When Jesus asked Peter, Andrew, James, and John to become “fishers of men”, they would have been considered pretty unlikely spiritual leaders in the eyes of society at that time. Yet Jesus handpicked these men to follow Him, and help deliver His important message. Stephanie Nickel encourages us to honour God by showing His love to others, especially those who are outcast from society.
I Will Make You Fishers Of Men
Matthew 4:18-22 says,
“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
Even in society’s that pride themselves on not having a caste system, there are still many people who are looked down upon, people who are considered less valuable: those who have minimum wage jobs, those who don’t have post-secondary education, those who don’t fit society’s definition of beautiful, those who struggle with mental health issues, those who have physical challenges, etc., etc., etc.
These “Fishers Of Men Were” Looked Down On
Back in Jesus’ day, fishermen were among those who did not hold high standing in society. In fact, because they were often ceremonially unclean because of their work, they were not allowed to worship at the temple. They wouldn’t be considered spiritual people, never mind spiritual leaders.
And yet . . .
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, chose fishermen to be numbered among His disciples. Can you imagine?
From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus didn’t do what was expected of a spiritual leader.
While it’s understandable that people in Jesus’ time didn’t comprehend what He was doing, we have the advantage of hindsight. We can look back and see things from a different perspective.
Plus, God pours out His Holy Spirit on those who come to saving faith in His Son. He gives us wisdom and insight that were not available before Jesus lived, died, and rose again.
Do We Look Down On Some “Fishers Of Men?”
And yet . . .
There are still people we don’t welcome into our congregations and those we personally avoid, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
I’m not saying this to accuse or condemn anyone. I’m as guilty as the next person. The thoughts that flash through my mind when I first see someone aren’t always the most gracious nor are they always based on fact.
Jesus Was Not What They Expected
Those who lived in the 1st century were looking for a messiah, but they didn’t expect Him to be born in a manger to a carpenter and his young wife. And they certainly didn’t expect Him to choose fishermen and a tax collector to be numbered among His disciples. What kind of spiritual leaders would they make? But they didn’t have any idea what God was going to accomplish in and through this small group.
After all, God was in the business of transforming lives and working in and through the most unexpected of men and women. And He still is.
How Do We Treat The Unexpected
When we see that homeless man holding up a scrap of cardboard, asking for a small act of kindness . . .
When we see that tattooed and pierced young person at the local skate park . . .
When we see that elderly woman behind the counter pouring our morning coffee . . .
When we see that group of people from a different ethnic background approaching us on the sidewalk . . .
When we see the mentally challenged individual heading in our direction . . .
And what if any one of these people entered the doors of our church next Sunday?
What would we say? What would we do? Would we greet them with a smile and invite them to sit with us? Would we strike up a conversation and ask them what brought them to church? Or would we leave that to someone else?
Teaching Our Children How To Treat Others
These are good conversations to have with our children. Admitting that we are uncomfortable around certain people allows are children to be honest with us about their own fears and concerns. Talking about how God wants us to treat others honours Him and helps us prepare to show His love to them. Plus, reminding ourselves that God can use even the most unlikely people to further His kingdom—and often chooses to do so—can motivate us to reach out in love.
What if Jesus had looked upon those “unclean” fisherman and decided, “They certainly aren’t the men I’m looking for to make the gospel known”?
Last time we talked about biological and spiritual ancestry. These 1st century fishermen are numbered among every believer’s spiritual ancestors. That’s definitely something to think about.
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Images courtesy of:
Homeless- Leroy Skalstad