When Jesus told Peter and Andrew, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” in Matthew 4:19, their reaction was immediate. “At once they left their nets and followed him,” verse 20. And the same with James and John in verses 21-22.
It’s amazing how quickly they changed gears, from throwing their nets out to catch fish, to the idea of throwing nets out to catch people. But a new era had begun, which started with Jesus choosing disciples to follow him. And out of the five disciples whose professions we know, four of them were fishermen. Fishing was a tough job, long hours, bad weather, and many sleepless nights and meals missed. But not a bad profession for what Jesus had in mind for them, because fishing for people would be a tough job too.
To follow Jesus meant “following in his steps,” 1 Peter 2:21, meaning “arming ourselves with his same attitude,” 1 Peter 4:1, of not living for “evil human desires, but rather for the will of God,” verse 2. So following Jesus would mean a serious switch in their attitude, lifestyle and behaviour. Because living God’s will would become the new fishing net they’d be working with.
Peter gives an example in 1 Peter 3:1, where he addresses wives married to husbands who “do not believe the word,” to encourage the wives that their husbands can be “won over by your behaviour when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
That’s the net that works; respect and goodness. That’s what made her an effective “fisher of men,” just as “gentleness and respect” are characteristic of any disciple, verse 16, so “if people speak against you they’ll be ashamed when they see what a good life you live.” Jesus has given us a powerful net.
But like the life of a fisherman, that “good life we live” can be tough, because obeying God’s will is like heading out into choppy waters to fish. But as a fisherman that’s what you do. And it makes you tough. It also makes you good at what you do. You catch fish.
Which is what Jesus chose us to do. He gave us a net – sticking like glue to the attitudes, lifestyle and behaviour outlined in God’s will and Jesus’ example, in the choppy waters of our culture. Because obeying God’s will is how we catch fish best.
One thought on ““I will make you fishers of men” ”
Speaking of “fishing nets” makes me think another type of net—the “safety net.” These nets are used for all types of “aerialist” or “high wire” acts when prospective performers first start out and then practice their craft. The “safety net” underneath will “catch” them when they fall. After months and even years of practice, they become so skilled at their craft that they no longer require the nets and are ready for the “live performances.” Their status is “changed” or “transfigured,” if you will, from student to full-fledged performer.
This example of the “transfiguration” of a student to live performer is a “snapshot” of the “transfiguration” that happened when “Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” (Matt 17:1-2)
I believe that the “transfiguration” of Jesus is the “blueprint” that Paul was referring to when he said, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory”” (2 Cor 15:51-54).