Matthew 4:18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
This passage is descriptive of Jesus recruiting the first of his disciples as part of His strategy for fulfilling His mission here on earth. A disciple is somebody who strongly believes in the teachings of a leader, a philosophy, or a religion, and tries to act according to them. The key in this definition is that “they try to act according to what they have been taught”. Jesus in this passage is calling Peter, Andrew, John and James to become fishers of men. He is taking their natural skills and transferring it into the realm of salvation. He spoke in their vernacular when he called them to be his disciples.
If Jesus wanted them to do what he did, then we must ask the question: “What did Jesus do to fish for men?” The best way to train someone in anything is to have them participating with you while you do it. So having called these men to follow him and become a fisher of men we can see what Jesus immediately did by continuing to read Matthew 4.
Matthew 4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
Jesus did three things: taught in the synagogues, preached the good news of the kingdom, and healed the sick. As I said to train disciples we must have them participate in what we are doing. Jesus empowered his disciples to do what he had been doing:
1. Engage people where they gather,
2. Share the message of the kingdom of God,
3. Demonstrate it by setting people free from demons and diseases.
We can see this in effect in Luke 9 and 11 where he sent out the 12 and then the 72.
Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
This was the main and plain of being a fisher of men as Jesus taught and demonstrated. He passed it on to his disciples, and not just the 12, but to 72, and most like more.
If we aren’t getting results when we go fishing, maybe the problem is we aren’t where the fish are or we are using the wrong bait. It’s not the church but the kingdom. It’s not in words only but in the demonstration of power. Then we will be “fishers of men”.