Summary: God has called us to be fishers of men.
My dad’s from Minnesota. Does anyone here know what Minnesota is known for? Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes. Just about everyone in Minnesota fishes. Now, my dad once told me the story about a peculiar fisherman from Minnesota. You see, this fisherman was very well prepared. He knew how to fish. He had everything you need to be a good fisherman. He had poles, nets, bait, and even a really nice boat, but this fisherman had a problem. You see, for all his preparation he never caught anything. Not one fish. Not one, not ever. And you know why he never caught a fish? What do you think? The answers easy: He never went fishing. He had all the knowledge and all the equipment, but he never got into the boat, he never left the dock. Today on this anniversary Sunday, we are going to talk about fishing. Because God wants us to thank him for the blessings of the past by going fishing, but as we see in our text for this morning, not for fish, but for men. God wants us to go fishing for basically two reasons: because he has prepared us to go and because he has called us to go fishing.
I. Because God has prepared us
In text for this morning we see Jesus at the very beginning of his ministry. He has just spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. The news on the street is that John the Baptist, who had baptized him only a few weeks earlier had been thrown in jail. So Jesus travels up to the land where he grew up, Galilee, and begins to preach, "the good news of God." The good news of God. It was kind of like those newspaper boys in the olden days, yelling from the corner of the street, "Extra, Extra read all about it…"
And that’s basically what Jesus did. He went into Galilee proclaiming this good news. He yelled out, "the time has come, the kingdom of God is near." The time has come. Every event of the past, everything that would happen in the future meet at this point in history. We can literally say that this was history’s defining moment. Jesus had come to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament. He had come to bring the Kingdom of God, that is he came to rule in peoples hearts. That’s what the Kingdom of God is: that God rules in peoples hearts.
But before he could reign in their hearts, they had to first see their need for him, and so Jesus used one simple word. He said, "repent." Repent, one little word that literally brings men to their knees. For with this word, men were shown the mirror of the law, the law that they knew all to well, the law of Moses, the Ten Commandments. In this law they could see that they hadn’t even kept one of God’s commandments perfectly as he demands. In this law they saw the punishment they deserved, the eternal suffering and anguish of hell. All in one little word, "repent." With this one word, Jesus showed them that they needed a Savior, that they needed him.
But he didn’t stop there. He told them, "believe the good news." And what was this good news? It was the good news that God had come to earth, it was the good news that the Savior so long awaited, the Savior that they so desperately needed had come to suffer and die for their sins. "Extra, extra read all about, God is here to save us!"
And this was the message that these first disciples heard. Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John: they had been disciples of John the Baptist. John had told them that Jesus was the "lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." And with this message, Jesus started to prepare them, to prepare them for fishing. And during the rest of his life here on this earth Jesus continued to prepare them. He taught them, he allowed them to see miracles, he even promised them his Holy Spirit to empower them. These guys were well prepared for fishing…
But you know, God really has called us in the same way. He calls to us through his Word, "the time has come the kingdom of God is near." Today is the day of our Salvation. Today, right this moment God calls to us to tell us that he has come and now reigns forever in heaven and in the hearts of all those who believe in him. And so, just as Jesus called to those Galileans two thousand years ago, so he now calls to us:
"Repent." That one little word that brings each and everyone of us to our knees, for it forces us to look into the mirror of the Law in which we see that we haven’t kept even one of God’s commandments. Kids, how many times do you not listen to your parents? You go where they tell you not and do what they tell not to do. But hey, as adults, we aren’t any better. We lie, we get angry, we gossip, we have lustful thoughts… When we look in the mirror of God’s Law we see that we are ugly and deformed sinners who deserve God’s eternal punishment in hell. That one little word "repent" reminds us of our need for a Savior.