By Dr. Richard B. W. Ing
March 6, 2005
After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, He went into the wilderness and fasted and prayed for forty days and nights. When He returned, He was tempted by the Devil. After he succeeded in resisting the Devil, He left Nazareth and went to Galilee and as He was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw Peter and Andrew casting a net into the sea. Mt. 4:18. “And He saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Mt. 4:19. And so Peter and Andrew, and later James and John who were also fishermen followed Jesus. So began the ministry of Jesus.
At the very end of His time and ministry on earth and after He had completed His task, Jesus was about to go back to heaven. He told His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Mt. 28:19. In Mark 16:15, Jesus said to them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
And so Jesus had fulfilled what He had told Peter and Andrew at the very beginning: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” But this time, Jesus called all believers to go out into the world and become fishers of men. Therefore, the Church is actually a group of fishermen.
THE PARABLE OF THE FISHERMEN
(This parable is taken out of an article published by Jack Chick. I have taken the liberty to add and change it a little.)
There was once a group of people who called themselves fishermen. They were followers of the Master Fisherman who taught them everything about how to fish. Before he left, the Master told them to go and catch fish. There were many fish in the waters all around them. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish and the fish were hungry.
So these so-called fishermen got together year after year and met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how to fish. Soon, they knew many things about the different kinds of fish, what kind of bait to use, what kind of equipment was available and where to fish.
After a while, they invited knowledgeable speakers who could teach about fish and fishing and spent lots of money sponsoring seminars and conferences for fishermen. They even sponsored and attended national and worldwide fishing seminars, conferences and congresses to talk about fishing and to promote and hear about all the ways of fishing.
Then, these fishermen collected money and planned and constructed large buildings called “Fishing Headquarters,” or “Fishing Centers.” They called everyone to be a fisherman and that everyone should fish. They outfitted everyone with bait, equipment, techniques, knowledge about various fishes and so forth.
But nobody bothered to fish.
They organized a fishing board to send out fishermen to where there were many fish, even though there were many hungry fish in their own backyards. The board was formed by those of great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing and to promote the idea of fishing in far away streams and lakes where many other fishes of different colors lived.
The board hired staffs and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish, neither in the streams and lakes that surrounded them nor in far away places.
Expensive training centers were built to teach fishermen how to fish. Those who taught went to fishing colleges and had doctorates in fishology, but never fished themselves. They only taught fishing. Year after year, graduates were sent to do full-time fishing, some to distant waters filled with fish. Further, the fishing centers built large printing houses to publish fishing guides. A speaker’s bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on the subject of fishing.
Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded, and were sent to fish, but like the fishermen back home, they never fished. They just set up fishing schools, fishing colleges and fishing headquarters or centers wherever they were sent.
Some said they wanted to be part of the fishing party, but they felt that they were only called to furnish fishing equipment and bait. So, they stayed in their comfortable homes and donated money or provided equipment to the fishing headquarters. Others felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. So they just befriended the fish and never caught them.
Others felt that they were called to support the printing houses, training centers and board, but they were not called to fish. They were only called to attend meetings.
After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity for Fishing,” a young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported that he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it. So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.
Another man also caught a number of fish. He was immediately offered the job of general manager of the fishing center and association. He became so busy taking care of the other fisherman that he did not have any time to go fishing.
Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished.
They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishermen”? Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who didn’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if year after year he never catches a fish?
So, the question is - have you ever caught fish? Do you continue to catch fish? Are you really a fisherman? If not, maybe you’re playing the game called “fishiosity.”
The next question is - are you really a fisher of men? If you truly follow Jesus, the Bible says that you will end up fishing for men.
If you do not go fishing and catch anyone, do you really follow Jesus? God knows the answer. Do you? If you don’t, you may be playing the game called “churchiosity,” or “religiosity.”
HELL’S BEST KEPT SECRET
Ray Comfort wrote a book entitled Hell’s Best Kept Secret. He says that Satan is happy to allow you to play church. He’s not afraid of Christians who never fish for men and he spends lots of time deceiving people into playing church. So long as a Christian never fishes for men, Satan is not worried about him. You can pray all the time, read the Bible daily, feed the poor and go to church twice a week, but are you a fisher of men? You see, Satan thinks he owns the fish and the streams and lakes and wherever the fishes are. He plans to have things stay that way for a long time - eternity.
Satan’s deception is so deep and cunning that he lets you think that you are a great Christian because you attend church every week, give generous donations to the church and even support the fishing centers in different ways. But you miss the greatest command and desire of Jesus Christ - for us to be fishers of men. The Lord is looking for true followers and all He gets is a bunch of make-believe fishermen.