Summary: A message to encourage listeners to become more active `fishers of souls.’
On the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia, there is obviously an abundance of fish. They are all shapes and sizes. It’s a fisherman’s paradise. There is only one problem, it is a conservation area and no fishing is allowed. Maybe you have experienced the same frustration at times.
It raises the question "Has a conservation order been placed on our local district. No fishing, No soul winning, No witnessing?" In many ways it would seem so. Yet Christ has called us to be "fishers of people" so what are we to do?
Have we forgotten how to fish for souls?
I) FISHING TAKES SKILL
Even the most well equipped fisherman who knows just where and when to go fishing can turn up empty handed. Look at Peter, he’d been out all night and had caught nothing. So Jesus tells him to put out into deep water and let down the nets once more. Peter was not yet a disciple of Jesus yet he put his trust in him and set out again.
It struck me as I was reading Luke 5 that Jesus told Peter to specifically put out into deep water. He could have said "Just throw the nets in from the shore" and still provided them with a big catch. However, there seems to be a metaphor here. Let me explain.
There was a point when I was a young Christian where I could have counted my non Christian friends on one hand. I’d say that this put me well and truly in the shallow water. Please don’t misunderstand me, I really value my Christian friends but the Lord has called us to put out into deep water. It pays to pause and take stock of our own personal lives at regular intervals because it’s so easy to get tied up in the practicalities and administration of Church life and forget who we are actually ministering to.
Jesus has called us to put out into deep water and this is reason enough to do so.
You may believe that you are already in deep water. Maybe Church on Sunday is the only time you meet with Christian friends. I hope it isn’t, I hope that you are at least involved in a home fellowship group also.
Well if you are in deep water metaphorically speaking then Jesus has called you to now "let down the nets." This will mean something different to each of us. Maybe your being called to start a Christian fellowship group within your workplace? Maybe a work mate has shown an interest in joining you at church? Maybe you’ve had an opportunity to invite a friend to tennis on Saturdays.
Jesus has given us the ultimate example of how we ought to approach our own personal ministries. If we were to examine his ministry we would discover that it had a two pronged approach. On the one hand he spent time, in private, teaching and socialising with his disciples. On the other hand he taught the word of God to thousands in a very public way and he had no qualms about mixing with people no matter who they were.
II) THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL
Unlike Jesus many of us make excuses for not putting out into deep water and letting down the nets. We may be discouraged because of past failures. Like Peter we may say "We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught a thing."
Have you ever heard this sort of thing:
"Australia is such an apathetic country, people won’t respond to the gospel. In fact they’re hostile towards it" or "There’s too many other religions or too many other things to do, people are tied up with building their own little empires."
All of these are plain facts about our secular society. But society has always been hostile towards God and the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s been that way since humanity was first deceived in the garden of Eden. These are no excuse for failing to fulfil the command of Christ to "Go out and make disciples of all people ..." (Matthew 28:19).
If we take a look at Luke 5:4 we can see that if we do put out into deep water and let down our nets we’re going to get a catch. Jesus has promised us success if we answer his call to become "fishers of people."
Christ is victorious in the battle for souls. Corinthians 15:57 says "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." We are not on the losing side so we should not expect defeat, we should instead press on to victory.
I realized something the other day that I found quite remarkable. Unlike the students in the compulsory schooling system that we have today, all of Jesus’ students were voluntary. They chose to hear his teaching and, on one occasion at least, we know that he had around 5000 students in one class! How did he attract so many people?