"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19).
With these words Jesus forever changed the lives of four men on the lake of Galilee, and later on, eight more.
These words are the highest calling man can have, reserved not only for the chosen Twelve, but also for us on “whom the end of the age has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
The next three and one-half years were spent following the Lord throughout the villages and country sides of Israel. It was a time jam-packed with events, struggles, joys and awe as the Kingdom of God rose up amidst the kingdoms of men. And we don’t know the half of it.
John, in the closing chapters of his Book says that there were so many stories that happened with Jesus, they could only record a small portion of them. And after all of the exciting (and sometimes wearying) experiences that the disciples would have over these forty-two months, they—like us—still had a few things to learn. “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18).
After the last supper had been eaten, Jesus turned to His disciples and said “I’m running out of time.” He began to share with them His last words. He tried to prepare them for the coming trial of their faith, because of His crucifixion. And then He died.
After the resurrection, Peter was disillusioned. With the memory of that shameful denial of Jesus haunting his heart, and unsure what to do next; he turned to the only thing that made sense to him—his occupation. “I’m going fishing” he said. “We’ll go with you” the other disciples replied. So they fished all night on the Sea of Tiberias. And caught nothing.
You see, when life doesn’t make sense, sometimes we turn to our occupation to find meaning and purpose. Please know, there is nothing wrong with work, indeed we are commanded to work for our food. But our jobs, unconnected with the aforementioned great calling (Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men) produce no lasting answers for the questions of life, and no souls for the kingdom of God. And so the disciples spent the night, accomplishing little.
As the morning sun rose slowly on the lake, the disciples saw someone standing on the shore. “How’s the fishing?” the voice floated across the water.
“Well…Bad!” was their honest reply.
“Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some” the voice came back.
It seemed ridiculous but they gave it one more try. And the net came alive with the explosive flurry of more than 150 large fish! Thank you, Lord. This story is the summation point of that original calling “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Here’s a lesson we can draw from this encouraging story.
As the disciples lived out the rest of their lives, serving God by building up His Kingdom with converts, there were many times when they didn’t know what to do. Like us they had situations that confused, worried and deflated them. And in every situation, we can call out to God and ask Him, “Where should we throw our net?” “Lord, what should I do here? Will you please help me?” He will!
Through His Word, the Lord will guide us. That wonderful voice comes floating across the waters of humanity. “Do this, my child. Cast your net in this direction.”