Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.
Just to set the scene, Jesus had been crucified, died & was buried…
Then just as He had said He would, He rose from the dead on the 3rd day & He appeared to His followers.
As you might imagine, the events of the previous days had really put the disciples into a whirlwind.
I can just imagine that they were bewildered, unsure & confused.
I imagine they were reeling from the past weeks events.
I imagine they were trying to sort out of all of the things Jesus had said to them over the past 3 years.
So, Peter decides he needs to get away from it all & he leans into an activity he knows well.
Peter says, “I’m going fishing” (v.3)
The rest of the disciples who are with Peter said, “We’re going with you.” (v.3)
But, they soon experienced frustration.
They went out in their boat & they didn’t catch a thing & they fished all night!
That’s one of the reasons I don’t fish… the only thing I usually catch is a sunburn.
Now, you have to remember these men were seasoned fishermen.
And, they were fishing @ night which was the “prime” time to fish on the sea of Galilee.
There was a lot of uncertainty in Peter’s life, but fishing was one thing he was still certain of.
He knew how to catch fish… but on this particular night… he caught nothing.
There are times when we get discouraged because we’re not catching any fish.
It’s easy to get discouraged when nothing is happening.
Discouragement is one of Satan’s greatest weapons.
He knows that nothing will stop us in our tracks more than the feeling of discouragement.
At times, we feel like the disciples did in this story.
Tired, weary & without a shred of evidence that our efforts have had any effect, we get discouraged.
- Jesus on the shore
Now they’d fished all night & when the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach… but they didn’t recognize Him.
Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”
Maybe the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus because it was still mostly dark or maybe a mist somewhat obscured their vision of Jesus… or His identity was kept from them knowing…
All the disciples hear is someone calling from the shore, “Got Fish?”
The response: “They answered, ‘No.’”
In this sin darkened world, we are like them.
We bob around in our little boat of life & Jesus asks us the question to us… Got fish?Are you catching any fish?
Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.
Is anyone being saved because of your efforts?
Is anyone being saved because of your witness?
Is anyone being saved because of your prayers on their behalf?
III. What was the problem?
Let’s diagnose the problem, was it …
As far as I can tell, there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with the boat.
The boat represents the physical plant.
Today it is cold outside & warm inside.
Our church is well lit & the pews are comfortably padded… & there are more modifications on the way… we are working from the ceiling down…
So next we hope to get a splash of paint, some stained-glass looking coverings for the windows… maybe one day some carpet…
But, failure to catch fish is not the fault of the boat.
Could the problem be with…
Peter & the disciples were fishing with a net…
But what do we fish with?
The Good News from God’s Word!
The Gospel is Good News…
And what is the Good News?
Jesus died for us, He paid the penalty for our sin…
we are free from that penalty…
So, there’s nothing wrong with the net…
Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes…” (NLT)
Could the problem have been…
Was it the place where they were fishing?
Not at all!
A little later, Jesus helps them catch a whole net full of fish.
In fact, they caught so many they couldn’t haul the net into the boat.
v.10 says that “there were 153 large fish…”
Not just fish… very large fish!
And the Good News is that v.10 says with this huge haul of fish, the net held them & was not torn.
What about us?
Is there a problem with the place we are fishing?
Are there no people around us who need Jesus?
Are there no souls in our world who are lost?
Is everyone in our life doing so well that they don’t have a need for a Savior?
Jesus said in John 4:35 “…But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.” (NLT)
Do you remember the 1st time the disciples caught a great amount of fish & Jesus was with them in the boat?
But this time… after the resurrection…
Jesus is not with them in the boat, but He is close by on the shore…
Do you see the connection to us?
this time the disciples caught a great amount of fish due to Jesus’ instruction & He wasn’t even in the boat.
We don’t have the luxury of Jesus being physically in our boat, but we do have the luxury of Him being able to give us direction from the shore through His Holy Spirit… that’ll preach…
If it’s not the boat, or the net, or the location, then what is the problem?
It must be the crew!
Scripture tells us who was on the crew that morning…
As we look @ each crew member, maybe you will be able to identify which member of the crew most resembles your life… unless of course, your boat is full of fish!
The 1st crew member is…
Up until this point, Peter was vacillating & inconsistent.
I’m here to tell you he was up & then he was down.
He was brave one minute & cowardly the next.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Peter pulled a sword on one of the dudes who came to arrest Jesus & he chopped off dude’s ear… I’d say that was an act of courage.
But just hours later, as he warmed his hands by a fire, Peter is intimidated by a teenage girl when she tells everyone within earshot that Peter was one of Jesus’ followers… Peter denies he even knows Jesus!
It is hard to be a “fisher of men” when your walk is inconsistent.
It is hard to be a “fisher of men” if your talk doesn’t match your walk.
James 3:10 “And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (NLT)
People are looking for the real thing… people you know…
And it breaks my heart for some of the places they are looking for the real thing & not finding it…
So, if the faith you profess with your mouth doesn’t match words that come out of your mouth… can we blame someone for not wanting to follow Jesus?
How can we catch any fish if in one sentence we’re talking about God or church or our faith & the next sentence is gossip, caustic, critical, condescending… destructive, damning or demeaning?
Does your talk match your walk?
How can we expect to catch fish if our actions don’t measure up to the things we say?Let’s look at Crew Member #2:
Thomas “The doubter”
When we are paralyzed by doubts, it is hard for us to catch fish.
Doubts caused Thomas to be discouraged, hesitant to believe, pessimistic & slow to commit his life totally to Jesus.
There is no room for doubt or a lack of commitment if you want to catch fish.
If someone like Thomas isn’t “all in”, why would that entice anyone else to go “all in” with Jesus?
It’s not the boat. It’s not the net. It’s not the place. It is us!
I’ll use him as an example of “The Critic”.
John 1:45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.’
v. 46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
The Message Paraphrase says it this way, “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding!!!”
You ever focus on what is wrong instead of what is right?
Proverbs tells us that our words have the power of life & death.
So, are you giving the power or life or death with your words?
Do you feel it is your responsibility to point it out when something is wrong?
After all, don’t we want things to be right?
If you aren’t sure if you are like Nathaniel, just ask someone close to you & if they’re honest, they’ll tell you if you fit the profile…
The Sons of Zebedee
Jesus called them the sons of Thunder, Mark 3:17
This was probably descriptive of their dispositions.
James was self-centered & had an attitude of “What’s in it for me?”
Mark 10:35 “Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to Him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do us a favor.’” (NLT)
They said to Jesus, “We want you to do for us what we ask.”
One wanted to be on His right hand and the other on His left hand when Jesus would takeover & become King.
How many people… without being prompted… would say, “I’m a selfish person”?
Most of us don’t think we’re selfish, but it is much more present in our lives than it is absent if we are completely honest…
Our speech reveals to everyone else who we’re thinking about.
Measure your words & you’ll find out if you are.
Watch how many of your sentences start with I.
How many of them have me, my, or mine in them.
John was vindictive – Luke 9:54
“When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, ‘Lord, should we call down fire from heavan to burn them up?’” (NLT)
Intolerant – Mark 9:38
“John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.’” (NLT)
John didn’t like anyone who was “Not one of us”.
Bigotry. Chauvinism. Prejudice.
Exclusive, not inclusive.
He kept people at an arms length.
When someone wanted to talk to Jesus, I think John was the 1st to turn them down & turn them away.
People who are more concerned with social status & prominence than they are in serving God or serving their spouse or serving their children.
I’m talking about people who are more concerned about what other people think than what God thinks about them.
Nothing turns people off more than when we are exclude others…
And yet Jesus never excluded others… He always included….
He always made time for anyone…
The other two disciples
Who were they?
Their names are not given, but I’ve figured it out.
After much “cogitation”, the other 2 disciples are… you & me.
These other 2 disciples were apparently just along for the boat ride.
They were neutrals.
They were not anti-fishermen, but just sort of there…
Churches are full of folks who are just in the boat… along for the ride…
The Laodicean Church is called lukewarm in Rev. 3:14.
They were just along for the boat ride.
“I know your works, neither hot nor cold – I will spew you out of my mouth”. Could I paraphrase it this way?
Since you catch no fish, get out of the boat!
V. What if fishing just isn’t our thing?
Isn’t fishing the job of the missionary, the pastor or the leaders of the church?
The Great commandment
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The Great Commandment is not The Great Suggestion…
It is a direct order.
We are to bring people to Jesus…
We are to be a multiplying church…
What is the price of disobedience?
James 4:17 “Anyone who knows the right thing to do and don’t do it, is sinning.” (NCV)
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (NASB)
In other words, you shall catch fish… & you won’t be able to do it on your own power… you’re going to need Jesus on the shore telling you what to do when you’re in the boat… you’re going to need His Spirit giving you the words… the courage… the timing… the person… the location… the net… the crew… to get the job done…
It doesn’t fall on you… it’s all on the Lord… you just have to be willing…
Have you been catching fish?
Have you even been fishing?
If you think about it, even the thief on the cross, witnessed to the other criminal being crucified…
Basically he says, you & I have done wrong… but Jesus has done no wrong.
We’re getting what we deserve… don’t you fear God?
He called out the other guy… challenged him to get right with God…
Then he asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus entered His kingdom…
Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
That is one way to witness… call people out…
But one of the most effective ways is to simply share your story…
If you share what God has done in your life & how your life has changed in 2-3 minutes, who can argue with that?
I think the power of your story is the most powerful sermon anyone would ever hear… just share with others how your life has been transformed…
Talk about what your life was like “B.C.” – Before Christ….
Talk about how you met Christ & maybe even a little about the person who drew you to Him & then what your life has been like since…
A real life before and after… a real life makeover…
And who knows your story better than you?
Can you remember your story?
You don’t have to memorize your story, do you?
You know it… but it might take a little thought…
Think about how you can share all of this in about 2 minutes… practice it on someone in your family or a fellow Christ follower…
You can join Becky’s Sunday School class who is going through the book, “Purple fish” which basically talks about this way to share your faith…
Then, if someone wants to give their life to Christ… just tell them the ABC’s…
Admit they’ve blown it… that they’ve sinned against God & others…
Believe that Jesus died to take away the penalty for their sin…
Confess to others what Jesus has done… that’s witnessing… that’s simply what you just did with them!
If you want, you can also use the Bridge method…
My final question this morning for you is the most obvious… Got fish?