by Nick Tucker – Associate Pastor – Youth and Service Experiences
Fish for People
When I was a sophomore in high school, I got really into a new hobby – fishing! I had fished occasionally, as a kid when I would be at the lake but didn’t fully know what I was doing. Every so often I would catch a fish, but didn’t know exactly how I did it. For all I knew, I just had to throw the hook in the water with a piece of lunch meat on it.
As I got more into fishing (bass fishing specifically), I started to do research and watch professionals talk about it on YouTube. I learned the patterns of weather, and when the prime fishing seasons were. I learned what color bait to throw in the water, how to tie knots that wouldn’t slip out, how to mimic certain species, so much went into understanding this new hobby of mine as a sophomore in high school.
Eventually, by the time I was in college, I like to think I had mastered the creeks and bodies of water in my hometown. I went fishing multiple times a day, continued to do research of the bodies of water nearby to me, but once I became a Christian as a Junior in high school, fishing took on a new meaning.
One of my absolute favorite spots in scripture comes from Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus calls His first disciples.
One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the waters edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.
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! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.
Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
We’ve all heard this story before, but I had an interesting thought with this idea of “Fishing for people.”
In bass fishing, it is all about throwing out lures and other baits that look like something the fish would naturally eat as prey. You can always throw out actual food and the fish will eat it, but I was more into the fishing with plastic lures. I was into the science and the way which fish naturally prey on other species.
I thought about this in light of the passage from Luke 5 and thought, “Hmm. So fishing for people means throwing out a lure that is compelling and convincing enough to catch someone.” Or in other words, tricking a person into biting. It makes sense considering the fishing we tend to know today, with fishing poles, and hooks and baits. However, this is not the method of fishing which Jesus was talking about when he called Simon, Andrew, James and John to follow them.
Fishing for the disciples was throwing out nets. They were not targeting a specific species of fish. They were simply casting their net wide to catch whatever number of fish they could catch. There were no tricks in it. It was simply just casting a net to catch as many fish as possible.
When Jesus said, “From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” think of what this means. This wasn’t just a call for the disciples. This is a call for us as well! Cast your net wide! Catch as many people as you can for the kingdom!
One of my favorite parts of fishing, was never the fish that I caught, or the science behind it that I learned, but it was teaching others to fish. The call for the disciples to fish for people didn’t mean for them to simply just catch and catch and catch, but meant for them to catch, and teach others to catch as well! There is something incredible that happens when you teach someone to catch their first fish, there is excitement, there is an addiction to it! I would dare say the same for fishing for people. It is exciting, its addicting, its emotional and what an honor it is to partner with God and fish for His kingdom.
I want to encourage you with this:
Think of the moment that you were “caught.” What was it that drew you in, what were the things that early on didn’t have you scared of where you were being pulled to, but excited about where God was leading. Fishing for people is one of the most exciting, exhilarating experiences and we have been called and invited by God to join him in the mission and journey of fishing for people so in the words of Jesus,
“Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!”
Fish for people. Cast your net far and wide. Get excited about the possibility of the catch of a lifetime!