“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19
(Short exhortation given by Elder John Leong at the Church Prayer meeting on 1 September 2015)

Many of us struggle with little passion and burden to reach out to unbelievers. We do not really pray much for the salvation of our unbelieving loved ones and friends. Perhaps we did nothing to the Gospel worship handbills that are inserted in the weekly for us to give to our friends. Why are we not fishers of men for the Lord Jesus Christ? The sure and true evidence of a believer is his desire to reach out to unbelievers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The evidence of conversion is that the converts will desire the conversion of others.

The words of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:19 is a rebuke to us who have failed in our duty as fishers of men. You will notice in this verse that fishers of men are made, and not born. So do not give excuses that you do not have the gifts to evangelise or you are not a leader of the Church. All believers are meant to be fishers of men, and not a select group of men. This is seen in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 and emphasized by Paul in the Pauline epistles. Peter and the other three are here called to be chief fishers of men, setting the example for the saints to follow. The call of the Lord Jesus Christ to be fishers of men is thus open to all His children without exception of any background and giftedness.

There are 3 main spiritual lessons to learn from this verse:

1. Something to be done by us: Follow Me

What is required of believers to be fishers of men is only one thing: Follow the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the only thing that we must do. To follow the Lord Jesus Christ means:

a. To stop following the world and self. To follow Christ means we are separated from sin and worldliness. We are solely consecrated to Christ and hence follow Him only.
b. To abide in Christ. We stay and remain in the Lord Jesus Christ which is true fol-lowing, We want to stay so close to Christ and never to take one step away from Him. The closer we are to Christ, the more power we can experience in Him to be fishers of men.
c. To obey Him. To follow Christ is to obey Him. To obey Christ is to obey His Words. We follow and obey His Words in preaching the true Gospel message and the methods in evangelism.
d. To believe His Word. We follow Christ by believing in what He says. When you have true faith in believing His Words, then you will be used by the Lord to be fishers of men. If you do not believe, how can you share the Gospel.

2. Something to be done by the Lord Jesus Christ: I will make you fishers of men

When we sincerely and faithfully follow the Lord Jesus, He will do the work of change in us to make us fishers of men. This is the promise of Christ and He will surely make us to be one in the following ways:

a. Our example and testimony will be used by the Lord to make us fishers of men. Others can see Christ in our lives.
b. The Lord Jesus will make us fit for His work to be fishers of men as without Him, we can do nothing.
c. Christ will teach us with the right words to share the Gospel to others.
d. He will guide us who, when and where to share the Gospel.

3. The figure of illustration: Fishermen

The Lord Jesus used a wonderful illustration of fishermen to help us understand this task of soul-winning that we are engaged in. We are called fishers of men so that we understand the characteristics that we ought to possess when we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fishermen are:
a. diligent
b. persevering
c. watchful
d. self-denying
e. daring to venture out to new places

This is what every fisherman possesses in going out to the rough sea to catch fish the whole night. Beloved, do you have such characteristics as fishers of men?

The name “fishers of men” is a name given to every believer by the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence we must live up to this name. He will make us successful as fishers of men if we will only follow Him.