Today we have another of our life group meetings with the topic once again being evangelism. Most people are intimidated by the idea of talking to others about Christ and ultimately His redemptive plan for them. I find it intimidating at times as well. So, our objective in these studies is to try and help us grow in our understanding of evangelism. To seek the Lord for boldness to share the hope of the cross. From the beginning of Christ’s evangelistic work, He knew that mankind had to play an integral part in their salvation. He sought to start training those who would be His voice in a lost and dying world.
Jesus first faced the 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) and then started His ministry (Matthew 4:12-17). That ministry had at its core a simple call to those willing to hear, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v17). Jesus ushered in his kingdom once He ascended, and the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, and the good news about the risen Christ began. After three short years, the Apostles, prepared by Jesus, went out among the people and preached the gospel.
Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
I am always taken back by the reaction to the simple invitation given to Peter and Andrew to “follow Me” given by Jesus. Their response was, “They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Matthew 4:20). The word for followed here means to be n the same way with, i.e., to accompany. In the very following verses, we find Jesus inviting James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, and they likewise “immediately…left the boat and their father and followed Him” (Matthew 4:22). Extraordinary. There was no real explanation as to why they were so willing to leave everything to follow Jesus, but they did. So, could it be that the first prerequisite, if you will, to become fishers of men is the decision to follow Jesus? To prioritize Him in one’s life. The thought caused me to think of 1st Peter 3:15 that begins with these words, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…” The word sanctify means to venerate, regard with great respect, revere. The role that we allow Jesus to play in our lives will determine in many ways whether we become those fishers of men.
A response to the invitation is where it begins, not where it ends. For Jesus said that if they chose to follow Him, He would “make them fishers of men.” The Greek word for make here means I make, manufacture, construct. Jesus would take these mere everyday fishermen and transform them into “fishers of men.” Like so many areas in our Christian walk, we need transformation. James and John, who Jesus would name “sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17), had to be rebuked by Jesus after they asked to command fire to come down and consume a Samaritan village ((Luke 9:54). Even after three years of walking with Jesus, witnessing the miracles, and being fully confident that they would never deny Jesus (Matthew 26:35), Peter would deny Him, and “all the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). Hard to believe that these would be the ones so vehemently proclaiming the good news of Christ.
Through a simple invitation and the profound transformation of imperfect men, Jesus took simple fishermen and made them fishers of men. Not perfect, men! Fishers of men. You see, if we wait until we think we are ready to talk to others about Christ, we might never do so. Jesus can take the average person and use them to do amazing things for the kingdom. We need first to accept the invitation and prioritize Him in our lives. Then, Jesus can take that rawness of who we are and make us into His tool for use in the kingdom. Could it be then that the act of evangelism is about what happens when we make Him Lord and commit ourselves to spiritual growth in His name? It is and always will be about Him.