Torchbearers for Christ
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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How interesting it is that at least seven of the men whom Jesus called to be His first disciples were fishermen by occupation! Several of them were engaged in fishing related activities at the time when He first called them. Some were casting their nets into the water (Matthew 4:18), others were washing their nets (Luke 5:2) and some were mending their nets (Mark 1:19). We also learn from the account in Luke 5:1-11 that when the Lord first called Peter and his two partners, James and John, He gave them a miraculous haul of fish. Peter was so overcome by the miracle and his own sinfulness that he said to Jesus, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord”, to which Jesus replied, “Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men”. Matthew’s account reads “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
These first disciples were ordinary, hard working men, accustomed to rowing their boats, sometimes against the wind, at times in stormy waters, often working long and disappointing hours to catch fish for a living. They were described by the religious leaders of the day as “ignorant and unlearned men”, but God took them, filled them with His Holy Spirit, imparting to them the same passion of saviourhood that Jesus Himself had and through them and others of like mind “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). God is still looking for ordinary people like you and me whom he can make into “fishers of men”. We could think of our own lives as “nets” to be cast into the sea of humanity, wherever God has placed us. 
We have seen that when Jesus called Peter and Andrew, his brother, they were CASTING their nets into the sea”. (Mark 1:16). The fisherman knows that if he is to catch fish he must cast the net; fish don’t normally leap into the boat! So, it is with us. It is possible for us to have a good relationship with the Lord ourselves, but for a variety of reasons, not make an effort to reach people around us. Many of us can recall how a relative, friend or associate shared their faith in Christ with us, leading us to a personal experience of salvation. Let us then be bold when an opportunity presents itself and “cast the net”.
When Jesus called Peter, James and John they were WASHING their nets (Luke 5:2). A dirty net will frighten the fish away, so the net must be kept clean. The person God wants to use must have a clean life. There is no substitute for a life of consistent integrity. In Psalm 51 we read how King David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O, God.....restore unto me the joy of thy salvation....then will I teach transgressors thy ways and sinners shall be converted unto thee”.
Then we read that James and John were MENDING their nets (Mark 1:19). Their nets had been damaged, making holes through which fish could escape. The “holes” in our “nets” can be the result of broken relationships or inconsistencies in our lifestyle that can hinder an effective witness.
How then can we all become God’s fishermen? Let us ask the Lord to give us His love for people for whom Jesus died and for opportunities to share our faith with someone else. Then let us MEND the net, CLEAN the netand CAST the net, praying that the power of God will draw people to Himself through our efforts. What a joy it is when someone we have shared the gospel with finds a new life in Christ. Amen! 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  For many years, he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.