Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt 4:19)

by Steven Chan

In Matt 4:19, the Lord Jesus said to the two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” As it was then, it is the same today, if we wish to be followers of Christ, then we must be “fishers of men” for that is what He said He would want us all to become.

In Matt 9:35-38, the Bible tells us that as the fisher of men “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Brethren, our Lord, the Master Fisher of Men, showed us that in order to be effective fishers of men, we need to have a heart of compassion for those who are “weary and scattered like sheep without a shepherd”. God Himself was moved by His Love for man that He sent His only begotten Son to pay the price for our redemption so that we can have the hope of heaven as our home. To be effective fishers of men, we need to ensure that our hearts of full of compassion for those who are yet without hope. Yes, we do preach the gospel because it is entrusted to us: “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”(1 Cor 9:16) but we must also preach because of our love and compassion for the lost.

As fishers of men, we need to realize that there are very few who are really labouring for the Lord in fishing for men who are drowning in their sins. We must add to the few in number, so that there may be more workers in the Lord’s vineyard. Will you resolve to follow Jesus like Peter & Andrew, and let the Lord make you become ‘fishers of men’?

As fishers of men, the Lord tells us that indeed “the harvest is plentiful” – in other words there are many who can be saved from their sins. So, we need to be earnest in our efforts to reach out to them – whether they are found in the desert road as Philip found the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8), or in the prison as Paul found the jailor in Philippi (Acts 16), or at the “the riverside, where prayer was customarily made” where Lydia was found (Acts 16:13). Interesting to note that individuals are found and oftentimes, they obey the gospel together with their family members. But we must first find them “one by one” wherever they may happen to be. In each instance, the fisher of men had to go where the lost can be found. Until and unless the Christians of today go out and seek the lost, many will not be found and will be lost forever. Do we realize the importance of the work and do we sense the urgency that must accompany our effort as exemplified by Jesus who “went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom” as well as by the first century Christians who “daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”(Acts 5:42)

Our Lord tells us that we must also pray the Lord will send out labourers into the vineyard – the clarion call is for more followers of Christ to be ‘fishers of men’. Why are there so few who are willing to devote their lives to being ‘fishers of men’?

Let’s consider what Jesus said in John 4:34-38: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

Jesus says that the need is urgent because the field is already white unto harvest. People are ready to come home to the Shepherd of their souls. But they do not know the way. We need to help show them the way home.

Importantly, Jesus tells us that those who are working as “fishers of men” are “receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life” and they will all rejoice together. In John 6:27

Jesus said: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life.” Do we realize that the effort spent on fishing for men will have eternal rewards while the labor of working for men will not last? Yet, many still remain unmoved by the need to be ‘fishers of men’ as commissioned by the Lord.

The Klang Valley Campaign for Christ will start on 8th March, 2012 and every effort is being expended to publicise this event far and wide. However, souls will not be saved if we do not resolve to go out and bring them in – “one by one” – wherever they may be found. Do not overlook anyone. Do not think that some are beyond redemption. When Jesus found Zacchaeus, many thought that he was such a terrible sinner that he was beyond redemption and that he could not possibly repent and return to God’s way, yet Jesus said in Luke 19:9-10: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus found Zacchaeus while others by-passed him. Are you by-passing potential seekers of the truth? Brethren, it is high time that we start working for the Lord and be effective ‘fishers of men’ as we follow Jesus. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear our Lord say to us when we meet Him: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”(Matt 25:21). Are we faithful in what God has entrusted to us?

Are we fishing for men? Jesus can make us become effective ‘fishers of men’ if we follow Him. For apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). But if we work with Christ and do what He says, as when He told Peter to cast his net to a particular place, the catch was tremendous – even though he had toiled very hard without any success before that. The difference lies in our obedience to the bidding of our Lord (Luke 5:4-6). We need to be workers together with the Lord as He is the one who will give the increase (I Cor 3:5-9).  Are we ashamed of the gospel? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes”(Rom 1:16). Let’s go fishing for men and glorify our Lord in so doing.