The following is adapted from a sermon by Andy Stanley:
In Matthew 4:18-20 we read about Jesus coming upon some fishermen and saying:
Come — Follow Me.
One first reading it seems a bit sudden. They leave their work, their father, friends, income, to follow an unknown Rabbi. Many sermons have been preached on this text — especially verse 19, with the theme of:
Are you willing to leave all and simply follow blindly?
That’s isn’t quite how it happened. Well, at least based on some things we read in the other gospels — in particular — Luke. Remember, Luke sought out the witnesses, established the facts, and wrote a detailed account of all that happened.
Luke 5:1-31 gives us a few more details. Jesus shows up along the lake shore preaching and teaching. The fishermen are cleaning their nets after fishing all night and probably can hear the teachings as they work. As the crowd pushes closer and closer Jesus is beginning to be crowded into the water. He turns to Peter and asks if he can borrow his boat.
Out a little ways from the shore Jesus sits down in the boat and continues his talk and teaching. The fishermen are either on shore — or possibly in the boat. Either way they are still listening.
Then Jesus asks Peter to do something he has done many times before — but to do it the way Jesus says (as opposed to how he has always done it). These men fished in the night since the water was cooler and the fish came closer to the surface. In daytime the fish went deep and were hard to catch.
“Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Peter politely notes that their nets are already clean — and this style of fishing is not the way it is “normally” done. However:
But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
We’ve listened to you for a while and there is something about you and your teachings that has us interested. Because of these teachings — we’ll give it a shot.
they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break
OK — never saw that coming! We have heard you teach. We have allowed you to inconvenience us by using our boat because we were interested. Now we have agreed to do something we have always done — but in the way YOU say.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
There are four stages in becoming a disciple:
1. Sit and listen / Faith comes from hearing. Not just a blind trust, but a careful examination of the facts and the teachings. Asking questions and seeking answers.
2. Loan Him a boat / Because you see some truth in the teachings and they are beginning to make some sense you move out of your normal routine and allow Jesus to “inconvenience” you. You start reading the Bible. You start going to church. You begin to hang around other disciples in order to learn more.
3. Take Him fishing / There is a move toward baby steps of faith. Moving out of a relationship. Breaking a bad habit. Changing the way you behave at work. Doing life the way you always have except for some changes you feel Jesus is calling you to.
4. Leave you nets / This is the “all in” moment. After weighing the evidence and kicking the tires you take the step of faith. You may not know all the answers — or where it all will lead. You do know that so far life has been better with Jesus. Doing life the way He says as been much better than the old way.
If you carefully read and meditate on the calling of Levi (Matthew) found in verses 27-31 you will see a similar pattern. After spending time with Jesus and His disciples — Levi makes some changes and makes a commitment.
Is it time to stop kicking the tires? Have you been fishing with Jesus? What were the results?
Maybe it is time to be “all in”?