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BECOMING FISHERS OF MEN
Intro: It was early in the morning. Few people were on the shore at that hour. About the only people active that early in the morning were the weary fishermen who were just finishing another hard night of fishing on the Sea of Galilee. In one boat, two brothers stand while they cast their nets into the sea and drag them back into the boat, hoping to catch a few more fish to send to market. In another boat nearby, two brothers from a different family sit while they mend their nets, preparing them for the next night of fishing, with the hopes that the haul will be just a little bit better.
Things are winding down and all the men are anxious to get their catch to market and then go home to get some rest. But, as they finish their activities for that morning, a man passes by along the shoreline. He calls out to the men in the boats, invites them to come follow Him. When He does, four of the men in the boats leave their nets and boats behind to follow this man as His disciples.
His call to them is simple, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.” Yet, it was a call that changed their lives forever! For Jesus did takes these men, these simple Galilean fishermen and He transformed them into some of the greatest “fishers of men” the world has ever seen! I am interested in this passage, because I am convinced that Jesus wants to do in your life and mine just what He did in the lives of these men. He wants to take us, just like we are with all our faults, failures and rough edges and He wants to transform us into fishers of men. This passage gives us a few insights into how this can come to pass. Let’s look into these verses as we think together on the thought: Becoming Fishers Of Men. If we are going to become “Fishers of Men”, thenwe must:
I. WE MUST FOLLOW THE RIGHT PERSON
A. Notice who these men left everything to follow: Jesus, v. 18, 20. The world “followed”, v. 18, means “to cleave to another, conforming to His example”. In other words, these men left their nets, their boats and life as they knew it, to cleave to Jesus and learn from Him!
B. And learn they did! They saw Jesus go into places and interact with people that most religious, upstanding citizens would have nothing to do with! (Ill. Woman at the well, John 4; a leper, Mark 1, a demoniac; Mark 5, a sinful woman, Luke 7; a woman taken in adultery, John 8; A Gentile woman with a sick daughter, Mark 7.)
C. Do you get the picture? Jesus taught them this truth: Every life matters to God! If these disciples had followed most of us around, they would have learned that people like us matter. People in our economic bracket; people with our ethnic background; people with our skin color; people with out religious background, etc, they all matter. But, if anyone is different, then they are off limits. Not so with Jesus! He loved them all and reached out to everyone, regardless of who they were or where they were! (Note: Aren’t you glad that He didn’t put restrictions on the kind of people He would love? If He had, then He wouldn’t have chosen you and me!)
D. What am I saying? When you follow the right person, you learn the truth that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, 2 Pet. 3:9; that Jesus came to die for sinners, Luke 19:10; Mark 2:17 and that the Gospel message is to be preached everywhere to everyone, Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20!
II. WE MUST FINISH THE RIGHT PREPARATIONS
A. James and John are seen “mending” their nets, v. 19. This word means “to render complete, to prepare or to strengthen.” In other words, they are busy getting their nets ready to cast. They want to be sure there are no holes in their nets that the fish can swim through. They want to make sure their nets are strong and will not break.
B. If we are going to be effective as fishers of men in this world, then we too must be sure that our nets are ready to cast. What do I mean? Well, among other things:
1. Be sure of your own salvation - 2 Cor. 3:5; 2 Pet. 1:10
2. Know what the Lord did for you and how to share that with someone else - Your best witnessing tool is the simple story of how Jesus saved you and changed your life! (Note: This does not require that you be a theologian! Ill. The blind man at the temple - John 9:25.)
3. Be prayed up and ready for the Lord to use you when He allows opportunities to witness to come your way - 1 Pet. 3:15
C. What kind of shape are your nets in this evening? Close the holes and strengthen the nets so the Lord can use your life to reap His harvest!
III. WE MUST FIND THE RIGHT PROCESS
A. Verse 16 tells us that Peter and Andrew were casting their nets when Jesus found them. That word means they were “Casting first on one side, then on the other.” In other words, they were casting those nets all over the place trying to gather in some fish!
B. The lesson for those of us who would be fishers of men in this: We are to be in the business of casting the net everywhere we go! I think the best plan for witnessing that I have ever seen was the plan used by the Lord Jesus! He just shared the massage everywhere He went! As He went about His daily life, He used every situation as an opportunity to talk to someone about the condition of their soul. He used a well of water to talk to a thirsty woman. He used bread to speak to a hungry multitude. He talked about seed to farmers, money to merchants, He used the ordinary, run of the mill experiences of life to get the massage out! I am a firm believer in this truth: every conversation can be turned into a conversation about Jesus Christ, if we are listening to His voice and we are sensitive to the what is happening!
C. What is the right process? Is it the Roman Road? Is it John 3:16? Those will work just fine, but in reality, the right process is a Spirit-filled saint of God pointing a lost sinner to Jesus Christ, Acts 1:8! Basically, all it boils down to is this: Witnessing is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread! That is the process! It worked in my life and it worked in your life and God will us that same process through us to touch others!
IV. WE MUST FISH THE RIGHT PLACES
A. I would assume that Peter and Andrew were casting their nets into the water. You know why? Because that’s where the fish live! They would have been wasting their time had they been casting their nets onto the dry ground! If they were going to enclose fish in their nets, they would have to go where the fish were!
B. This same truth holds when it comes to the matter of witnessing! If we are going to see people saved, then we have got to go where they are! That is, we are to go outside the walls of this place and take the net out into the world where the lost live and share the Gospel with them! We are to be active in this matter of getting the message out into the world. People are perishing and we hold the antidote to their sickness. We must get the message out into the world! We preach the Gospel in the church, but we must preach the Gospel in the world if we would see people saved!
C. Ill. Haggai 2:19 asks a very important question: “Is the seed yet in the barn?” The implication is this: as long as the seed sits in the barn, it cannot be planted, it cannot germinate and it cannot produce a harvest. Seed that merely sits in the barn cannot accomplish its mission! The same is true for the Gospel seed! It must be taken out of the barn and it must be sown in the world if the harvest is to be reaped!
D. We understand this, but we still don’t always know where to fish do we? But, the Lord Jesus does, Luke 4:5-7; John 21:6. If we will listen to His voice, have our nets mended and ready, He will guide our steps to those places where the fish are biting! (Note: God is sovereign in salvation! He is working out a plan and saving His elect. He will send us to the right places if we will follow Him and fish where He tells us! Of course, where He tells us to fish might be somewhere we don’t like. At that moment, we face a decision. Will we follow Jesus and fish where He says, or will we do it our way and come up empty, John 21:3.)
V. WE MUST FURNISH THE RIGHT PATIENCE
A. Notice what Jesus said to Peter and to Andrew, “I will make you to become fishers of men.” That statement is in the future tense. In other words, they would get there, but it would take some time! What I like is this: Jesus saw the potential in their lives before that potential was ever apparent! (Ill. What they became: Peter - Preacher (Acts 2:41; 4:4), Bible book author; Andrew - Personal witness, (John 1:41; John 6:8-9; Acts 12:21); James - Martyr - (Acts 12:2); John - Preacher, Pastor and author of 5 New Testament books, including The Revelation, a man in intimate fellowship with Jesus, who has encouraged countless saints, 1 John 1:1.
B. Notice that Jesus chose them, they didn’t choose Him! (Ill. Disciples normally chose a rabbi to follow. Jesus went after His disciples and He chose them with the objective of taking them like He caught these men and now He would equip them to share in His task!)
C. Friend, you may feel this evening like you will never be a witness! You want to see people saved and you want to point people to Heaven, but you feel so inadequate and so unprepared. Listen, if Jesus can take these ignorant, unlearned fishermen and use them to touch the world, then friend, He can use you! In fact, He probably already has and you aren’t even aware of when or how.
Conc: The fact is, He has already equipped you, Acts 1:8. So, get those nets mended, get after Jesus, let Him show you where to fish and go to it! The harvest, after all, is His responsibility! Ill. Moody’s Sunday School teacher. Ill. Illiterate man in Texas.