Lately I’ve been thinking about when Jesus looked at Peter and Andrew and said to them, “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mt. 4:19) As I read through the Gospel I have enjoyed seeing how Jesus changed the hearts of his rag tag bunch of followers. They begin their journey with Him in near complete obedience. That’s because they have taken upon themselves this Messiah’s promise. Don’t be mistaken, this is a promise. Jesus tells them, “Follow ME!” that’s a command. Immediately following the command Jesus says, “and I will make you…” that’s a promise, “fishers of men…” that’s the end result.
Now, to Mathew 4:19. Now what’s intrigu
ing about this passage is who does the work. The passage is not about making yourself a fisher of men, but it is about following Jesus. You see Jesus was saying, “Follow me” that’s the command. We follow Him! In our obedience to Christ, we will be lead into evangelism. The promise is “I will make you fishers of men.” Did you see that? Jesus says that He will mold you into fishers of men. The passage is saying, “OBEY.” If you will obey Christ, then you will be made into fishers of men. Easy. So, reading this passage helped me to realize something. We become fishers of men when we know Christ. The more we know Christ, the more he shapes us into who He designed us to be. The more that happens, the more we fish.
Now, fishing in Jesus’ context was hard work. You couldn’t just sit on the side with a pole. You were casting nets, dragging them in, finding the schools of fish, up early, home late, and you probably lived pay check to pay check. Your hands were calloused from the nets, and you always smelled like fish. So, when Jesus looks at these to fishermen and says, “I’ll make you fishers of men.” I don’t think they thought, “How wonderfully relaxing and comforting that will be!” I think they rolled up their sleeves and said, “Let’s do this!” My point is: following Jesus is not always easy. Following Jesus means we are going to be transformed into His image. He is going to have to chip away a lot of nonsense. But, we are invited into a journey that is well worth the work! To follow Jesus means to be changed. It means to journey on a lifestyle that will take discipline and hard work. Further, it means that Jesus is going to mold us into disciplined hard workers.
Now it is necessary to take note that Jesus doesn’t tell Levi, “Follow me and I will make you a money counter of men.” His response is always, “follow me,” but it is not qualified in such a specific manner again. So this begs the question. Was this promise only for the fishing disciples? I don’t think so. I think He doesn’t repeat the same pattern because it only made sense in this context. Matthew was not going to be transformed into a counter of people, that would be contrary to Christ’s mission. But, in this passage there is an underlying principle. That is, a journey with the Messiah is going to so change who you are. It is going to change your life and you are naturally going to be evangelical. If you follow Jesus, then you will be a witness. Christ has moved, and you can do nothing else.