While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
(Matthew 4:18-20 ESV)
Today we read about Jesus calling the first two of His eventual twelve apostles. In that day rabbis had disciples – men who followed them and learned from them. But it was the students who sought out the teacher they wanted to learn from. So it’s very interesting that Jesus went and called His own disciples.
It is not in man’s nature to seek God the way we seek what the world has to offer. We chase after money, education, and pleasure, among other things. But we don’t pursue God. That is why God comes looking for us as He always has [Genesis 3:8-9]. He knows that what He has to offer is infinitely and eternally more important than anything we can find on earth.
Notice that Jesus’ invitation to these men was to follow Him. He didn’t begin His relationship with them by calling them “sinners” (although they were) or by critiquing their lifestyle. He knew He had something beneficial to offer them but that they would not accept it if it was offered confrontationally.
Instead Jesus invited them into His life so they could learn what He was about. He spent time with them so they could see God through Him. This is the same way we (God’s children through faith [John 1:12]) should approach evangelism. We should not be judgmental or confrontational. We need to create relationships with others through which they can see Christ in our lives.
But notice something more. Jesus’ invitation was accompanied by a promise. If these men followed then Jesus would make [them] fishers of men. Jesus offered something. He offered to change their lives by making them more fulfilling because they would be doing something more important. No longer would they simply catch fish. They would now catch men and they themselves would change the lives of the men they caught. God wants us to do things that are more important than anything we could do on our own.
God could easily accomplish all He wants without us. He is omnipotent. But He invites us to participate with Him, just like angels, who were created before us, participate with Him in our lives. By doing so He develops us into what He wants us to be [Romans 8:29].
But this comes at a cost. We must leave our old life behind. Notice that Peter and Andrew left their nets and followed [Jesus]. Fishing was their business. It sustained them and their families. Leaving that behind was a big risk. But we can’t become more if we hold on to what is less.
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