Jesus: The Master Fisher of Men
Jesus was a carpenter by trade. He did have a lot of time and experience on the Sea of Galilee with several fishermen. On two different occasions Jesus helped his fishing disciples catch a large quantity of fish. First, in Luke 5:1-11 the disciples had been fishing all night and caught nothing. Jesus had Peter cast out into the deep. The result of this was such a large catch Peter had to call for another boat to assist. After His resurrection Peter and several other disciples went back to fishing. Again, they spent the night in the boat and caught nothing. Jesus called and told them to “‘cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So, they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish” (John 21:6). On another occasion Jesus told Peter to go fishing. When he caught a fish, he was to open its mouth and he would find coins to pay both His and Peter’s temple tax. Now that is some fish story. No wonder the disciples began to listen to Jesus when He talked to them about fishing, especially fishing for men.
Compassion for the Lost
A fisherman does not have to like fish or even eat fish to be good at his job. He certainly does not have to have compassion on the fish. However, he may throw the small ones back, so they can grow up to be caught another day. One of the most amazing aspects of Jesus ability to influence others is His love and compassion for people. You can talk to just about anything to anyone, if they know you really care about them. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus asking what he needed to do to obtain eternal live. “Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me’” (Mark 10:21). Throughout His ministry Jesus had a love for the lost with strong feelings of compassion.
●“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
● “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick” (Matt. 14:14).
● “Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way’” (Matt. 15:32).
● “So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him” (Matt. 20:34).
● “And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’” (Luke 7:12,13).
Not only did He have compassion, He did something. Do not just see the needs of the lost and love them. Do something! Share with them the Good News.
Seize the Moment
Jesus was very busy healing and addressing the crowds. However, He was never so busy that he could not stop and bait a hook for fishing opportunities. In John 4:1-42 Jesus and His apostles were passing through Samaria. The apostles went into town to find something to eat. Jews normally did not have anything to do with Samaritans, but Jesus had compassion on all men and even women. When seeking the lost no such barriers can keep one from hooking onto the opportunity to fish for men. When a Samaritan woman came out to fetch water from Jacob’s Well, Jesus seized upon this opportunity to arouse her spiritual interest. First, he found some common ground: the need for water. He asked her for a drink. He had no means to get water for Himself, but she did. Quickly He turned the conversation from the physical need for water to the promise of “living” water He could give to her.
Jesus was the expert when it same to choosing the right bait for the right moment to lure others into a conversation about their soul’s deepest needs. Not only did He use a little boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand, but He turned it into an opportunity the next day to teach the masses He was the bread of life come down from heaven (John 6). Whether it be a question, a lily in the field, a sower in the field, a barren fig tree, Jesus could turn the conversation to the spiritual topics people needed to hear.
When the disciples came back to see Jesus talking to the woman, they questioned Him. She went off to the city to tell them about Jesus. He asked the disciples, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35). The people were coming out to meet Him. They only needed to open their eyes to the opportunities that were right in front of them and not wait four months. A short time later, Philip would come to Samaria and baptize many of them (Acts 8:12).
One on One Personal Contact
Much of what we call personal evangelism is not very personal. Most would rather just pass out flyers or preach on a radio without facing the lost person to person. Once I had asked an older Christian man to teach a new converts class in his home. He said he would only if I could guarantee three to four students. Otherwise, it was not worthy his time.
Jesus took time for the single soul in need of His guidance to truth. When Nicodemas came to Jesus by night to ask him how to enter the kingdom, He took the time to teach him (John 3:1f). When the rich young ruler came asking Him the same question, He told him what to do (Matt. 19:16-22). He spoke one on one with the Samaritan woman at the well and she went to the city to tell the people who she found. That one woman brought out to Jesus the whole city of Sychar. Jesus knew that souls are not just saved in large audiences gathering to hear the Gospel. Most are saved one soul at a time.
Many, many other lessons can be learned by observing the Master Fisher of Men. Study the Gospel accounts showing how Jesus interacted with people. You will be amazed by His examples on how to share the Good News with others.
– Daniel R. Vess