Straight away Jesus called followers and explicitly stated in his invitation, Come follow me and I will send you out to fish for people. This story is set among fishermen and so Jesus used this fishing metaphor as an image to help them understand how people would be drawn to join his family. Jesus was gathering a crew to become part of God’s family involved in the family fishing business. With Jesus, once you were “caught”, you joined the crew and were given the task of catching others.
The way of becoming a disciple/follower of Jesus is described in these verses: Repent, Believe the good news, Come follow me, and Sent to fish for people. This call is a challenge and not all who hear it respond positively.
The call to repent can be an affront to people. Repentance is admitting you are wrong and admitting guilt. It is not only confessing sin, but admitting you are a sinner. But part of our human problem is that we tend to evade, to deny, to dodge, to blame rather than to repent. To repent is to change our way of life, to change our orientation from ourselves towards God so we can honestly pray to God, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
Believing the good news is also challenging. Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus the prophet Isaiah wrote about him asking, “Who has believed our message? (Isaiah 53:1) This question seems just as relevant today! A suffering, rejected messiah, pierced for our sins and crushed for our evil – is an incredible story which, in human terms, is hard to believe. That God would humble himself and come in human flesh allowing himself to be subject to our inhumanity towards him is an extraordinary story of amazing grace. Later Jesus would put a question of belief to his disciples challenging them. But what about you? Who do you say I am? Peter answered, You are the Christ. (Mark 8:29) Peter’s belief in Jesus changed him. Peter would later challenge others saying, Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2:38) In Jesus’ day, and in our day, many people simply don’t, can’t or won’t believe this good news. However, I think people may be more open to considering this if they have a friend or family member who could draw alongside them, be an example of this amazing grace in action and with gentle clarity have a spiritual conversation.
If you are already part of Jesus’ family, why did he choose you? We might answer because he loves you and wants you to be with him through eternity. While that is true, our reading today gives a different and more challenging answer. He chose you to send you on a fishing trip to be fishers of people. How we fulfil our mission may differ from person to person using your personality, skills and gifts, but one thing we have in common is that we are all sent to fish for people. Perhaps as we leave church today we should put a sign on the door – Gone Fishing!
Do you share Jesus’ sense of urgency about God’s kingdom mission?
What part do you take in the family business of fishing for people?
Rev John Malcolm