Did you know that the first disciples that Jesus called were fishermen? They didn’t fish for enjoyment, and it wasn’t just a hobby. They fished because that is how they made their living, so it was important whether they caught fish or not. They needed to catch and sell fish, so they had money to live.
Our Bible lesson this week is from Luke 5:1-11 and is about a miraculous fishing trip. The story begins with Jesus preaching on the shore beside the sea of Galilee. Jesus had become very popular, so there was a huge crowd of people gathered around Him, and they kept pressing closer, so that they could hear Him better. Jesus noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge where the fishermen were washing, drying, and putting away their nets. Jesus stepped into one of the boats and asked the boats’ owner, Simon Peter, to move it out a little further from the shore. Then Jesus sat down in the boat and preached to the people from there. The open air and water helped to magnify His voice and keep the people back.
When Jesus had finished teaching, He said to Simon Peter, “Move on out into the deep water and let down your nets down again to catch some fish.” But Simon Peter answered Him, “We have fished all night without catching a thing, but if You say so, I will let down my nets again.” This time the nets were so full of fish that they began to break. Simon Peter had to call his fishing partners James and John to help get the nets aboard, and soon both boats were so full of fish that they were about to sink.
When Simon Peter saw what had happened, he was filled with awe and perhaps a little afraid to be in the presence of someone with so much power. He fell on his knees before Jesus and said, “Leave me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
Jesus said to him, “Don’t be afraid because from now on, you will fish for men and women.” When they got back to shore, Peter, James, and John pulled their boats up on the beach, left their boats and nets, and followed Jesus.
What did Jesus mean when He told them they would be fishing for men and women? Obviously, He didn’t mean that they would go out and throw a net over them. What He meant was that just as they had been bringing the fish into their boats, they would now be bringing people into the Kingdom of God. Jesus wants you and me to be fishers of people too. That means that we will tell the people we meet about Jesus, so that they can know Him and become His followers too. Jesus wants us to serve Him, trust Him, and never be afraid to obey Him. It might sound scary to try to tell someone about Jesus, but He will give us the words we need to say to them. A good start may be just to smile and say hello to someone or invite them to go to church with you. Jesus will help you when the time is right, and you can be fishers of people too!
Let’s say our prayer for the week. Heavenly Father, just as Jesus called His early disciples to fish for people, He has called us to tell others about His love, so that we might bring them into the Kingdom. Help us to be faithful to become fishers of people just like the first disciples. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Ann Moody is a retired pastor, formerly of the Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.