Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose fishermen to spread the gospel? Maybe you’ve wondered what characteristics or traits of good fishermen make them such excellent candidates for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s consider the text,
“Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:16-18).
What was it about fishermen that made them such great candidates for reaching the world with the gospel?
First, fishermen are diligent workers and preparers. Peter and Andrew were hard at work – “casting a net into the sea”—when Jesus came upon them (Mark 1:16). James and John were mending nets (Mark 1:19). Two were fishing and two were preparing to fish. Yet, other fishermen were washing their nets (Luke 5:2). Men who work and prepare to work are prime candidates for taking the gospel to the world (Mark 3:14).
Second, good fishermen are great observers and followers. Jesus said to Peter and Andrew “follow me” (Mark 1:17). Additionally Jesus “called” to James and John and they followed (Matt. 4:21). Great fishermen are great analysts. They observe air and water temperature. They look at barometric pressure, moons and tides. They carefully study water depth, seasons, water topography, and special biological characteristics of target species. Elite fishermen try to think like a fish in how a fish feeds, spawns and moves. Further, great fishermen not only collect data but effectively use the data to catch target fish. To thrive in the moment Peter and Andrew had to be well accustomed to following natural ques in catching fish. In similar manner, Jesus would turn their attention to following Divine ques in fishing for men. They left their father Zebedee along with the hired servants and followed Jesus (Mark 1:20).
Third, good fishermen love the hunt. Jeremiah talks about God sending forth “many fishers” and “many hunters” to go after the righteous remnant to bring them back to their land (Jer. 16:14-16). In hunting and fishing there is a spiritual arousal deep in the heart of man that is awakened in the passionate pursuit, capture and taking of a fish or beast. Great men of God, like eagles in swift pursuit of prey, soar far above sometimes before pin pointing one soul to target to bring back to the Lord. Like the angels of heaven they rejoice over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).
Fourth, good fishermen are judicious toward trash fish. “Trash fish” are fish that not fit to eat and not very fun to catch. Take mud fish for example. They may be as heavy and fight as hard as a largemouth bass, but as one brother put it, it’s like bragging that you kissed your sister! In the parable of the net, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a net cast into the sea that gathers every kind of fish (Matt. 13:47). As God patiently deals with the masses of humanity that are rebellious (cf. Rom. 2:4), he is patient towards men who are evil and will spend eternity in the fiery furnace (Matt. 13:50). Good fishermen, like the Lord, don’t mind throwing away the bad (Matt. 13:48). Good fishermen develop great skill in being judicious with how they use their bait toward rebellious people.
Fifth, genuine fishermen believe in the seemingly impossible and are not afraid. Great fishermen will go to extreme lengths into the most remote places in the world to catch rare and exotics species. They will lose vacation, sleep, weight, and money. They will experience disease and illness just to have a chance at one glimpse of a river monster. Peter was told by Jesus to go out into the deep and let down his nets (Luke 5:4). To Peter, you could empathize with him that this seemed quite impossible. After all, he had toiled all night and took nothing (Luke 5:5). Fishermen often hang their hopes on a thread of possibility that they might hook that great marlin or snag a giant tarpon. As believers we must have faith as a grain of mustard seed (Matt. 17:20). We must believe that God is able to do far more abundantly than we think or ask (Eph. 3:20). When we do, we’ll be like Peter that simply follow the Lord, push out deep and let down our nets. If we will we’ll be like James and John; if we’ll give up fear, we’ll find ourselves astonished at what all God is able to do (Luke 5:9-11)!
Will you relish the catch (Mark 1:16-18)?