Matthew 4:19, 20… Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Over the summer months, we have been blogging about discipleship and what it means to follow Jesus as His disciple. We have been looking at a phrase or a word that Jesus spoke regarding the new “calling” He was placing on His disciples in Matthew 4. Jesus was preparing to turn these ordinary tradesmen into missionaries and evangelists for God’s Kingdom. Jesus was planting “seeds” of purpose in their lives before He began to train and teach them to “go” into the world to make disciples. He was telling them that He would in fact change their habits, lifestyles, careers and direction, and give them a new purpose and destination.
What did Jesus mean by the phrase, “fish for people”? Certainly, Jesus didn’t mean to “catch” people or capture them in some way, nor did He mean to force or coerce people into following Him. Jesus always gave people a choice to follow and believe or walk away by their own free will. I think what Jesus was saying to His disciples and says to us today through the scriptures is that we are to be ready at all times to share the hope we have in Jesus and tell our story of transformation. I think Jesus wanted His disciples to be more aware of the people who were around them, taking time to discover and uncover needs, hurts, struggles and questions, and then be prepared to serve them in some way.
This is our calling as modern-day disciples of Jesus… to be aware of those around us, to connect with them in conversation and discover ways we can serve them. In doing so, we will also be able to determine whether they are “people of peace”; people who are receptive and open to talking about God and the life of faith. More importantly, people who might be accepting of talking about Jesus! These are the people we need to “fish for”, and they could be our neighbors, our family and friends or they could be a stranger at the grocery store or a server at your favorite restaurant. It is important that we keep our eyes wide open and our ears attuned to the Holy Spirit gently nudging us to speak up and connect with those around us. Don’t be afraid, God is with you!