When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! … And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus. [Luke 5:4-6,11 (NLT)]
Jesus may have been a carpenter by trade but He knew a great deal about fishing. Simon, James and John were certainly impressed with his guidance. Jesus, however, didn’t just know how to catch fish—He knew how to catch men! Abandoning their fish and boat, the three fishermen followed Jesus. No longer casting nets for tilapia, biny fish and sardines, they joined our Lord as He fished for people.
A good fisherman knows with what to bait his hook, where to throw in the nets or line, and how to bring in his catch. Jesus didn’t have to beg or force anyone to follow him. His message, demeanor, compassion, wisdom, miracles, truth and love all netted followers. Although He practiced what he preached, I’m not so sure His followers do so today.
In yesterday’s message, I wrote that the truth of the gospel message depends on the truth of Jesus and not on the good behavior of His followers. Nevertheless, while the truth of Christianity doesn’t hinge on our behavior, the expansion of God’s Kingdom does. When our behavior doesn’t reflect our God, we don’t make very good fishermen. Whenever we profess to love but have no compassion, claim to forgive but hold a grudge, speak of generosity but won’t open our wallets, give lip service to helping others but never serve, or speak of peace when being vindictive, we’re driving away rather than catching followers. Jesus gave His disciples the command to fish for men and grow His Kingdom. It’s not easy to do that when our nets have the holes of hypocrisy or our bait is tainted and false.
The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. [Brennan Manning]