I love fishing. However, by definition (at least mine anyway) that means when I go out with bait and a pole, I actually catch fish on the hook. I’ve gone before and caught nothing. That’s not fishing. That’s casting. I don’t do casting.
Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Today in our staff meeting we engaged in a lengthy discussion about what it means to be a “fisher of men”. You know, because Jesus called His disciples and said: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Wow. You should have heard all the similes, metaphors, and analogies. They were popping up left and right like salmon on a spawning run.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist.
Anyways, the rest of our discussion centered on the idea that we do not really engage in the spiritual fishing activity as much as we should. You know, witnessing. We nailed down the “follow me” part to be His way of telling them to place their faith in him and when they did that, He would make them dynamic impactors of their world.
And the disciples did just that. Even unto death. Pretty incredible, right? So how come we can’t manage to work up the courage to do it today?
I began to think about the word “follow” and I think in this command we may find our answer. I come from the camp where witnessing looks like me knocking on a door, saying “hi” and immediately diving into “If you died right now, are you sure heaven is your home?” I always felt weird saying it, but that’s what we did. If I was honest, it wasn’t very effective. Only until the past several years have I wondered why that was.
This brings us back to that word “follow”. What does it mean to follow? Specifically, what did Jesus mean when He said it? Maybe that command is more than just a veiled reference to salvation. I believe He meant several things.
TRUST / OBSERVE / LISTEN / IMITATE
Trust that what Jesus was doing and communicating was not only right, but it was done the right way. Observe, because the greatest teaching tool is the student observing the teacher doing things properly. Listen, because the doctrinal truth would be spoken and love without truth is not really love at all. And of course imitate, because the greatest sign of a person following is that the pupil becomes a teacher.
love without truth is not really love at all.
When you look at the fishing Jesus did, are you finding yourself imitating what He did? He never began a sentence with “If you died right now…” but He did say “Zacchaeus, come down from that tree. We’re going to supper.” He never walked away from addressing a spiritual concern without the person knowing Jesus really, genuinely cared about them. And yet, how many times have I asked a person such a serious question about their eternal destination and never even knew their name?
Have I communicated that in truth, I don’t really care about them as a person?
Jesus said follow me. Watch how I fish. Listen to the methods I use.
Now go and do thou likewise.