Someone suggested that when eating out and your waitperson asks “Is there anything else I can get for you?” we could respond “is there anything I could pray about for you?”
I actually tried this over the phone when I had to talk to a customer service person. Let’s just say it was awkward- complete silence, then a terse “have a nice day”, but I don’t know what God did with my offer. I leave it in His hands.
That’s what He calls us to do, right? Reach out in love, plant the seed, and let the Holy Spirit work.
•We don’t want to make non-believers feel we’re “dropping a net” on them like a trap. Faith is not something we can force on others, and each person’s faith journey plays out in different ways. What we can do (and He calls us to do) is to live by Jesus’ example and then spread his message of salvation.
Showing the Love of Jesus
•Show sincere love, compassionate kindness, grace, forgiveness, and joy. That attracts others to you and then gives you opportunities to share your personal faith. Who wants to listen to a person talk about Jesus who is known to enjoy gossip, make unkind comments or berate others??
Do you doubt you are up to the task of sharing the Good News? Look at those first “fishers of men.” They weren’t influential or scholarly. I don’t even know if they were the greatest fishermen!
What they did have was a love for Jesus and the desire to follow him. When we follow him, he can transform us into “fishers of men” too. Even if it makes us uncomfortable, it is our responsibility.
He doesn’t ask everyone to stand on street corners, or go to another country, (but you can do these things!!) He’s asking us to follow Him and share our faith with others.
Jesus knows the fear that lives in our hearts. He reassures Peter with the words “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” (Luke 5:10) Ask yourself what exactly it is that you fear about sharing and then work on it!
Finally, and Most Important- PRAY
- Pray for his help and guidance to be effective; to be a good listener.
- Pray to retain what we have learned in his word.
- Pray for open doors and the eyes to see opportunities to share.
- Pray to be used!
- Pray for boldness and to cast out fears, doubts, and anxieties. Remind yourself of 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power.” If fear is not from God where is it coming from? Step out of your comfort zone even if it’s just with your big toe!
- Pray against discouragement. It may be awkward at times, but remember that God works in ways we may never hear about.
Blessings as you seek to share the Good News!
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.