Two thousand years ago, Jesus walked along the beach at the Sea of Galilee and came across two brothers bearing the names of Peter and Andrew. He called out to them using one of the most powerful metaphors in history. He said to them, “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:18-19)” The brothers dropped their equipment and followed him instantly. His purpose in that metaphor was to begin discipling them so that they would, in turn, go and make disciples of the nations (Matthew 28:19-20).
It is interesting that he used a metaphor instead of a simile. If he had used a simile, he would have said, “follow me, and I will make you like fishers of men.” But instead, he made the comparison active and direct: You will be fishers of men. To follow Jesus is to become like him (Romans 8:29, 1 John 2:6, 1 Peter 2:21). And to become like him is to be a fisher of men. The depth of this metaphor is near bottomless. For instance, at the time of Jesus, “fisher” was not a fanatical hobby as it is today. Instead, it was a life. A person gained livelihood from its fruits. Everything a fisher did either revolved around fishing, was connected to fishing, or was borne from fishing. Their enjoyment, their social connections, their wealth, and their world was in being a fisher. While a fisher lived his life in the water. He was not of the water.
Like most ancient occupations, a new fisher was taught by another fisher. This is how Jesus built his disciples. He chose them from their world, and guided them into his, teaching them his ways. He cast his net, and fished his men into his boat. Once there, he lived life with them, and they lived it with him. He trained them up and taught them what his father had given him (John 7:14-16). Those men then went and changed the world. If you are reading this, and you have made a decision to follow Jesus, then his example is yours to follow. To be like Jesus, is to be a fisher of people. Jesus has taught you something, and it is now your turn to fish others with the gospel. Making that activity your life is to be like Jesus. You will then disciple those people who are attracted to the gospel of Jesus. And when you lead them in his way, they will take what they have learned, and they will change the world.
In what waters are you fishing, and for what is it that are you fishing?