Chosen Reflections: Fishers of Men
(This is fifth in a series of blog posts inspired by The Chosen, a multi-season series about the life of Jesus and His followers. Each post will highlight a quote sourced from Season 1. Previous posts include:
- Chosen Reflections: I Have Called You By Name
- Chosen Reflections: The Difference
- Chosen Reflections: Provision
- Chosen Reflections: Purpose
I wonder what the disciples were thinking when Jesus called them with these words: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt. 4:19 ESV). They couldn’t possibly imagine what Jesus meant by that, at least not in those first days. Yet they followed Him anyway.
If that wasn’t mysterious and confusing enough, later in His earthly ministry, Jesus told them the parable of the net (Mt. 13:47-51 ESV):
“The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the men pulled it ashore. Then they sat down and sorted the good fish into containers, but threw the bad away.
So will it be at the end of the age: The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous, and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Have you understood all these things?”
“Yes,” they answered.
Yes? Maybe they thought they did, but I’m guessing they weren’t even close. How could they, when they didn’t fully grasp all that Jesus was and is until after His resurrection?
In The Chosen, Jesus’s parable of the net is reimagined in one simple statement: “Gather many men of all kinds. I will sort them out later.” And even if we think we understand the meaning today, we don’t always do a good job of implementing His instructions.
How often is the gospel shared while paired with an additional message? A message that either implies or states outright that the good news of salvation is yours, but you need to clean up your act in order to receive it.
How often do we add to the gospel by establishing barriers for people that God did not set? Those hurdles can be related to moral failures, for example, when we require that someone living an immoral life must give up that lifestyle in order to receive Christ. But we can also set up religious activities as obstacles, such as requiring certain types of prayer or of attending a particular church denomination.
Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors. When the religious leaders criticized Him, He said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17 ESV). He warned the crowds to beware of the hypocrisy of the religious elite (Mt. 13:1-6). And He reserved His harshest rebukes for the religious establishment (Mt. 23:13-36) who placed unnecessary, pious burdens on the people.
The apostle Paul also had harsh words for religious leaders who added to the gospel. In his letters to the Romans, Galatians, and Philippians, he warned of the danger of adding circumcision as a requirement for Gentiles to become Christians.
Our job is to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ—casting our nets wide to be fishers of men. And yes, once new life is birthed through faith in Christ, we are to also disciple new believers by teaching them what it means to live a holy life (Mt. 28:19-20).
Their sincerity or hypocrisy will be sorted out in the end, but it won’t be by you and me. Whether through the parable of the net or the parable of the sheep and goats (Mt. 25:31-46), Jesus made it abundantly clear that judgment belongs to the Lord. He’ll sort them out. That’s His job. Our job is to be fishers of men. Let’s not confuse the two.