Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him (NIV).
The miraculous catch of fish greatly affected all who witnessed it. Since Simon was kneeling before Jesus, the Lord directly addressed him with an encouragement not to fear. Observe the reaction of people when they truly encounter the supernatural. They are awestruck; they do not know what else might happen. Here, Simon was afraid. So, Jesus quickly put Simon at ease. We see the compassion and kindness of Jesus. He was aware of how other people experienced the miraculous and calmed them. We also should think about the feelings of others.
But then unexpectedly Jesus said what would change Simon and some of his partners forever. “From now on you will fish for people.” What did this mean? First of all, the Lord Jesus met them where they were at that point in their lives. As you study the Four Gospels you learn that this was not their first meeting. They had heard Jesus speak and seen him act powerfully for several months. They knew he taught about the kingdom of God and how he called people to repent, to change their world and life view. Now this call summoned them to change what they knew about fishing and what kind of catch they ought to seek. The point of contact was fishing, but they would need to learn from him what it meant to fish for people. How do you fish for people? Obviously, you do not cast your nets into the waters of the lake to do that! Even more, why would you fish for people? They had caught fish to sell them to others, but from what they knew of Jesus and his teaching, that was not what the Lord intended. It is easy for us to say that he called them to become disciple makers, but it must have puzzled them.
So second, this was an invitation for them to become his disciples (students or learners). He would teach; they would learn from him. Clearly, Christ made the point that they would have to consider him their Teacher. This required them to humble themselves before him. Do we grasp this point? Yes, we may ask many questions, but Jesus is not our Teacher if we debate with him the truth he teaches. Every true Christian learns from the Lord Jesus. We do not try to teach him how his world and kingdom must operate. Simon was in the right posture before Jesus, on his knees, and he would have done well to have stayed there at various times in his life, instead of arguing with the Lord.
Third, it was a challenge to live by faith in Christ. They understood this. They immediately left their former occupation. Simon, Andrew, James, and John at that moment quit fishing for fish. They walked off their old job, probably much to the confusion of other fishermen, including their families. This was a bold step of faith, much like Abram had to take when he left Ur (Genesis 12:1). Their prior act of faith, putting out into deep water (5:4-5), was not risky. The greatest cost to them would have been inconvenience and perhaps disappointment if nothing happened. But this was a life-altering demand, and they knew it. Their whole future awaited. Would they choose self-reliance or complete dependence on Jesus. But they considered the cost and the benefits and decided that it was better to fish for people than for fish. So, they left everything and followed him.
What about you? What is the everything that you must leave to follow Christ? Does the life of faith seem too risky for your liking? Jesus calls people out of their comfort zones to surrender their lives and their futures to him. How can you leave everything to follow him?
You must know who Christ is! Do you?
Grace and peace,