I’ve never been much for fishing, but my wife is on the water with a fishing pole in her hands sunup to sundown every summer when we go to Lake Champlain. Judy knows what makes for good fishing: FISH!
What makes for good fishing is a body of water full of hungry fish.
Jesus said, “Come follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (and women)” (Matthew 4:19).
Do you know that here in the Capital Region of New York, the percentage of people that don’t know Jesus or care about Him is higher than that of any other region in the United States?
What that means is, THE FISHING IS REALLY GOOD HERE! As you’ve heard me say over the last few weeks in worship, I believe Jesus is speaking directly to Hope UMC when He says, “Come follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men and women.” Jesus is actively calling to the people of this congregation and inviting us to take Him at His word. He’s making a promise to us: “If you come to Me, I will make you fishers of men and women.”
Now, it’s one thing to ”know about” Jesus or “believe in” Jesus, but it’s another thing to “come to Him.” When we “come to Him,” we are:
CHOOSING DELIBERATELY, DAILY, AND ACTIVELY TO REMEMBER THAT JESUS IS ALWAYS WITH US,
CHOOSING DELIBERATELY, DAILY AND ACTIVELY TO ACKNOWLEDGE, ENTER INTO, AND ABIDE IN HIS PRESENCE, and
CHOOSING DELIBERATELY, DAILY, AND ACTIVELY TO YIELD ALL THAT WE HAVE AND ARE TO JESUS’ LORDSHIP.
When, day by day, we “come to Him” in this way, Jesus works in us and through us. He baptizes us in the Holy Spirit, and our lives become expressions of His life in the world in the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus leads, equips and empowers us to be His disciples; those who actively co-laborer with Him in the accomplishment of God’s plans and purposes in the world.
This is the promise Jesus makes to us: IF and WHEN we come to Him, HE will work through our lives to fish for men and women in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Simon and Andrew were casting a net into the sea when Jesus extended His invitation and promise to them. Fishing nets in those days were round, and weighted around the edges. Fishermen would throw them onto the water in such a way that the net spread out to its full circumference, and then sink into the water, gathering up fish.
What Jesus promised Simon and Andrew was that if they came to Him and accompanied Him (stayed with Him, deliberately, daily and actively), He would use their lives to gather lost souls into the Kingdom of heaven.
Notice that Jesus kept His promise! But it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, for three years, Simon and Andrew spent most of their time watching as Jesus did the fishing.
But after Jesus died and rose again and ascended into heaven, He poured out the Holy Spirit on Simon Peter and Andrew and all of those who had put their trust in Him. And on the Day of Pentecost, Peter had an astoundingly good day of fishing! “So those who received (Simon Peter’s) word were baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls” (Acts 2:41).
The fishing is really good here. If we take Jesus at His word, He will use our lives to gather souls into the Kingdom, too. He is pouring out the Holy Spirit on us so that He can use our lives, AND WORK THROUGH OUR CONGREGATION, to seek and save the lost.
But fishing—gathering lost souls into the Kingdom—is just the beginning. I’m coming to think of Jesus’ invitation and promise to us in Matthew 4:19 as the “front end” of the Great Commission. Before people can be baptized and taught to obey all that Jesus commanded, they need to be gathered out of the sea of death and darkness and into the Kingdom. But then they need to be welcomed and incorporated into the Body of Christ (baptism), and be formed and transformed by God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit (teaching). I’m thinking of this baptism and teaching process as the “midsection” of the Great Commission. And it can only happen in the lives of newly saved believers when people who ALREADY HAVE DELIBERATE, DAILY, ACTIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH JESUS come alongside new believers to help them discover how it is that they, too, can have deliberate, daily, and active relationships with Jesus by faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit! When the front end and midsection of the Great Commission become “business as usual” in the life of a local church, THAT’S when we begin to see the RESULTS of the Great Commission: NEW DISCIPLES BEING SENT BACK OUT INTO THE WORLD TO GATHER OTHER LOST SOULS INTO THE KINGDOM.
This is an exciting time. Please pray for our congregation to hear Jesus’ invitation and see Him keep His promise!