The last time I went fishing, I recall getting lots of bites.
Mosquito bites, that is. I can’t say I’m a very successful fisherwoman.
That’s why I’m so encouraged by Jesus’s statement: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19, ESV)
Not: “Come be fishers of men.” Not: “Go do your best to fish men.” Not: “I see you have potential to become good fishers of men.”
“I will make you fishers of men.”
I see four words of good news for the times we feel like fishing failures:
First, there’s the I. Jesus is going to do the work here. He can be trusted. He is the one they are following. I suspect their immediate, radical following had nothing to do with the “fishers of men” and everything to do with the “follow me.”
There’s no command to fish men. That will come later, in Matthew 28, after Jesus spends three years with these fishermen. The command is, “Follow me.” Jesus calls them first to Himself, and they’re all about that.
There is evidence in the other gospels that these fishermen had already encountered Jesus and become convinced that He was the Messiah. So when He walked up to their fishing boats and singled them out to be His followers, they immediately recognized the privilege and left their nets. There’s no way they were missing out on a chance to follow Jesus.
Second, there’s the will. Jesus isn’t hedging bets here. He’s making a promise. He will make them fishers of men. They will pass this course. They will be successful at what He’s calling them to do. I wonder how many times they reminded themselves of this promise when it seemed like they had failed…again (or how many times they needed to remind themselves of this promise but forgot it).
Third, there’s the make. They aren’t fishers of men yet. This is going to take time. This is going to involve transformation. Over the next three years or so, their lives are going to be turned upside down. They are going to see and do amazing things. They are going to experience uncomfortable and scary circumstances.
And when you put the will and the make together, you realize this isn’t an optional transformation. It is going to happen in the life of everyone who follows Jesus closely.
Finally, there’s the you. Yes, even you, Peter, the one who would deny Christ. Yes, even you, James and John, the ones thought you were better than everyone else. Yes, even all of us, with all of our shortcomings. There’s no one He cannot make into a fisher of men.
There’s no shaming in Jesus’s call. There’s no evaluation of whether or not we can do it. There’s a simple invitation: “Follow me.”
“And I will make you fishers of men.”
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