Charles Price - Becoming Fishers of Men

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"The Call to Be Fishers of Men" - Part One

"'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men'.
At once they left their nets and followed him."
Matthew 4:19-20

The idea of becoming "fishers of men" may sound intimidating to many people, but it is actually a very exciting business with the unexpected happening in the course of our everyday lives. Author and Bible teacher, Charles Price, gave a clear understanding of Jesus' invitation to "Come, follow me", and described what it means for each of us personally stepping in with Jesus to become fishers of men.

In Acts, Chapter 1, verse 8, Jesus spoke His last words to His disciples before ascending to heaven. "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria and unto the ends of the earth." The rest of the Book of Acts is an outworking of those final words. In Acts, Chapter 2, 120 disciples of Jesus were gathered in a house in Jerusalem, and they received power when the Holy Spirit came down upon them. After Peter had spoken to the crowd that had gathered, the number of new converts, filled with the Spirit, had multiplied to about 3,000 that day. The news of the Gospel turned Jerusalem upside down, and spread into Judea, then Samaria and throughout the known world. Acts ends in the city of Rome, the heart of the greatest empire of that day. And to this day, the Gospel is heard on every continent in every country, and is still making its way to the far reaches of the remotest tribes and villages isolated from modernization.

The vast and rapid spread of the Gospel is rooted very humbly and simply with Jesus meeting everyday, ordinary people. "As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen." Matthew 4: 18. Then Jesus came across two other bothers, James and John, also fishermen. "Come, follow Me," He said, and then uses a very natural analogy for them, "and I will make you fishers of men." First, there is the invitation to, "Come, follow Me." That was their business, their end of it, and then there is a promise, "I will make you fishers of men." I am going to do something in you that makes you fishers of men.

The invitation to "Come, follow Me," is an invitation to be a disciple of Jesus and ultimately to be born again of the Spirit, though ‘Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified’ (John 7:39). That to us is this: to recognize our separation from God, to acknowledge and accept it, and to know that Jesus Christ died, bearing the consequence of our sin. On the basis of forgiveness, He then comes by His Holy Spirit to live within us, and we become regenerate, discovering new appetites, desires, motivations and new power. Sadly, there are thousands of people who will meet in a place of Christian worship and are simply trying to follow Jesus without knowing anything of His indwelling presence that is now available to those who put their trust in Him.

Having been made regenerate, the invitation is then to work with Him. "Follow Me" is a code for discipleship. John 12:26 says, "Whoever serves me must follow me and where I am, my servant also will be." In other words, wherever Jesus is, we are, but the question is, where is He working? What is He doing? In Henry Blackaby's book, "Experiencing God," he talks about finding out where God is working and for us to join Him there. That doesn't mean we need to travel to Korea or Zimbabwe or some far away place, but Blackaby is saying to keep our eyes and ears open in such a way that where God is at work, we are available to Him, so that the work He does, He can do through us. This requires being prayerful and sensitive to what Christ is doing, which comes out of sharing an intimate, loving relationship with Him.

Jesus lived on earth completely dependent upon His Father. He said in John 5:19, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." In the same way, we live in complete dependence on Christ, with our eyes and ears open to where He is working. In the story of the woman of Samaria, the disciples had not yet caught on, and they totally ignored a woman, alone, and in the heat of the day, retrieving water from a well, which normally would have been done in the cool morning or evening hours. That suggests she was an outcast, ostracized by her community and was ripe to hear the Gospel. When the disciples returned from their errand, they were surprised to see Jesus talking to a woman, much less a Samaritan woman as hostility existed between Jews and Samaritans. Jesus said to them, "Do you not say, Four months more and then the harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest." John 4: 35

In making us fishers of men, Jesus wasn't saying that He would make us evangelists, missionaries or someone in full time Christian ministry, though many are. Often, it's just one person He puts in our path at any given moment. Becoming fishers of men is a day-to-day trusting in Christ and learning to sense His leading, which places us in the right place at the right time to be of service to Him. Proverbs 3:6 says, "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." We cannot make ourselves fishers of men. That is the work of Jesus within the person who is in step with Him.

The interesting and marvelous thing is that Jesus will take our natural interests, gifts and skills, and give them a spiritual dimension and function. Paul was an arch enemy of the church, organizing, mobilizing and leading the arrest of Christians, and those very skills enabled him to become the church planter and the great apostle he became. Peter, of course, was a fisherman, who became a greater fisherman spiritually. He was the evangelist preacher on the Day of Pentecost and was the first to lead a Gentile to Christ, a man called Cornelius. In the Old Testament, Moses was a shepherd for 40 years in the Midian Desert, and then becomes a shepherd of the people of Israel for 40 years in the desert. Joshua is introduced as a young soldier and becomes the military leader in Israel's conquering of Canaan.

We need not be intimidated, apprehensive or reluctant to serve God because we fear He'll want us to be someone we're not. To the contrary, the analogy of a fisherman has a unique application with the principle being that what you are and where you are gifted and energized are the areas God will take to work through you. Very often spiritual gifts are natural gifts, energized by the Holy Spirit for spiritual ends, and this is what makes us 'missional' people, serving God wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.

Discipleship is recognizing that, as Christians, we are called by God and therefore equipped by God to be outward looking and that will often take us by surprise. We never know who we'll meet, but the Spirit will lead us to the right person at the right time. Maybe it will simply be an act of kindness or a few words to someone who is hurting, depressed or lost and searching. Then suddenly our prayers come alive with names attached and a sense of urgency to them. It may not happen quickly. It is a process with steps forward and backwards as it was for the disciples, but nothing deepens our walk with God more than serving Him, and nothing brings us more joy than having helped someone in their journey to find Christ. And if we let Him, that's what Christ promises… He'll make us fishers of men, the noblest cause on earth.



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