By Pastor Timothy Johnson
My father-in-law was an avid fisherman. It was not uncommon to find him gutting and scaling dozens of fish in the backyard. He chose to retire near a river known for excellent fishing.
My father-in-law took me fishing on several occasions, but I never caught a fish. Here is this man who usually comes home with a dozen or more fish in the cooler. When he took me with him, he always came home empty. On the way home on our last fishing escapade, he drove into a fast-food restaurant, bought two fish sandwiches, and told me, “This is the only way I can get a fish with you around.”
With all that said, Jesus told us that He would make us “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17).
Fishing for men is attempting to bring people to Jesus, leading people to salvation through the blood of Christ. Fishing for fish can feed us physically, but fishing for men can spiritually change others for eternity.
When I was younger, it seemed like someone was knocking on the door all the time — salespeople of all types. I once bought a set of encyclopedias because I loved the woman’s British accent. My wife still will not let me live that down, but I digress. Salespeople, political pollsters, church people, and others would come by wanting to sell something, seeking your opinion, or attempting to share the news of their church or religion. However, today, no one knocks on our door anymore.
One of the symbols of Christianity is the fish. The fish symbol covers the walls of the catacombs in Rome. Christians were known as fishers of men.
We are still fishers of men, but our tactics have changed from earlier centuries. Many Christians today attempt to lead people to the Saviour by their Christian testimony. Suppose we could live a righteous life, similar to Christ, as much as possible. If the world could see that we are different, they would ask us about our beliefs, and then we could invite them to church so they can hear the gospel. Christians today tend to believe living a righteous life will bring the masses to Christ.
Let us assume millions of Christians are walking around living righteous lives and performing miracles as Jesus did.
The feeding of the five thousand is a well-known miracle. Christ preached all day, well into the evening, past supper time. Jesus noticed that no one was leaving. The crowd had been there all day, and they gave no indication they were going home any time soon. Concern grows that everyone should have something to eat. The only food the Apostles can find is five loaves of bread and “two small fishes.” Christ tells the Apostles to have everyone sit. John 6:10 tells us the number of the men was about five thousand. If there is one woman and one child with each man, the crowd numbered 15,000, not five thousand. Indeed, some men were there by themselves. Still, with the size of families in the first century, it is not inconceivable that the crowd could have numbered 30,000 – 50,000. Christ feeds this crowd with those five loaves and two fish. When everyone ate to their fill, there were 12 baskets of bread as leftovers (John 6:13).
How did this work out for Christ?
He left that night by ship. The following day, those fed discovered He was no longer there and set sail to find Him. They find Him. Once found, Christ is asked a fascinating question in John 6:30, “They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? What dost thou work?”
What sign do you show? He just fed thousands of people with the equivalent of one or two people’s lunch.
If Christ feeding the multitude did not bring people to saving faith, what makes us think that living a more righteous life will do so?
Maybe we need a more significant miracle.
Luke 16 tells the story of a man who dies and goes to hell. The man has five brothers still living and does not want them to join him in flames. The man pleads that God would send someone back from the dead, whom the brothers know, that could warn them of the judgment to come. What greater miracle could someone see than a person coming back from the grave? Regardless of the magnificence of the miracle, God tells the man, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
Again, a massive miracle, the raising of the dead, and God said that is not enough to get people to believe. Are we sure that this “being a godly example” thing will work?
God told the man in hell his brothers needed Moses and the prophets to believe. In other words, they needed the Scripture.
My father-in-law explained that I needed to use a particular type of bait to catch specific fish.
The bait needed to catch men is the Word of God. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Do not get me wrong, a good testimony from the messenger is usually needed for others to listen to the gospel. Most people do not see a reason to listen to those living like the devil when they talk about God. Living a righteous life goes a long way in how effective the Word can be, but how many Christians are fishing for men?
Genuine fishers use the proper bait. Are you a fisher of men? Christ said He would make you one. How often do you cast the Word of God into the sea of humanity?
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in northern Parke County, Indiana. Webpage: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com; email: [email protected]; address: 410 S. Jefferson St. Rockville IN 47872; all Bible references KJV. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.