Text: Mark 1:14-20
Theme: About fishing people
Intr – Fishing is a once in a lifetime thing for me. That makes me no pro at the art of getting the fish out of the water straight to the bucket. But I have talked to somebody about the topic, and I will open the sermon today teaching you a little bit about this art.
When you go fishing, take with you something you can put over the water to hang the line from. It can be some cool fishing gear, but you know what, sometimes they’re too expensive. If you don’t have a lot of bucks to spare, just find something, even you golf club of a long broom stick should do it. The fishing line and the hook are again something that may draw too much from your pocket. So if you don’t have a fancy one, find something to hang from the pole you are using that can go into the water. Even if your shoelaces with a paper clip on the end should do it. About the bait: throw it in the water and just wait. Fish will swarm to where you are. Then pull them up, or catch them with your bare hand and voila!, you’ve got your catch. Best of all, they all come ready to go straight out of the water to the grill or the pot to make up for a great dinner.
In the end, if all of this wouldn’t work, I’m pretty sure throwing some dinamite in the water would do the work.
It’s great just to look to your faces right now. Your expression of “did he really say that?” is priceless. But, come on, is there something wrong with what I just taught here? Well, if you are a fisherperson or are at least a little bit acquainted with this practice, your answer will be: “Well, it is not that something is wrong with what you said. It is all completely wrong!” And if I went on saying “Well, but as I said before, I have talked to someone who taught me all the ropes on fishing”. Then your answer would certainly be: “Well, pastor, then you have certainly talked with the wrong person.”
1 – BAD ADVICE
The Gospel for today talks about fishing men. Fishing people into God’s kingdom. Here we see Jesus starting His ministry going by the lake, fishing men to teach them how to fish men. This is a very uncommon thing that a Master would do in those days, because back then what Masters usually would do when they started a class was to wait for the students to come to him. Jesus doesn’t wait though. He goes down by the lake, by the road, by the cities – by the disciples lives and calls them into the office of fishing for eternity. And He calls them with a message of freedom and life. As Mark writes, Jesus announced that “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand”. Jesus invites his disciples and talks about fishing people. He is fishing men – calling his disciples – to teach them how to fish men – to call more people to receive this message of freedom and Hope in Him.
Now, when it comes to this type of fishing we also need to talk with the right person to learn it the right way. Because if you go to the wrong place to hear about fishing people, you will get bad advice. For example:
_When you are trying to fish people, don’t talk to much about teaching and doctrine, about right and wrong. After all, the most important thing is that you share your truth, and you should avoid pushing people away from your reach as when one talks about objective Truth.
_Avoid mentioning the devil, hell, things like that. In the days we live in that would be taken either as quite legendary, a tale from old times, or it could just scare people out; you could be accused of trying to “scare people into faith.”
_Helping people out? Why? People should help themselves first, then God will help them.
-But if you do go out to help people, don’t do so because you want them to know Jesus. Like the other day I saw a Christian minister writing against “Operation Christmas” and the first reason for that was because it has the intention of sharing the love of Christ in Christmas! It has “strings attached” that shouldn’t be there. “You know, you should do good just because you want to do good, no Christian talk.” Don’t be so pushy because there are lots of religions and ideas out there, and eventually all the ways lead to the same place.
_Don’t be so worried about fishing people in just a lifetime. People will go away from this “river Earth” and come back to them many times. There will be lots of opportunities for self fishing and doing good things to please the Creator of the River.
_We don’t actually fish anyone, Jesus was just being symbolical. People should practice self-fishing, by doing good in order to please God.
This is not good advice. As people catched by God into his Holy Kindgom, we know better. We know that as a rule, no fish can fish itself, but they all need to know the Fisher in order to be saved. Sin has taken us away from the presence of God, and created a barrier one can’t overcome. We all need to be catched by the action of the Holy Spirit of God, that makes is swimm in the “River whose streams make glad the city of God” (Psalm 46) – Jesus -, otherwise, we will die.
2 – COME WITH ME
Jesus goes by the lake inviting men to come after Him. The siblings Simon and Andrew, and also brothers James and John. Then they just leave everything behind and follow Him. They follow the One who is the right person to teach about fishing people.
_Because He teaches what is right;
_Because He teaches what works right;
_Because He teaches what leads us to the right Place;
This is why we follow Jesus as well. Because by faith Jesus has fished us into God’s Kingdom. He came to this world to make you die to your previous life and to be born to a new one. You live in Jesus and you live for him.
3 – Fishing people
As we live in Jesus and live for him, we also hear Jesus’ short and precise sentence: “Come after Me and I’ll teach you to fish men”.(Among the innumerous qualities of the Saviour here is also Communication. He has a short, strong and straight to the point phrase which is connected to their reality, sparkling the desire to respond to the call. That is communication at its best.) Since Jesus uses the figure of “fishing people”, we can think now of some aspects of this work as a Chruch paralleled with the fishing activity. But this time in a more precise way. Jesus is the fisher of men. He knows everything about it, so it is from Him that we learn things right way.
_Fishing demands training. And perseverance. In my first and only fishing experience so far I caught 5 fish without any training. But that’s beginners luck and it was in a small pond type of setting. To excel at it you really need to practice it. “I will make you fishers of men”. It seems easy, but the disciples learned along the way that Jesus’ training was really hard. So much so that very few people remained by His side till the end.
_Fishers need to be patient. Because it involves walking with people, listening to them, having patience, and waiting and trusting in the Lord.
_ Fishers love fish. You cannot be a good fisher unless you love fish, both in recreative fishing or when you are aiming for a good supper. Fishers of people love…people. They see every one as someone by whom Christ laid down His life on the Cross.
_Fishers know that they don’t create the river and the shoal. God is the Creator of all opportunities. We are sent by him out to fish people with the Word to His Kingdom. And unlike the fish, who are scooped out of the water to die, people are fished out to die for sin but to live for the new life the Fisher has prepared on His Cross.
_Last, but not least: Fishers, not catchers – What’s the difference? Because you can fish for an entire day without catching anything. You may sit there for hours with the bait in the water with no fish to bite the bait. That’s fine, it happens. In the spiritual realm, we are fishers of men, but the catcher is the Holy Spirit. We follow Christs comand and sow the seed, give the food, share the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is the one catching fish, making them die to their previous life and be born to the new life of faith.
Cc – As Christians, we are called to be followers of Jesus. We cannot stay by His side or even go ahead of Him; we follow Him. And we learn from Him. If you want to learn something you need to ask the right person. Jesus is the Fisher of souls who says. “Come after Me. Come with Me; and you will fish people for eternity”. This word and invitation is not dynamite, but it is certainly dynamis, the Power of God for the salvation of every fish who swims in this faith.
 In a time when every so often kings would break into entire regions conquering cities and freeing people who were captive, Jesus broke into Palestine to start His way of freeing people. Not with mighty armies or powerful weapons, but with the might and authority of His preaching and teaching. Because they had ears, and eyes, and hearts captive to Satan; they needed to be rescued from sin and death by the Truth that sets us free.