Sunday Sermon: ‘Calling for Fishers of Men’

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In just a few weeks we will host our annual Sportsman’s Banquet. It’s hard to believe but this will mark our 8th banquet. I still remember the Sunday morning when I first mentioned it to Roger Nester. I had just attended a banquet with my dad and I thought that a sportsman’s banquet would be a good idea for Twin Oaks. Being the avid hunter that Roger is, you could see his eyes sparkle as we discussed it. I don’t think that either of us every dreamed that it would explode into the event it has become. Our Sportsman’s Banquet has become an annual highlight, not only for us as a church, but also for our community. I’m sure many of you have already had someone to ask you about it.

In order to help get our minds thinking in that way, the Lord put a special passage of scripture on my heart. It comes from the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

Of all the people that Jesus could have chosen to be His disciples, why do you suppose that He chose men like Peter and Andrew? The religious leaders of their days described them as being ‘unlearned and ignorant.’ They were simple men with very little education and no kind of formal training. In addition, they probably knew very little about the Bible. Yet Jesus specifically chose them. Peter and Andrew, along with their friends, James and John, became the first leaders of the early church. What was it about these men that caused Jesus to use them?

To better understand why Jesus selected men like Peter and Andrew to be His disciples, we need to take  a moment and consider what it was that Jesus was trying to accomplish.

I.  Christ’s Desire to Save the Lost

A lot of people have a lot of different ideas concerning who Jesus was and what He was about. In Luke 19, Jesus tells us in one very simple sentence why He came to this world.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

A. What does it mean to be “lost”?

I once read a bumper sticker that said – ‘I DON’T NEED TO BE SAVED. I’M NOT LOST!’ In other words, if someone knows where they are, how can they be lost?

What does the term ‘lost’ mean when it is used in the Bible?

The word ‘lost’ in the Bible doesn’t refer to our knowledge of our physical location. Instead the word ‘lost’ is a reference to our spiritual condition before God. The word ‘lost’ as it is used in the Bible means – {to be destined to be destroyed.} Like someone who might be traveling on the wrong road and therefore lost, the Bible says that mankind is on a road that will not take them to heaven, but instead to hell. Jesus said –

Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat : 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Most people are on the road to destruction and they don’t even know it. Spiritually speaking – they are lost.

Sometimes the word ‘lost’ is translated as ‘perish.’ To be lost means to be destined to perish.

1. Perish Physically

First let’s consider perishing from a physical standpoint. The Bible tells of a time when Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. During their voyage a terrible storm came upon them. While the disciples were madly fighting to survive the storm, Jesus was asleep in the back part of the boat. Finally in desperation the disciples cried out to Him –

Matthew 8:25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

Perishing here means drowning. Lord, save us. We’re going to drown in this storm!

2. Perish Spiritually

What does the Bible means when it speaks of perishing spiritually? Consider how Jesus used the word perish in a spiritual context –

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Jesus wasn’t talking about drowning physically. He wasn’t referring to some sort of physical danger. Jesus used the word perish to refer to what will happen to many people at the end of time. The Bible teaches us that to perish spiritually is to be cast into an eternal lake of fire called hell.

There is hope for those who are lost. God’s good news is that Jesus came to this earth to save us from perishing.

John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

B. Jesus was passionate about saving the lost

Christ’s desire for the world can be summed up in one sentence –

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.  

When the Bible says that Jesus came to ‘seek and to save’ the lost, the word ‘seek’ means to search for with an intense desire and craving. It’s means to desire something desperately.

Last week Tammy and Amy told me about a woman they met in a parking lot. It seems that she had lost one of her diamond earrings that she had received for her 40th wedding anniversary. Needless to say, she was searching desperately for it and who can blame her?

Consider how Jesus used this thought of searching desperately for something that was lost.

Luke 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?  

The word ‘lost’ used there is the same word we’ve been studying. The man’s lamb was lost out in the wilderness and in great danger of being devoured by a wild animal. Therefore, because of his great love and concern for his lost sheep, the shepherd went out into the wilderness and desperately searched for it. That lost sheep in danger was the shepherd’s number one priority. The lamb’s safety meant more to him than anything else; even his own well-being and comfort. Jesus said that he relentlessly searched for it until he found it.

Luke 15:5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Then Jesus gave another illustration.

Luke 15:8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together , saying , Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost

Would you bother to resolve a banking error that involved 1/10 of all of you possess? Of course you would. That’s why Jesus told this parable. He wanted us to understand how desperate He was to save the world.

10  Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

If we could spend 5 seconds visiting hell, we would better understand Christ’s passion to save the lost. We would understand why He was so desperate to rescue the perishing. Perhaps we would be a bit more desperate ourselves to tell our friends and loved ones how they can be saved.

Brethren, the Sportsman’s Banquet is not about how much fun we can have. It’s not about wild game dishes or door prizes. It’s about the opportunity to tell someone how they can escape the horrors of hell and enjoy eternity in heaven. It’s about Jesus using us to help rescue the perishing.

II. Christ Called Disciples to Help Him Save the Lost

Though the world looked at Christ’s disciples and thought that they were a joke, Jesus understood that these plain simple men had what it would take to reach the world. Read the book of Acts and you will find a group of courageous men and women who were passionate about being obedient to their Master in telling the world how to be saved.

Among these faithful followers of Christ were four leading men.

Acts 1:13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew…

A. What is a Disciple?

What is a disciple? A disciple is someone who is a pupil or follower of someone whom they desire to learn from and eventually be like. Jesus had many disciples. Among these many, many disciples were twelve special men. These twelve special disciples are called ‘the Apostles.’ It was to these twelve men that Jesus initially gave the responsibility of carrying on His work and teaches others to do so as well.

Among the twelve disciples were four special men. Often we think of three: Peter, James and John; but this morning I would like to include Andrew as well.

What was so special about these four men? We could say that they were brothers. Peter and Andrew were brothers and so were James and John. Most likely they were also good friends. But most of all, these four men were fishermen. Look with me again at our passage in Matthew 4.

Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

B. Their Qualities and Characteristics

Consider some of the qualities and characteristics of these four men.

1. Individually

Time will not allow us to do an in-depth study of each of these men, so let me use just one word to help describe them.

a) Peter was courageous

A lot of preachers have made fun of Peter and how he always seemed to be sticking his foot in his mouth, but I’ll tell you one thing – if I was in a fight somewhere I would want Peter on my side. He was a man full of courage.

b) James was committed

I’ll use the word ‘committed’ to describe James. The book of Acts teaches us that James was the first of Christ’s twelve disciples to lose his life for his faith. Yet James didn’t back down. Like his friend Peter, he was a man full of courage and commitment.

c) John was compassionate

James and his brother John were at one time nicknamed ‘The Sons of Thunder.’ They were hot-heads who were quick to get angry. But then as the Lord began to get a hold of their hearts, they began to change. John became a disciple full of love and compassion. No other New Testament writer uses the word ‘love’ more than John.

d) Andrew was consistent

What about Andrew? Of these four men, we know the least about him. Who was it about Andrew that caused the Lord to choose him?

Have you ever read any of Andrew’s New Testament letters? Of course you haven’t. He didn’t write any. Have you read one of his sermons? Of course you haven’t. If he preached any, none of them are recorded in the Bible.

Years ago I preached a sermon one Sunday night entitled – Average Andrew. Andrew seemed to be the quietest of the four, yet probably he had more of the kind of heart Jesus was seeking than any of the others. Andrew had what many might call – ‘A Soul Winner’s Heart.’

Shortly after Andrew first met Jesus, we read this of him –

John 1:41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted , the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus…

We often say that a family member is the hardest one to talk to about the Lord. Yet Andrew didn’t let his big brother Simon Peter intimidate him. He loved his big brother so much that he had to tell him about Jesus.

Because you’re not an upfront kind of person, some of you think that God can’t use you. But before you give up, you need to consider Andrew. You don’t have to write books or preach sermons to be used by God. You just have to be sincere, committed, obedient and faithful.

2.  Collectively

It’s easy to see why the Lord might choose these four men individually, but what about them as a group? Why did Jesus begin with fishermen in developing His disciples who would eventually lead the church?

a) They Were Strong

For one thing, they were strong men. Most of us go fishing for leisure. These men fished for a living. I did a little math the other day and if they fished for twenty years, they probably threw out that net and drew it back in close to 50,000 times. Imagine what strength it would take to pull in a net full of fish.

b)  They Were Steadfast

Not only were they strong physically, they were strong emotionally. These men had a deep inner strength which gave them great emotional endurance.

The Bible teaches us of a time when they fished all night and didn’t catch a single fish. Can you imagine throwing out that net and pulling it back in for nine or ten hours and not catching a single fish? But the next morning they met Jesus and He told them to throw out their nets once again. This time when they pulled in their net, it broke because of too many fishes. The Bible says –

Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing : for in due season we shall reap , if we faint not.

The church today doesn’t need stars or heroes. The church today needs men and women who have an inner strength that will make them steadfast. Are you that kind of disciple?

III. Sportsman’s Banquet

I think that one of the things I like the most about being in a country church is that most of the people are strong. They are strong physically and emotionally. They possess a deep inner strength that enables them to be hard workers.

Brethren, we need some Fishers of Men. We need some strong disciples who are passionate about seeing people come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work, both physically and spiritually. We need disciples who will approach this Sportsman’s Banquet like the early disciples approached their ministry. We need faithful disciples who can be used by Jesus to help reach the lost.

Concerning Peter, James, John and Andrew, the Bible says –

Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

‘Straightway’ or immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus. No questioning; no waiting; no excuses – just simple obedience. No wonder Jesus chose these kind of men to turn the world upside down!

Christ took ordinary fishermen and turned them in extra-ordinary Fishers of Men!

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