Summary: What are the implications to us today of the expression that Jesus used when he said "I will make you fishers of men"
Fishers of Men - Mt. 4:12-22
This morning I would like to focus on three words from our Gospel reading. I want to look at the phrase "fishers of men"
Story: There’s often more to life than appears on the surface. Take the year 1809. The Peninsula War in Spain was in progress and Napoleon had invaded Austria.
There were at least 20 battles and skirmishes on record, the most famous of which were:
1. Coruna, at which Sir John Moore the British Commander in Chief was killed and
2. Talavera, which established Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington as one of our most able Field Commanders, the man who went on to defeat the seemingly invincible Napoleon at Waterloo.
The 10 o’ clock news would have been full of Napoleon’s war with the Austrians and in Spain.
Nobody then cared about the babies who were born that year.
Yet in 1809 at least seven remarkable babieswere born.
1. William Gladstone, who was destined to become one of England’s greatest Prime Ministers.
2. Alfred Lord Tennyson, who was destined to become one of Britain’s finest poets and writers.
3. Edgar Allan Poe, the famous American writer, who was destined to live a short and tragic life
4. In Paris, France the invenot of the blind alphabet, Louis Braille
5. In Germany, the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn
And on the 12th February 1809 two remarkable men, one on each side of the Atlantic were born
6. In England Charles Darwin, who was to achieve fame in science with his Evolutionary Theory was born and
7. In the USA - Abraham Lincoln – probably the greatest American President ever was born.
If there had been a review of the year 1809, I’m certain these words would have been heard:
"The destiny of the world is being shaped on the battlefields in Austria and Spain today."
But history was actually being shaped in the
cradles of England and America.
(My thanks to Charles Swindoll for this information)
Just as there was more below the surface in 1809, so I believe that there is more below the surface in Jesus’ words to Andrew and Simon Peter when he said
“I will make you fishers of men”.
I think that it was more than just a pun on their present occupation as fishermen. It was more than simply calling Andrew and Simon Peter to a new trade.
They were no longer to catch fish but bring men and women into the Kingdom of God.
But if the phrase "fishers of men" is going to have any significance to us today, it must do so by giving us insights into the character required of Christ’s disciples.
I personally think that there are three important character traits that fishermen in the 1st Century on the Lake of Galilee had, which apply to Christians who want to be involved in mission today.
1st Century Fishermen would have had to be
to make a living at fishing.
And this gives a simple pneumonic: A.C.T. by which we can remember the three traits.
If we are going to be successful Christians then we too must ACT.
1. The first character trait was ADAPTABILITY
Depending on the fishing conditions of the day, a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee would use one of three methods of fishing.
1.1 Use of Hooks
One of these methods would have been the use of
baited hooks for catching individual fish.
We see reference to this method of fishing in Scripture when Jesus tells Peter in Mt. 17 to
“throw out your line. Take the first fish that you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours. (Mt. 17:27)
1.2. Use of the Cast Net
The second method of fishing was to use a cast net.
There were two types of cast net
1. A simple cast net called the amphibleestron, which was in the form of a bag, coming to a point at the bottom.
Its mouth was about 3 foot in diameter with weights around it, which kept it open when it was thrown and closed it when it sank in the water.
The fisherman would wade in from the shore and throw it with great dexterity considerable distance.
Peter and Andrew were fishing with these nets when Jesus called them in this morning’s Gospel lesson.
The other cast net, called a “diktuon” was too heavy to be thrown and so would be used by fishermen when they found themselves in the midst of a shoal.
It was the use of the “diktuon” that we see referred to in Jn’s gospel when Jesus, in one of his post-Resurrection appearances to the disciples, told Peter and his fellow fishermen to “throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some” (Jn 21:6) and they then caught 153 large fish.