Summary: Though Christians do the fishing, God does the catching.
“Fishing Isn’t the Same as Catching”
By Kenneth Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
When I was a young boy, my dad and I would often take off on a Saturday to a nearby lake.
We’d rent a small fishing boat, buy some crickets as bait and go out fishing for several hours.
We never caught a thing!
One time, just one time, my sister Lisa came along with us…
…and you know what?
You guessed it…she caught a fish.
But even though I wasn’t the one who caught the fish, it was still a really exciting experience.
For one thing, we learned, “gee…this lake really does have fish in it.”
I was also able to see what it was like to catch one…to bring it into the boat…to put it in a bucket…take it home…and scale it.
I wasn’t the one who caught it, but I was glad Lisa did.
As we look at our Gospel Lesson for this morning, two really important facts jump right off the page.
The first is how quickly—actually immediately—the disciples responded to Jesus’ call.
The second is that He called them not to be catchers of men, but to be fishers; and there is a difference.
Verse 18 tells us about the quick decision on the disciple’s part: “At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Something is really happening here.
People don’t usually drop what they are doing immediately…especially fishermen.
Fishermen think things over.
They’re usually slow to act because they are used to having to use so much patience to get what they want.
But for these four disciples, well, their response was immediate.
They left their nets and followed Jesus.
How many people are willing to follow or respond so immediately?
How often are people asked to do something for the church and their immediate answer is: “Sure I will. I’ll be glad to.”?
How often do we immediately respond?
Is it only when our boss calls; or our wife or mom?
Or do we even put off our response in those cases?
“Just a minute honey!”…
…or “Not right now, dear!”…
…or “How about during the next time out?”
And what the disciples were called to do…well…it pales in comparison to the little things I’m talking about.
All the disciples of Jesus left something behind.
These first four left their fishing boats, their livelihood and their homes.
And it wasn’t the kind of situation where they could say: “Well, okay, we’ll try this out for a while, and see how it works out.”
There was a finality about it.
Have we left anything to follow Jesus?
And I ask this because in order to follow Jesus we do have to leave something behind…for good!
It may not mean that we have to leave our present jobs, or our homes or families…but it might.
What it definitely does mean is that we will have to leave behind some of the prejudices that we cherish so much…and that are so familiar to who we are.
And maybe there are lifestyle issues we must leave behind in order to follow Christ.
One day when I was in seminary, on the campus of Emory University, I was witnessing to a college student.
I asked him if he believed that Jesus Christ is Who He says He is.
His answer was yes.
Then I asked him if he would be willing to pray, repent of his sins, and ask Jesus to become the Lord of his life.
His answer was, “No. Not yet. I believe, but I’m not ready to give my life to Christ. There are too many things I’m not ready to give up.”
How many of us ‘believe’, but are not willing to follow?
James, the brother of Jesus, tells us: “Even the demons believe…”
But we are also told that they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire!
“Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”
The power of the Gospel changes people’s lives.
Once we meet Jesus on the road of our own individual life, and decide to follow Him, we will be changed!
We will be different people.
But many of us tend to resist change.
So many folks just want to see the Gospel through rose colored glasses—wanting to see only the joy, comfort, and light—and not wanting to see the difficult or disruptive.
“Behold, I make all things new,” says Jesus.
Two very important words in this morning’s Gospel Lesson are repent and believe.
Too many people think repent means to feel sorry for what you’ve done—and then, go do it again.
That’s not it at all.