Summary: The second in a series on the Commands of Christ. The command to "Follow Him that he might make us Fishers of Men."
To follow Christ is to set aside our own goals and pleasures and to embrace the purposes for which God created us. Those purposes are: to know Him in a personal way and to make disciples of others by teaching them all of Christ’s commands. All those who truly follow Christ must exchange their affections, goals and priorities for his.
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew their goal was to be successful fishermen. In asking them to forsake this goal, he commanded them to follow him and He would “make them fishers for men’s souls.” Jesus did not simply command His disciples to become fishers of men but rather He promised to make them fishers of men.
2. How does Fishing for Men Relate to Following Christ?
The common image of a fisherman in our day is of a man with a fishing pole casting a lure into the waters of a stream or a lake. However, such was not the case when Jesus called his disciples. They caught men with nets and by experience they found that their best fishing took place at night. We know that this is true by looking at Luke 5:5, when Jesus told Peter to cast his nets on the other side of the boat he said, “Master we have toiled all night and caught nothing never-theless at your word I will let down the net.” How did they fish at night? They used a very powerful and effective method, light. Fish were attracted to light.
3. How are to we compare fishing to reaching people for Jesus?
Jesus uses this same effective method to draw people to Himself. John tells us that Jesus said (8:12), “I am the light of the world, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”
Just as fish are attracted to the disciples light, God wants people to be drawn to His light shining through His people. The light of every believer is the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives. Paul stated in his second letter to the Corinthians (4:6-7), “For it is God who command-ed light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, (7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power of God may be of God and not of us.”
We are not the light we merely reflect the light of Jesus.
4. What does it require to follow Jesus?
It was a call that required complete and immediate attachment for every else. Peter and Andrew “left their nets” (v. 20) suggesting that they left their present occupation. James and John “left their father” (v. 22) suggesting that following Christ takes precedence over even maintaining close proximity to our family. The requirement for following Jesus are not the same for everyone. For some it means leaving their present occupations to follow him. For others it means a willing to leave family connections and being close to family. But for everyone it is a willingness to exchange their affections, goals and priorities for his.
Listen careful to the statement I am about to make because I do not want you to misunderstand me. The worse thing in life may not be that we fail. The greatest failures occur when we succeed in areas that are not God’s will for our lives and are not true to the clear teaching of scripture, success that keep us from pursuing God’s real plan for our lives. The worse thing in life is not failing but succeeding in a worldly pursuit having left Christ out of our lives.