Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
27 August 2005
Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men
Just before He returned to heaven, Jesus gave us what we call the Great Commission which states: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
The central core of the purpose of the church is outlined in these verses.
Here we discover that the three components of the Great Commission are; Evangelize, Incorporate and Disciple.
First, Jesus says “go, therefore and make disciples of all nations.”
We have to reach them with the gospel, we have to evangelize.
The second thing Jesus says that we must do is “… baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
In the command to “baptize” we see the importance of not only reaching the lost with the message of the Gospel but the need of incorporating these new believers into the body of Christ.
The final part of the Great Commission could be called discipleship, “… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”
The word “teaching” here means “instruction.”
This is to be instruction in “observing” or “keeping” the commands of Christ.
That raises a question in my mind: “But just what is it that we are to teach these new believers in Christ?”
In a sense, discipleship is helping someone become conscious of “all those things commanded by Christ?”
Jesus’ first command is found in Matthew 4:17, which is “Repent for the kingdom of God is at Hand.”
Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, led a crusade in Australia during the spring of 1996.
At one of the invitations, a fifteen-year-old boy told a counselor he came forward because, as he said, “I haven’t been decent to Jesus.”
Repentance starts with a confession that we “haven’t been decent to Jesus.”
When it comes to repenting of our sins, our greatest struggle may come after we have repented.
I’ll illustrate what I mean with a story I read.
Gary Richmond gained an interesting perspective on snakes while working with a snake handler at a zoo.
The curator was joined by Richmond and three other professionals as they milked the venom of a king cobra.
The tension was high because of the deadly potential.
The man noted that in Africa, several elephants die every year as a result of the king cobra.
While clenching the snake’s neck, the curator explained the need for milking the cobra as quickly as possible because “no man could ever survive a bite from a full load of venom.”
The snake’s venom glands contain enough poison to kill one thousand adults.
Once the rags were saturated with the lethal venom and they were ready to release the snake, this skilled curator gave a profound warning.
He cautioned the others and said, “More people are bitten trying to let go of snakes than when they grab them.”
When it comes to repenting of our sins, we frequently find the greatest struggle occurs after the repentance instead of before.
This lesson about snakes helps us understand why.
When we try to turn loose of Satan he will quickly lunge at us with a full load of venom.
Like the wise snake handler, be cautious and aware.
Now We Need To Consider His Second Command which Is: “Follow Me And I Will Make You Fishers of Men” (Matt 4:18)
Today, we want to turn to Matthew 4:18 and find the second command of Christ.
(18) “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen
(19) Then he said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
(20) And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
Now, I want to call your attention to these words of verse 19, “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
The command “follow me” is simple to understand; it simply means that “your place is following after me.”
Joseph Stowell (pastor of the Moody Church) identified the problem of the modern church well when he said, “We have become quite happy to call ourselves Christians with little or no thought of following.”
Paul Harvey said, “We have drifted away from being fishers of men to being keepers of the aquarium.”
In seeking to understand this command I want us to ask and answer five questions?
1. What Does it Mean To Follow Jesus?
“Follow me” is not the invitation to be saved; it is the call of the believer to service.
It is no small decision to follow Jesus.
It is possible to have heard the Lord’s teaching and still not be a disciple, to be a camp-follower without being a soldier, to be a hanger-on in some great work without pulling one’s weight.
To follow Christ means to set aside our own goals and pleasures and to embrace the purposes for which God created us.
Those purposes are: to know Him in a personal way and to make disciples of others by teaching them all of Christ’s commands.
All those who truly follow Christ must exchange their affections, goals, and priorities for His.
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew their goal was to be successful fishermen.
In asking them to forsake this goal, he commanded them to follow Him and He would “make them fishers for men’s souls.”
Jesus did not simply command His disciples to become fishers of men, but rather He promised to make them fishers of men.
2. How does Fishing for Men Relate to Following Christ?
I heard a cute little story that can be applied here.
It seems the pastor was presenting his sermon on evangelism to the children.
He had a fishing pole and had already talked about different types of bait that will attract fish.
He then turned to the Lord’s proclamation for each of us to be fishers of men.
Looking for an answer from the children, he asked, “If I was going to fish for men, what kind of bait do you think I should use?”
Without hesitation, a young boy shouted out, “Donuts!”
The common image of a fisherman in our day is of a man with a fishing pole casting a lure into the waters of a stream or a lake.
However, such was not the case when Jesus called his disciples.
They caught fish with nets and by experience, they found that their best fishing took place at night.
We know that this is true by looking at Luke 5:5; when Jesus told Peter to cast his nets on the other side of the boat he said, “Master we have toiled all night and caught nothing never-the-less at your word I will let down the net.”