“Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” Matthew 4:19
Many years ago when I read this verse the Lord seemed to impress me that this was His promise to me personally. Consequently, since that time, I have made decisions and choices with that promise in the back of my mind. In the Lord’s grace I have been able to witness a number of people receive Christ as Lord and Saviour and be a part of that process.
The other end of the “bookend” in Matthew is making disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. That too has been one of life’s highlights. There is no greater joy than this but it still falls short of the joy that ensues from a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
These many years later my heart longs even more for that promise to be fulfilled and to obey Him in making disciples. The fact is that these statements of Jesus are just that; statements of fact and not promises.
As with much of the Bible’s teaching there are conditions to meet before the Lord fulfils His word. In this case it is our responsibility to follow Him as a disciple, learning from the Master, going with the Master and obeying the Master just as the twelve did so long ago. As we follow Him He will fulfil His part and bring in the “catch.”
How is it that most people who claim to be Christians rarely if ever experience the “catch?” Since Jesus is faithful to His word the answer must lie in our following.
After Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead He reminded His disciples that He had told them He would meet them in Galilee. When they eventually arrived in Galilee at least seven of the disciples decided to go fishing (John 21:2, 3). At least four of them were seasoned fishermen who knew how and when to catch fish. The fact that they caught nothing had nothing to do with their knowledge or skill. They caught nothing because they were not following Jesus.
Many of us who have fished all day or night and caught nothing have some idea how they felt. They didn’t need anyone to rub it in so Jesus’ question, “Children, have you any food” must have hurt as they responded with a quiet, “No.”
Though they were past the time and not in the right place to catch fish Jesus told them to cast their net over the right hand side of the boat and He affirmed that if they did, they would have a catch. Perhaps somewhat dispirited they grudgingly agreed and cast the net. In total amazement they found their net full to breaking. What was the difference? The difference was that they were following Jesus’ word and command.
We are inclined to think that we will please the Lord with a catch of our own. However, just like the disciples, we cannot make a catch unless we are acting in and under the authority of Jesus. We may think that with our training and experience we can win souls to Christ but we cannot. When we listen to Jesus and obey His word He will ensure a catch.
One who “follows” Jesus is one who listens carefully to His word and does as He says. If we do not experience the wonder and joy of making disciples and witnessing people receive Jesus Christ, it may be because we are following the disciples’ example and not following Jesus Himself.