I am going to try to get you to feel sorry for me this morning. I love to go fishing, but there are two things that keep me from fishing. Number one: There isn’t any good fishing in the immediate area. Number two: I just can’t seem to find the time to go where the fish are. I probably won’t even buy a license this year. Why spend money on something you cannot use? Even though I do not get to fish much, I still remember that you have to do some things in order to even have a chance of catching a fish. You have to select the right bait for the fish. You have to assemble your gear correctly. You put on the bait, and then you cast into the water. The order of things is very important. I want to spend a few minutes this morning talking about the right order when it comes to answering the call of Jesus. In our story, the men are being called to be fishers of men. But you may be being called to salvation this morning (gospel presentation). Believers do not often realize that Christ calls each one of us to serve Him in some fashion after our salvation. Or maybe Jesus is calling you to serve Him in a greater way than you already are. No matter the extent of the call this morning, it is important to consider the order of things. Before we consider the order of events this morning, I want you to see something about these fishermen that were called to be fishers of men. They were busy when Jesus called them. It is important to be busy as you are waiting for the call. I also want to emphasize that the main thrust of this passage is a call to be fishers of men. That means that their primary task is to tell others about Christ, and to see them saved. And then to watch them become fishers of men, etc. In our society we are continually bombarded with ways to make ourselves fishers of men. We have books, tapes, seminars, conferences, etc. Which are all designed to make us fishers of men. I recall a fairly recent meeting I was in and the man kept saying, “If you use the program correctly, you will be successful.” Maybe I will and maybe I won’t. I do know this about what the Bible says. I must rely on Jesus Christ to make me a fisher of men, not what some well meaning believer teaches me to do.
1. We must be willing to forsake. Just about any time you see Christ calling someone to come after Him, there is the idea of forsaking something involved (family, friends, possessions, beliefs). To forsake means to desert or abandon. To sever all ties. I like to use the term burning bridges. I have seen in my short time as a believer that many men fail in their service to God because they fall back on what is familiar. These men were fishermen, and we can say that all they knew was fishing. That was their livelihood. But if Jesus is going to make anything out of us, we must be willing to forsake some things. I think a good illustration of this is found in John 21. This is a post resurrection story, Peter had decided to go fishing again. Jesus arrives on the shore and says have ye any meat? They answered No, and then He told them to cast the net out again. There were 153 fish in the net, and when they got back to shore, the disciples saw that Jesus had fire going, and there was fish and bread to eat. Now recall the words of Jesus as He gives Peter some last words of instruction.
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. People always try to explain what the these are. This is how I see things. Do you love me more than the comfort of this fire? Do you love me more than the contentment of this food? Do you love me more than the companionship of friends? Do you love me enough to place your confidence in me, and not fall back into being a fisherman? If we are going to get anywhere with God, we have to be willing to forsake.
2. We must be willing to follow. To go after or behind, but in the same direction. Some people like to lead more than like to follow. Those who try to get out ahead of God will lose their way. I like the OT examples we have in learning to follow.
Exodus 13:21-22 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. How do we know which way to go? How do we no how fast to go? What will we do at night? Why haven’t we done this yet? I have never been there before.
We think following is activity, or forward movement. Rest time. Why isn’t this happening? If we are still following the cloud then it is okay. In the Book of Joshua, the children of Israel were getting ready to go into Canaan. They were told to follow the Ark. When they followed, they were able to see what was ahead. So pastor, we do not have the cloud, or pillar of fire, or the ark. How do we follow God?
Psalms 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.
Psalms 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
One of the buzz phrases of our day is the self made man. Self made business man, self made millionaire. God is not looking for self made men, He is looking for men that forsake and follow, then He promises to make us. When we allow things to get out of order than we run the danger of being self made fishers of men, or self made called of God, and we know there can be no power in that.