Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)
Lord Jesus offered this invitation to the Galilean fisherman brothers. He offers the same invitation to us: Come, Christian! Come, child. Follow me, your teacher and Lord. Follow me, the one true Christ, into Whose mystery you have been baptized. And I will make you fishers of men. He says this to us, right here and now, like He said it to Peter and Andrew, James and John. [Spanish]
The fisherman made their living pulling up their large nets, full of fish. They labored in the hot sun. They rowed; they hunted; they spread their nets; they waited. Then they acted quickly. They pulled up the nets and dumped everything in the hull; they paddled hard to the shore; they sorted; they salted; they organized and stored.
But: To fish for men…What does it mean? Two-part answer.
Part One: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. (Isaiah 8:23)
We can fish for men because God caught us first. Almighty God has done two equally amazing things. He has laid out the heavens and the earth; He has knit everything together according to His design. He has given us existence and life. He has given us everything as a gift—above all, our very own selves. He has formed us, equipped us, empowered us, and presented us to ourselves, saying, Behold, child! I give you yourself as a gift!
And into this vast cosmos which He has arrayed so wonderfully, and which He put us into; into the realm that we know: He Himself stepped, and He lived like us. He walked. He ate fried fish. He talked with His friends over a campfire.
He has touched our homeland Himself, Personally, as one of Mother Earth’s citizens. The light of the world, Jesus Christ—tender healer, demanding teacher, crucified for us, risen, and ascended to the heavenly Jerusalem, the divine-human High Priest of our religion.
We can fish for men because this Light of God has shone. The net we use? Nothing less than that same eternal and glorious light. Why would any human being toil and labor in vain, alone and friendless in a windswept universe arcing towards nothingness? No: our Maker made everything with a plan. He piled up the mountainsides for a reason. And Christ reveals the reason: everything Almighty God does, He does for friendship, for communion, for love. Orphans under a silent sky? No. When we pray, we pray to our Father. And He hears us, and loves us, and knows what we need a hundred times better than we do.
A human soul can pursue all kinds of things–like fleeting pleasures, or selfishness, or worldly power. Or a human soul can sink into slavish laziness. But the true reason why a human soul exists is: friendship with God in Christ. When we live in the friendship with God that Jesus offers us, then we know ourselves, and we are ourselves.
Part Two of what ‘fishers of men’ means. In the net, the fish come together. We fish for men because the light of God draws us together, together in Him.
How can we belong? How can we form a people? Lord Jesus has the answer. People, come together around Me! And He tells us Christians: fish with that net.
Jesus Christ, alive and well, pouring out His Holy Spirit through His Church—He can and does purify, elevate, and ennoble the minds of everyone Who lives in His friendship, so that we can live in fruitful harmony together. Gathered around Him, each of us can exercise every particular faculty of our own unique, individual selves–and it’s all for the good of everyone else. Jesus gives us that kind of communion. The life of God is perfect peace. And that peace fills the hearts of those who live in Christ, giving us a sacred bond of friendship.
Fish for men! He commands us. The Light of God has shone. Man can live free. Man can know and be himself. And mankind can live and flourish in common harmony. When we get caught up in the beautiful net that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.