Catchers of Men by Randy Rowley 4/5/18 ©


On a hot and partly cloudy Monday in June, five fishermen hopped in guide Jay Garrett’s boat on Lake Belton for an afternoon of hybrid bass catching.  After several years of these annual trips I started called them catching trips instead of fishing trips, as we usually engaged in the former.

We ran across to the dam side of the lake and slipped into a cove.  We knew that Jay had found the right spot, as we soon spotted a large school of shad right by the bank.

Jay anchored his boat near the shad, baited a hook with a live shad that he had previously caught, and handed me the rod.  I went and set it as per his instructions – release the bail and pull the mono fishing line from the reel to the first rod guide six times.  As I went to get another rod from Jay, I heard an unmistakable sound – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!  A fish had hit the first shad!  My wife, Chris, promptly grabbed the rod and started fighting the fish.

While Chris reeled in her hybrid, I got the second rod set up for Vicki McGee.  I then landed Chris’ bass with Jay’s landing net, unhooked it, measured it, put it in the fish box, and gently closed the lid.  Then Vicki had a fish on!

For the next 45 minutes, it was non-stop action.  I spent most of my time netting either one of Chris’s or Vicki’s fish, unhooking them, measuring them, putting them into the fish box, and then taking their rods back to Jay for rebaiting.  They yo-yoed me.  One would catch a fish and I’d take care of it.  Then while I’d take the rod to Jay, the other one would catch one.  However, they were kind enough to let me reel in two or three.

Meanwhile, Jim McGee and Roy Brigman were happily fishing at the stern of Jay’s boat, laughing at me as I performed my new role as deck hand.

After we had 21 fish in the boat, the bite slowed down, but it still only took just 15 minutes to add four more fish and limit out.  In addition to the 25 hybrids, we landed three keeper sized white bass, for a total of 28 fish.

During the Chris and Vicki show, Vicki had a fish hit and make a run under the boat.  Chris then had a fish hit, which also made a run under the boat.  Soon it became evident that the two fish had wrapped around each other, as neither one could bring in her fish.  But, it was more than that.  Eventually we got them free, but Vicki now had a slack and empty line and Chris had two bass on her line on two hooks!

Somehow, the eye of Vicki’s hook caught onto and transferred over onto Chris’s line.  The line ran into the mouth of one of the fish and out through its gills.  The line (and hook) continued to the other fish, which had the hook attached to its lip.  The second hook was dangling on her line.  I think that if we’d tried to make that event happen we wouldn’t have succeeded in a million years!

Did you know that we as followers of Jesus are supposed to catch a different kind of fish, fish with two legs?  Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain stories of Jesus calling two sets of brothers who were fishermen to be fishers of men.  Matthew 4:18-22 (NASB) says, “Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was 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.  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.”  (Mark related the same story in Mark 1:16-20.)

Many people have the impression that these four fishermen were super saints who just dropped their fishing gear and immediately followed a rabbi whom they did not know.  However, such behavior would be just as reckless and bizarre then as it would be today.  After all, James and John did not tell their father why they were leaving him, where they were going, or what they were going to do.  Peter and Andrew also did not leave instructions with anyone on what to do with their nets.  To leave their job because some unknown rabbi said “Follow me” would be foolish.

However, if you read the Gospels in historical context, you will see that these four fishermen already knew Jesus well and were already his followers when he called them to be his disciples and fish for men.  The key to understanding the recount in Matthew is the Gospel of John.

John tells us that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist before he ever met Jesus (see John 1:35-40) and Andrew was one of two of John the Baptist’s disciples (the other was John) who saw him point to Jesus and heard him say, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36).  Andrew believed his teacher and after he spent a day with Jesus, he went to his bother Simon and said, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).  Then Simon and Andrew both went to Jesus, who immediately changed Peter’s name from “Simon” to “Peter” or “Rock” (see John 1:42).

Obviously, these events were before Herod had John the Baptist arrested, before Jesus started ministering in Galilee, and before he called these fishermen to fish for men in Matthew 4.  We can also presume that John told his brother James about Jesus.  James probably believed what John told him and he then followed Jesus.

But why were these fishermen fishing when Jesus called them?  In the culture of the day a man could be a follower or disciple of a rabbi without giving up his job.  For example, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist but still made his living as a fisherman.  He was probably cleaning up after a night of fishing when Jesus called him to be a fisher of men in Matthew 4.

Jesus called these fishermen to be full-time disciples in Luke 5:1-11.  Luke tells us that Jesus was teaching some people at the shoreline.  The fishermen were washing their nets from the previous night’s work and their boats were empty.  This time Jesus got into Peter’s boat and asked him to take him out a short distance from shore, probably because the people were crowding him.  We can presume that Andrew was with Peter.

After he finished teaching the people, Jesus asked Peter to take him to deeper water and to let down his nets.  Peter did so and caught so many fish that the nets began to break.  James and John came to help and they filled up both boats to the point that they began to sink.  An astonished Peter asked Jesus to leave him because he was a sinful man.  But Jesus said to Peter in Luke 5:10 (NASB), ““Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.””  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed him.

Jesus said through this miracle, “You can leave your jobs and I will take care of you and your loved ones.”  The disciples were convinced.  They left their boats and gear to the care of others, changed their jobs from fishing for fish to fishing for men, and followed Jesus on a full-time basis.

Luke does not say that they left immediately.  It would have made no sense for the disciples to leave the fish to rot in the sun and to abandon their boats and gear.  They would have entrusted their boats and gear into the care of others, divided the fish to feed their families, and sold the excess to provide for their families while they fished for men with Jesus.

So Jesus established a relationship with his followers, discipled them to a degree, and then eventually called them to be full-time fishers of men.

It is important to understand that while Jesus calls all of his disciples to fish for men, to give up our jobs and follow him on a full-time basis is a specific calling.  Today we call it committing to full-time Christian service.

Some times when we fish for men, just like when fishing for bass, we don’t get a nibble and go home discouraged.  During other times, like that summer hybrid bass trip, we catch a lot.  The important thing is not how well we do when we cast our hooks; rather it’s being obedient and available to do the casting.

Randy, Vicki, Jim, Chris, and Roy

Two hybrids on the same hook

Categories : Devotionals

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