Come, Follow Me,
And I Will Show You How to Fish for People

Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11

DIG: What invitations did Jesus give to those fishermen? What seems unusual about their response? What prior knowledge of Christ to you think they had (see Matthew 4:13 and 17)? Picture yourself as Simon. What are you thinking, doing, feeling in Luke 5:1-3? When the Lord speaks directly to you in Luke 5:4? Why do you go along with His odd request? How did this have a more profound effect on him than the healing of his mother-in-law? What is he beginning to grasp about the Rabbi from Galilee?

REFLECT: Spiritually, are you still preparing the nets? Leaving the boat? Or following hard after Messiah? Are you totally committed? The apostles left their profession and their source of income. They believed that He would provide for their needs. Do we do the same? Jesus told Peter: Don’t be afraid. Why did He say that? When you think of totally committing yourself to follow Yeshua, what are you afraid of? Why? When and how did you fall in love with the Lord?

Rescuing the lost from sin is ADONAI’s greatest concern. So much so that it caused to Yeshua weep bitterly over the unbelieving City of David, sobbing: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you. How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but [they] refused (Matthew 23:37)! God sent His Son to earth – to preach, die, and be raised – for the purpose of saving mankind from sin (John 3:16). Christ said of Himself: For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Evangelism was the great concern of the congregations of God after Shavu’ot. They studied at the apostle’s feet, shared with each other, and praising God they enjoyed the favor or all people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47). Evangelism has been the heartbeat of faithful believers ever since.

Forms of the Greek word translated evangelize are found over fifty times in the B’rit Chadashah. Evangelization is the primary thrust of the Great Commission: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19a). While some people have the spiritual gift of evangelism (Ephesians 4:11), we are all to be evangelists.To make disciples is to evangelize, to bring people under the lordship of Yeshua Messiah. But when Jesus called His disciples to Himself, He also called them to call others.390

Yeshua could have accomplished His mission alone, but He never intended to do it alone. In conjunction with the declaration that the Kingdom was near, He continued to call His apostles. In this commentary I make a distinction between apostles and disciples. The twelve will be called apostles or talmidim (Hebrew), and the others would come to believe in Him would be called disciples. While it is true that the apostles were also disciples, it is not true that all disciples were apostles.

The concept of discipleship was nothing new to first century Judaism. Any significant rabbi would have faithful followers who would be called to a commitment of both following and learning - thus the word talmid (singular), meaning learner. The talmid would “yoke” to a rabbi, and submit himself to the rabbi for instruction. The rabbis taught that the talmid would “be covered with the dust of his feet” because he would follow so closely. To be selected as a talmid of a leading rabbi was a great honor. This meant more than merely passing on information, but also involved a close personal relationship with one’s rabbi. The word halakhah is usually translated the path that one walks. The word is derived from the Hebrew root hei-lamed-kaf, meaning to go, to walk or to travel. Thus the goal of a talmid would be to duplicate and perpetuate halakhah. The wisdom of the Torah and halakhah were transferred to the talmid after years of teaching and on the job training, so that one day he would have his own talmidim (plural).

Here Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to halakhah, or full time ministry (Philip and Nathanael are not mentioned, but it is implied that they were likewise called). Then Yeshua adds two more talmidim, James, and his brother John who also left their prosperous fishing business to follow the Lord into full time ministry. At that time there were seven talmidim.

One day as Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee. It is a beautiful body of water, nearly 700 feet below sea level, thirteen miles long and eight miles wide, is actually an inland lake (Luke calls it the Lake of Gennesaret and John calls it the Sea of Tiberias at one point). The Jewish historian Josephus reported that there were some 240 boats that regularly fished on its waters. The people were crowding around Him and listening to the word of God (Matthew 4:18a; Mark 1:16a; Luke 5:1a)

He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter (Hebrew: Kefa) and his brother Andrew. As Simon was one of the most common names in first-century Palestine (we shall see four other Simons in Matthew 10:4, 13:55, 26:6, 27:32), the nickname by which our Lord used to identify him (and especially to distinguish him from the other Simon among the Twelve). They were casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen (Mattityahu 4:18b; Mark 1:16b; Luke 5:1b).

Simon was a simple, uneducated man who knew Yeshua from their previous meeting during the summer, as he and some others were fishing for the tropical musht fish in the warm mineral springs down the coast near Tabgha. At that time, Jesus had called Shim’on and his brother Andrew to join Him as He preached throughout greater Galilee. While Peter had initially accepted Christ’s call as a talmid, he also had a wife and mother-in-law to care for. But now Jesus was back, standing in front of his boat.391

The crowding was so great that there was not enough room for Messiah to address the people. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets of the sand and pebble, with which such a night’s work would clog them. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Shim’on, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat (Luke 5:2-3). He is always teaching from a sitting position that is the posture of a rabbi. Crowds began to find Him on those days when He preached. The early morning sun reflected the mirrored surface of the lake and lighted up the whole scene.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon: Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch (Luke 5:4). Peter was an experienced fisherman who knew the habits of fish. Fishing was normally done at night; for it was then that the fish rose from the depths to feed at the surface of the water. The fish remained at the surface as long as it was dark. But when the night passed and the sun rose, the fish descended back into the depths of the lake again. Those in the fishing trade knew that it was useless to attempt to fish in the daytime.392

But Kefa was exhausted and discouraged. He had been up for twenty-four hours straight, sailing his small boat out onto the lake and dropping his nets again and again. His back was probably ached from leaning over the side to pull his nets in. He had been in and out of the inland sea time and again without any success. He needed a drink and a meal. He needed some sleep. But most of all, he needed to pay his taxes, and that fruitless night of fishing didn’t help.393

So Simon answered: Rabbi, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. Do you have any worn, wet, empty nets? Do you know the feeling of a sleepless, night of failure? Of course you do. For what have you been casting?

Solvency? “My debt is an anvil around my neck . . .”

Faith? “I want to believe, but . . .”

A happy marriage? “No matter what I do . . .”

You say, I’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.”

You’ve felt what Peter felt. You’ve sat where Peter sat. And now Jesus is asking you to go fishing. He knows your nets are empty. He knows your heart is weary. He knows you’d like nothing more than to turn your back on the mess and call it a life.

But He urges, “It’s not too late to try again.”

See if Peter’s reply won’t help you formulate your own.394

Simon thought he knew more about fishing than Yeshua. Kefa’s experience told him that to put down the nets during the daytime would be useless. But because You say so, I will let down the nets (Luke 5:5). Being an obedient talmid he let down his nets.

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. Seeing the miracle of both boats filled with fish was enough to convince Shim’on Kefa that he was in the presence of the Holy One of God. The effect on the impulsive Peter was instantaneous. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said: Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man (Luke 5:6-8)! Like Isaiah, Simon expressed his unworthiness, which one should feel in the presence of the divine.

If we compare ourselves to someone else we can always find someone who is worse that we are. So don’t do it. The only thing that will result is bad fruit. The only comparison we should be making is with the absolute standard of Jesus Christ. He is our audience of One. When we do this, our only conclusion can be the same as Peter’s. We are sinful indeed.

For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Yeshua offered by bringing a word of comfort to Shim’on: Don’t be afraid. Come, follow me, and from now on I will show you how to fish for people (Mattityahu 4:19; Mark 1:17; Luke 5:9-10b). Come, this seems to be one of His favorite words:

Come now, and let us reason together, though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18 NASB).

Let anyone who is thirsty, come to Me and drink (Yochanan 7:37 NCBV)

Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). It all begins with a tug on the heart. This is not to say that our faith is mindless, but for most of us following Jesus is like falling in love. It has been said that “we admire people for reasons; we love them without reasons.” It happens merely because they are who they are. And I, Yeshua said: when I AM lifted from the earth, will draw all people to Myself (John 12:32). Yes, we follow Messiah for what He said - His words are important; but we also follow Him because of everything that He is.395

The obedience of His talmidim was instantaneous. At once Simon Peter and his brother Andrew left their nets and followed Him (Matthew 4:20; Mark 1:18). Obedience is the spark that lights the fire of passion. Kefa did eventually catch men and women. Remember how well he did on Shavu’ot? The Lord’s answer to Peter was certainly significant. About three thousand souls were saved and baptized after his first sermon (Acts 2:41)! Shim’on was fishing according to Messiah’s instructions.

A number of qualities that make a good fisherman can also help make a good evangelist. First, a fisherwoman needs to be patient, because she knows that it often takes time to find a school of fish. Second, a fisherman must have perseverance. It is not simply a matter of waiting patiently in one place, hoping some fish will eventually show up. It’s a matter of going from place to place, and sometimes back again, over and over – until the fish are found. Third, the fisherwomen must have good instinct for going to the right place and dropping the net at just the right time. Poor timing has lost many a catch, both of fish and of people. A fourth quality is courage. Commercial fishermen, certainly ones such as those on the Sea of Galilee, frequently face considerable danger from storms and various calamities.396

But do you know there is another fisherman? The devil is also a fisherman? Rabbi Sha’ul tells us that in Second Timothy 2:26 CJB, when he says: God may grant sinners the opportunity . . . to come to their senses and escape the trap of the Adversary, after having been captured alive by him to do his will. Satan also has his hook out in the water. While it is true ADONAI is fishing for your soul, that old Serpent is also fishing for your soul with a hook baited with the things of this world (First John 2:15-17). You might say the Lord’s hook is the cross. The Son of God died on that cross for you. This is the Father’s message for you today. By the way . . . whose hook are you on today? You are either on God’s hook or the Adversary’s hook.397 And there’s no wiggling off the line.

So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him (Luke 5:11). It is important to understand that this wasn’t the Lord’s first interaction with Peter, Andrew, James or John (see Bp – John’s Disciples Follow Jesus). They had already been called to faith, and the Rabbi from Galilee already had a relationship with them.

When He had gone a little further He saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. When the Galilean Rabbi called the two brothers they were tough, crusty outdoorsmen, like uncut jewels. They had little education, little spiritual insight, and perhaps little religious training. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets, a routine but vital task in the fishing business (Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19).

Although their family name was Zebedee or Zavdai, Hebrew for gift of God, Yeshua would later give these two zealous brothers the nickname Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). Jesus called them as He had called Simon and Andrew, and immediately they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him (Mattityahu 4:22; Mark 1:20). In their case something of a price of discipleship is indicated by the breaking of family ties – the leaving of their father’s business. The mention of hired men may imply that Zebedee was wealthy. But John, the inspired human author, may also be included to indicate that by leaving their father to follow Jesus, James and John were not leaving him entirely alone to run his fishing business. Nonetheless, the emphasis is on their immediate response to Christ’s call.398

Like Shim’on Kefa, the prophet Isaiah also had a revelation of the Lord that humbled and terrified him, “Woe is me! For I am lost . . . for my eyes have seen . . . the LORD” (Isaiah 6:5). However, the touch of a burning coal from the bronze altar cleansed him of his sins and freed him from all guilt. Once purified, Isaiah was able to hear the cry of ADONAI’s heart: Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us? Without hesitation, Isaiah called out: Here am I! Send me (Isaiah 6:8).

God longs to call each of us, just as He called Peter and Isaiah. As we allow ADONAI to overwhelm us with His love, we too will hear the call to discipleship. We will know that we are unworthy of such an honor, but we will also know that, through repentance (First John 1:8-10), we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be fishers of men and women ourselves.

As our relationship with Jesus deepens, so too will our love for Him and, like Simon and Isaiah, we will want to followed Him. Let us not be afraid to humble ourselves before the Lord and receive the calling He has for us. There is no greater honor than to be a disciple of the Meshiach, equipped to catch souls for His Kingdom.

Lord Jesus, cleanse our sin and empower us with Your presence. Here we are, Lord! Send us! Empower us to advance Your Kingdom! Teach us to speak Your words and minister Your love to everyone we meet. Amen.399


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