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


On a hot Monday in June, two friends, my wife, Chris, brother-in-law, Roy Brigman, and I hopped in Captain Jay Garrett’s boat on Lake Belton for an afternoon FCS guided hybrid bass catching trip.  After several years of these annual trips, I started calling 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 Jay had found the right spot, as we soon spotted a large school of shad right by the bank – they were probably pushed there by hybrid bass.

Jay anchored his boat near the shad, baited a hook with a live shad he’d caught earlier, and handed me the rod.  I set it per his instructions – press the spool release button and pull the line from the reel to the rod’s first guide six times.  I cranked the reel 1/4 turn and set the rod in the bow (front) port (left) rod holder.

As I went to get another rod from Jay, I heard an unmistakable sound – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!  A fish had hit the first shad!  Chris promptly grabbed the rod and started fighting the fish.

While Chris reeled in her hybrid, I got the second rod ready for Vicki McGee.  I then landed Chris’s 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 Chris’s and Vicki’s fish, unhooking them, measuring them, putting them into the fish box, and then taking their rods to Jay for rebaiting.  One would catch a fish, and I’d take care of it.  Then while I’d take the rod to Jay, the other would catch one.  However, they were kind enough to let me reel in two or three.

Meanwhile, Jim McGee and Roy were happily fishing at the stern (back), snickering at me as I performed my new job as Jay’s deckhand.

After we had 21 hybrids in the fish box, the bite slowed down, but it still only took another 15 minutes to catch four more and limit out.  In addition to the 25 hybrids, we landed and kept three legal white bass, totaling 28 keepers.  We also caught and released a few undersized white bass.

During the Chris and Vicki show, Vicki had a fish hit on the starboard (right) side and run under the boat.  Chris then had a fish hit on the port side that did the same as Vicki’s.  Soon it became evident the two fish had wrapped around each other, as neither lady could bring in her fish.  But, it was more than that.  Eventually, we freed them, but Vicki now had an empty line, and Chris had two bass on her line on one hook!

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 if we’d tried to make that happen, we wouldn’t have succeeded in a million years!

Did you know Christians are commanded to catch a different kind of fish – fish with two legs?  The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain recounts of Jesus calling two sets of brothers, who worked as fishermen, to be fishers of men.  (The “gospel” is the good news of redemption of sin through Christ.)

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.”

Some people believe these four fishermen were saints who just dropped their fishing gear and immediately followed a rabbi whom they didn’t know.  However, such behavior would’ve been just as reckless and bizarre then as it would be today.  Peter and Andrew didn’t leave instructions with anyone on what to do with their nets and probably their boat.  And James and John didn’t tell their father where they were going or what they would do.  To quit their jobs because some unknown rabbi said, “Follow me,” would’ve been foolish.

However, if you read the gospels in historical context, you’ll see that these four fishermen already were Jesus’s followers and knew him well when he called them to be his disciples and fish for men.  The key to understanding the recounts in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark 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 the two John the Baptist’s disciples who saw him point to Jesus and heard him say, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (See John 1:36.)  Andrew believed his teacher, and after he spent a day with Jesus, he went to his brother Simon and said, “We have found the Messiah” (see John 1:41).  Then Simon and Andrew both went to Jesus, who immediately changed Simon’s name to “Peter” or “Rock” (see John 1:42).

These events were before Herod had his men arrest John the Baptist (see Matthew 14:3) and before Jesus called his chosen fishermen to fish for men (see Matthew 4:18-22).  We can also presume that John, the other John the Baptist disciple who saw him identify Jesus, told his brother James about Jesus.  James probably believed what John told him, and he then followed Jesus.

So, why were these men fishing when Jesus called them to be his followers?  In the day’s culture, a man could be a follower or disciple of a rabbi without giving up his job.  Andrew and John were disciples of John the Baptist but continued fishing for a living.  Andrew was actively fishing, and John was repairing his nets after fishing when Jesus called them to be fishers of men (see Matthew 4:18-22).

Jesus called these followers to be full-time disciples in Luke 5:1-11.  Luke recounts 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.  Probably because the people were crowding him, Jesus got into Peter’s boat and asked him to take him out a short distance from shore.  Although Luke didn’t say it, he implied that at least Andrew was with Peter, as Luke 5:5a says, “Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.”

After he finished teaching the people, Jesus asked Peter to go to deeper water and let down the nets for a catch.  They did so, catching so many fish their nets began to break.  James and John came to help, and they filled up both boats to the point they began to sink.  An astonished Peter fell at Jesus’s feet and asked him to leave him because he was a sinful man.  Jesus replied in Luke 5:10b (NKJV) which says, “And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid.  From now on you will catch men.’”  So the fishermen pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed him.

By performing this miracle, Jesus communicated without words to these men that they could leave their jobs and he’ll take care of their loved ones and them.  Jesus convinced them – 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 didn’t say these new disciples left immediately.  It would’ve made no sense for them to leave the fish to rot in the sun and abandon their boats and gear.  They probably would’ve entrusted their boats and equipment 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 eventually called them to be full-time fishers of men.

It’s important to understand that while Jesus calls all his disciples to fish for men, giving up our jobs and following him on a full-time basis is a specific calling – today’s it’s called dedicating your life to full-time Christian service.

Sometimes when we fish for men, as when fishing for bass, we don’t get a nibble and go home discouraged.  Other times, like during that June hybrid bass fishing trip, we have a great harvest.  The important thing is not how well we do when we fish for men – instead, it’s how obedient and available we are to do the fishing.

Randy, Vicki, Jim, Chris, and Roy

Two hybrid bass on the same hook

Categories : Devotionals

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Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/

Bible Verse of the Day

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.