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 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 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 first rod guide six times.  I cranked the reel 1/4 turn and set the rod in the bow port 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 one 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, laughing 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 add four more and limit out.  In addition to the 25 hybrids, we landed three legal white bass, totaling 28 fish.

During the Chris and Vicki show, Vicki had a fish hit on the starboard side and make a run under the boat.  Chris then had a fish hit on the port side, and it did the same as Vicki’s.  Soon it became evident that 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 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 commanded to catch a different kind of fish – fish with two legs?  The synoptic gospels contain accounts of Jesus calling two sets of brothers, who worked as 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.”

Many people believe that these four fishermen were super saints who just dropped their fishing gear and immediately followed a rabbi whom they didn’t know.  However, such behavior would have 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 why they were leaving, where they were going, or what they would do.  To leave their jobs because some unknown rabbi said, “Follow me,” would have been 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 accounts in the synoptic gospels 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 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 in Matthew 14:3 and before Jesus called his chosen fishermen to fish for men in 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.

But 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 still made their living as fishermen.  Andrew was actively fishing, and John was repairing his nets after fishing when Jesus called them to be fishers of men in Matthew 4:18-22.

Jesus called these followers to be full-time disciples in Luke 5:1-11.  Luke accounts 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.  Andrew likely was with Peter.

After he finished teaching the people, Jesus asked Peter to take him to deeper water and to let down the nets for a catch.  They did so, and they caught so many fish that their 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 fell at Jesus’s feet and asked him 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 the fishermen pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed him.

By performing this miracle, Jesus said to his followers, “You can leave your jobs, and I will take care of your loved ones and you.”  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 did 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 abandon their boats and gear.  They would have 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 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.

Sometimes when we fish for men, like when fishing for bass, we don’t get a nibble and go home discouraged.  Other times, like that summer hybrid bass trip, we catch a lot.  The important thing is not how well we do when we fish for men – instead, it’s being obedient and available to do the fishing.

Randy, Vicki, Jim, Chris, and Roy

Randy, Vicki, Jim, Chris, and Roy

Two hybrids on the same hook

Categories : Devotionals

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Bible verse of the day

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

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

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