Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 3, 1952

New Tasks For New Followers

Charles Haslam, St. Petersburg, Florida

Introduction: Our text Luke 5:1-11 concerns the call of the fishermen to become disciples of Jesus. We should read these verses carefully thinking of the selection that is being made. These men are part of a small group that is to have a part in the shaping of the destiny of the world. Would you have looked for your helpers among the fisher folk? Jesus did.

Our first thought from verse one is of the type of people who came out to hear Jesus teach. Repressed, Depressed, Oppressed and Impressed. These are words that describe their condition. They were repressed because their religion was based upon tradition, tradition that had replaced the Mosaic Law. The tradition was more important to the priests than the Law itself. They were bound to the past, so bound that the fulfillment of the promises of 4000 years could not break the bonds. Second, they were a depressed people. Politically, conquered by Rome; socially, cut off everywhere; economically, pinched. They sat in the darkness of despair lest the Messiah come. Third, they were oppressed at home and abroad. The burdens of Rome were heavy and the caste system at home difficult. Of the Scribes and Pharisees — Jesus said, "White walled sepulchers, filled with dead men's bones." Finally, these people were impressed. Impressed with Jesus, His message, His miracles, and by the hope that He brought to every heart.

In verses two and three Jesus chooses an empty boat as a platform and from it He brings a stirring message to the multitude. Yet, we cannot think of Jesus as a great orator but rather as a dynamic personality, who commands respect, reverence and attention as He quietly speaks the great truths that have transformed the world.

Now in verses 4-7 is recorded the miracle that accompanied the teaching, the miraculous draught of fishes. The message is confirmed by the miracle that followed. Compare this with the work of the apostles. Mark 16:20, "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." The same idea is taught in John 20:30, 31 concerning the purpose of Christ's miracles. Jesus' miracles were to convince the people that He was the Christ, the Son of God. If you believe that, no more miracles are needed to verify the fact. Miracles confirmed the preaching of the word in the first century. If it was confirmed then, it stands confirmed today by the testimony once presented. Men calling for miracles in this day smacks, to my mind, of the scene in Matt. 4:1-11 when the tempter wanted a special display of Jesus' powers.

So the word spoken by Jesus was confirmed by the miraculous draught of fishes and in verse eight we have Peter's acknowledgement of his own shortcomings and his recognition of Jesus as Lord. Let us notice these men who are chosen to be apostles of the Christ. These were Andrew and Peter who worked together as fishermen. Also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were the partners of the other brothers. Here is an outstanding characteristic, these men could agree, in business and in religion. They had followed John the Baptist and now they were following Jesus. Perhaps Jesus is here pointing out one of the great traits of character of leaders of men; the art of getting along with people. Perhaps education, intelligence and business success is all secondary to the ability to get along with our fellow men. Hate, pride, envy, jealousy prevent men from living together in peace. These were absent from the makeup of these four. Other things could be learned, the gospel, the preaching, the ministering. These could be acquired but it was character that Jesus needed and these men had it.

Mark 1:17 contains the historic statement concerning the fishermen, "Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." Every Christian has that responsibility, Fishers of men. The gospel to be preached, the life to be lived that others might be brought to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.