Some of Jesus’ closest disciples were commercial fishermen. When Jesus called them, he told them that they would be “fishers of men” (Mathew 4:19 NIV).
There are many spiritual analogies that can be made with the experience of fisherman to the experience of a disciple. Being commercial fishermen, they would have understood what it was they were being called to do & the challenges they were to face.
Both required long hours and hard work. At times, the work seems to be in vain as there would be no catch. When there was a catch, the fisherman would sit on the shore and separate the valuable fish from the ones that were not. Not every “fish” that is taken into the net proves to be of value, yet the labor involved is the same.
The net required continual repair & maintenance so that it could be used with the maximum efficiency.
The fishermen are responsible to keep the net properly maintained. This is symbolic of how the message must be presented in the purity & simplicity in which it was received.
A person is saved when he believes in the Person (who HE is) & the works (what HE did on the cross) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less!
Anything or anyone who adds to or takes from this principle is tearing the “net” and producing “holes” (false doctrines) that will challenge the integrity of the net. The fishermen (Christian disciple) must continually inspect the “net” to insure that no “holes” are developing and make the necessary repairs.
Fishermen would have to go out and venture into the sea where they would be exposed to many personal dangers where their lives would be at risk in order to produce a “catch”.
Christians must be equally willing to expose themselves to the storms of life that are going to be manifested in the life of anyone who chooses to live for God. (2 Timothy 3:12). There will be many storms, dangers & adversities to overcome.
In the spiritual realm, the “net” is the Gospel message. The “net” is presented to all of the fish that are in the area of the sweep. The “fishermen” symbolize the Christian witness. He job is to continually maintain & present the “net” to all, but has no control as to when the casting of the net will produce a great catch and when it will not.
This is symbolic of how the message is preached to everyone, but not everyone who hears it responds. The fish that are in the net are later separated. The “fish” that are of value symbolizes the person who responds to the Gospel Message & is then retained. The “fish” that are of no value symbolizes individuals who were presented with the Gospel message, but rejected it. (Matt, 13-47-48).
Just as commercial fishermen will spend many laborious hours with no immediate results, so is the life of the Christian disciple. Sometimes the net will be full of fish & sometimes it will have little or none. It will not be until the net is lifted out of the sea that the fruit of their labor will be determined.
There is one distinct difference between the basis for the compensation that the commercial fishermen receive & the “rewards” of the Christian disciple.
Commercial fishermen are paid according to “catch” they can accumulate. No fish, no pay.
Christian disciples will be compensated according to the their faithfulness, accuracy, & persistence in the “casting of the net”, not how many fish are taken. The Bible tells us it is the “quality” (1Cor.3:15 NIV) not the quantity of our work that will be determined by the judgment of God.
There must be no “bait” or “lures” in the “tackle box” of the Christian disciple. There are no “tricks” or “gimmicks,” allowed. Any such manipulation (threats/promises) of the “fish” can result in the suspension of one’s fishing license (privilege & opportunity to teach) removal from the “tournament” (production in the post-salvation spiritual life) by the Game Warden (the Holy Spirit) for having misrepresented the Word of God.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (R) Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All Rights reserved.