Summary: Fishing for people is not optional; it’s how the world has changed from those very first days when Jesus walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee proclaiming the nearness of the kingdom of heaven. Its how the world will continue to be transformed unti
As many of you will remember from last week, we are doing a special sermon series this month called “Gone Fishin’,” where we will take a fishing trip with Jesus as we explore the fishing stories of the gospel. Now, the best fishing trips are the ones where you catch something, right? But what makes the best fishing trip even better? Maybe a few stories to share while you wait on the bite. So as we set off this morning, I want to share a fishing story with you.
Ed and Bob were long-time fishing pals. They loved to get together, launch a boat and get out into the lake in the hunt for a good catch. One day as Bob and Ed were fishing on the lake, they looked over to the shore and saw an unusually long procession of cars driving slowly by. The procession was led by a cop car, and the two men pretty quickly figured out that they were looking at a funeral procession. As they discovered what was happening, Ed slowly stood up, removed his hat, and placed his hand across his chest. Bob was baffled, he had never seen such a display by Ed. So he said, “Ed, I’ve never seen you do anything like that in your life! What gives, what’s with all the respect all of a sudden?”
Ed looked over at his old fishing buddy, shrugged a little and said, “Well, I was married to the woman for over 30 years!”
As we continue on our fishing trip with Jesus this week, we hear Matthew’s account of the calling of the first disciples. If you remember, last week, we heard Luke’s account of the same story, and we considered what it means to offer all of ourselves to Christ as he calls us into the “deep waters” to fish and be blessed. As we focus this morning on Matthew’s story we are going to consider exactly Christ means when he calls disciples to follow him and fish for people.
We talked last week about how Christ’s call is always stretching us and pulling us to deeper waters. Yet still, as we watch people change their entire lives in order to follow the call of Christ as preachers or teachers or missionaries, we often wonder, why these people would give so much up to follow a simple carpenter turned wandering preacher. And trust me, it goes the other way too, as sometime we preachers and probably missionaries too, wonder why we didn’t go into medicine or law or any of a host of other more lucrative careers. But any of you who have ever even once followed the slightest call of Christ in your lives knows the answer to that question deep down. There is just something about Jesus, the power of his presence—it was something known and felt by those first disciples, and it is no less powerful today. Sometimes Christ’s call comes slowly, starting as just the smallest inkling and growing until we can no longer ignore it. Sometimes Jesus calls people as suddenly and dramatically as he called Peter, Andrew, James, and John. But here’s the thing; when it happens to you, by whatever means and at whatever pace, you will know; Jesus has a way of getting through, and no matter where we are in life, or what we are doing, somehow we will be aware enough of his presence and call to know what it is we’re being asked to do.
I think it’s interesting to note that even before those first disciples were asked by Jesus to make a profession their faith in him, Jesus called them to go and fish for people. Jesus had been walking around the Judean countryside preaching that the kingdom of heaven was approaching. This is significant news for any Jew who longed to see the freedom and justice of God’s promised kingdom. But any faithful Jew would also understand that being a part of the kingdom of God means living those same values, and the Israelites were not exactly known for their adherence to God’s covenants and the values of the kingdom. So the whole focus of Jesus’ ministry from the very beginning is to give people the opportunity to change their ways, their hearts and their minds, to repent, as the kingdom of heaven nears. It’s an important message, isn’t it? God’s desire is that all of his creation would be a part of his eternal kingdom, and so Jesus is trying to get the word out to anybody and everybody that God’s kingdom is near and everyone needs to prepare. But in the first century, one man couldn’t get the word out to the entire world all by himself. So as Jesus is walking along and preaching, he happens by a few fishermen and he says to them in essence, “Hey, if this movement is going to be successful at all, I’m going to need your help!”