Perhaps you’ve seen on a church marque or bumper sticker the following quip: “Be a fisher of men – you catch em’, Jesus cleans em’.” I’m not so sure about the ‘catch em’ part, but I do know the whole phrase is a reference to Jesus calling the first disciples in Matthew 4:
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Matthew 4:18-20
What does it mean to be a fisher of men?
When Peter and Andrew heard these words from Jesus, I wonder what thoughts ran through their mind. ‘Fishers of men? Really? What is Jesus talking about?’
It’s important to note that Peter and Andrew met Jesus months earlier in John 1:35-43 and had accepted Him as Messiah. Now Jesus calls them to leave everything, and follow him.
In one sense it was all about reorientation. They knew about fishing for fish. But fishing for men? I suppose Jesus’ words, as they often did in the gospels, confuse and confound them initially.
Specifically, Jesus would redeem, shape and utilize their experience as fisherman to now function in a new paradigm – the Kingdom of God! Ultimately, in time, they would come to understand their Kingdom responsibility as ‘fishers of men.’
Jesus, in calling them to follow Him, could have used any phrase. Yet, I find it striking that His calling on their lives about their future endeavor includes their past!
And therein lies a powerful application for you and me.
You see, I was a professional tennis coach for 14 years. In fact, I have played the game of tennis most of my life. And I can tell you God has used my tennis experience in my witness for Jesus Christ. In fact, I’ve written a book on personal evangelism entitled ‘Serving In His Court’ that utilizes the motif of tennis in equipping believers to fulfill the Great Commission.
For you, the Lord can use all of your experiences, expertise, and knowledge in developing your witness.
He made Peter and Andrew ‘fishers of men.’ He has used my past experience in tennis as He develops my witness for Him today. How about you?
God can and does use our past to glorify His name in the present. Whatever gifts, abilities, and experiences He has endowed you with, He can and will use them to shape you into the witness He desires you to be. The key is to simply follow Him, as Peter and Andrew did.
So follow Jesus and commit your way to Him, allowing Him to use the gifts, abilities and experiences He’s given you, ‘for men’ and ultimately for His Glory!