Summary: What is the call of Christ? Is it a mysterious thing that only happens to select people? Is it something you have to work hard to get and discover? We will discover the answers to these questions and more in today’s message titled, “A Fisherman’s Call.
Just a word of background on our passage this morning. Jesus hadn’t been long into His public ministry. According to the Gospel of Matthew, we know that Jesus had already been baptized by John the Baptist. After that, Jesus was led away by the Holy Spirit to be tempted in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. Then Jesus set up His home base in Capernaum and began His public ministry. Matthew 4:17 says that, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” By looking at a comparison of the four Gospels, we see that Jesus had already met Peter and Andrew once. As a matter of fact, it was when Jesus met them the first time that they believed Him and were saved. We talked about that when we were in John 1 and 2. Peter’s brother Andrew was a follower of John the Baptist. After John baptized Jesus and publicly declared Him to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, he sent some of his disciples off to follow Him. Andrew was one of them. Andrew quickly went and got his brother Simon and took him to Jesus. John 1:42 puts it like this, “And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.” Cephas is the Aramaic word for the Greek word Peter. So that is when Peter first met Jesus. Later on in John 2, we see where Peter actually became a believer in Jesus. He had heard the teaching of Jesus and the testimony of his brother. But he didn’t actually become a believer until after he saw Jesus turn the water into wine. John 2:11 says, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.”
Now, don’t be confused by the things you see in the different Gospels. Some people have the tendency to see all the times that Jesus called disciples in the four Gospels and squish them into one event. They’re not. As a matter of fact, when you look carefully, you can see that there were actually several times that Jesus called the same guys.The first time He called them was when He called them to salvation in John 1. John 2 says that’s when they believed. The second time Jesus called them was in our passage this morning. He called them to be fishers of men. Later on, we’ll see what that means. Then even later on, Jesus called His disciples to an even more committed level of service in Luke 5. Finally there are two more callings in Mark 3 and Matthew 10. Those times, Jesus calls His disciples to even more focused and specific areas of ministry. With each of those calls, we see how the disciples’ obedience and faithfulness to the call led to more and more responsibility. Faithfulness to one call led to the next one. And each one became more and more focused and specific. Each one bore more responsibility. And each one had more potential for impact on the Kingdom of God. So, when we compare the Gospels we draw lines where we can, and we don’t draw lines where we shouldn’t. The line we can draw is that Peter was a believer before Jesus called him in our passage this morning. He was a believer, and he followed Jesus some. He hung around and picked up some teaching. He listened to the preacher. He heard the Word. But that was it. When he finished listening to the teaching, he went back to his normal routine of life. Even though he was saved and had picked up on some of Jesus’ teachings, life was the same. The same old routine. Back and forth, day after day, night after night. Fish in the nighttime, sleep during the morning, mend nets and catch bait in the evening. That was what they were doing when Jesus came walking up in verse 18. Zebedee and his two boys and their hired crew were sitting at the dock in their fairly large fishing boat. They were all working hard getting ready for the evening’s trip by checking and repairing their nets. This wasn’t some small john boat. This was a large scale commercial fishing operation. Zebedee and Sons was a big operation. They had a large boat—at least large enough that a crew of three couldn’t handle it. According to the account in Mark, they had a hired crew to help them. It’s even possible that Peter and Andrew were part of that crew. But here they were in the evening. They were docked and were mending their nets to get ready for that night’s haul. Peter and Andrew weren’t in the boat, though. They were either on the shore or on the dock. I imagine that they were on the opposite side of the dock from the boat. Verse 18 says that they were “casting their net into the sea”. That means they had to be on the shore or the dock, because that’s the only place you can use a cast net. When we lived in Mississippi, I used to go down to the Back Bay and watch shrimpers use a cast net. They used it the exact same way that Peter and Andrew were using theirs. Cast nets are about 9 feet around. To cast them, they would draw up the very center of the net and put it in their teeth. From that point, they would grab the edge of the net and toss it with a circular motion. When somebody is good at it, the thing spins out like a giant Frisbee and lands in a big circle in the water. When I tried it, I ended up with a tangled mess. Then, they would let it sink to the bottom and would draw it up. It would be full of shrimp or mullet or bait that they were going to use for big fish. That’s what Peter and Andrew were doing when Jesus walked up to them. They were preparing for a money making operation. But Jesus called. Jesus called Peter and Andrew and James and John. Jesus called them, just like He calls everybody He saves. Just like He’s calling you. In these three short verses, we see how Jesus calls. He calls us to a person. He calls us for a purpose. And He calls us to a response. First, let’s look at how Jesus calls us to a person.