More Than A Hobby

“And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:10-11

The metaphor Jesus uses when He calls Peter and the other disciples to follow Him in Luke 5 might seem a bit odd and is probably often misunderstood. Jesus says, “From now on you will be catching men.” It makes sense that Jesus would use a fishing metaphor to get a picture across to these fishermen.

But when we read this today, we might immediately think of our hobby-style fishing. As a boy, I loved driving through the woods of my grandparents’ property to get the best fishing pond, then pushing out from the bank in a little boat with a trolling motor. My grandfather and I would sit with our lines down in the water – waiting for the fish to bite.

That was “fishing.” Only sometimes was it “catching.” And everyone who likes to fish knows the difference between the two!

Jesus tells these brand new disciples that they will be catching men. Matthew and Mark record Jesus calling them “fishers of men,” but Luke wants to emphasize the catching. Jesus tells them this right after they haul in a gigantic catch, thanks to His knowledge and direction. So right there on the spot they’ve got a pretty good idea of what Jesus means when He says they’ll be catching men. And it has little to do with sitting in a little boat out on a pond waiting for a bite.

Some notes of commentary from the NET Bible are helpful here, because they remind us that our fishing context is not the fishing context of the disciples. So this word picture ought to be viewed through their eyes, not ours:

“The kind of fishing envisioned was net — not line — fishing, which involved a circular net that had heavy weights around its perimeter. The occupation of fisherman was labor-intensive. The imagery of using a lure and a line (and waiting for the fish to strike) is thus foreign to this text. Rather, the imagery of a fisherman involved much strain, long hours, and often little results.”

Catching men was not going to be your casual holiday at the lake with a cold drink in one hand and a rod in the other. These guys knew fishing. And fishing meant work. It meant going to where the fish are. Finding them and laboring to haul them in.

Such would it be for people-fishing. It would not be a hobby or a time for leisure. It would be a life’s mission.

And there would be times when they would catch very few men and women. Imagine the disappointment. But there would always be that next morning when they were commissioned to go back out and do it all again.

Oh, and those times when people were caught! The disciples – by the power and drawing of the Holy Spirit – being part (however small) of the snatching of men and women off the path toward sure damnation. Unlike the kind of fishing we do, where we take home a delicious bass, kill it, and pan-fry it in some lemon and butter, the people caught by the disciples would actually be experiencing new life in Christ!

“Catching people is the opposite of catching fish: The fish would be caught, killed, cooked, and eaten; people would be caught so as to remove them from eternal destruction and to give them new life” (ibid).

Such is your mission and mine. As disciples, we’ve received the same call from Christ. To catch some men and women. Laboring, not leisuring, to get them the gospel. Working, not waiting, for them to hear the truth.

Jesus’ metaphor ought not to give you the impression that making disciples is like a lazy Sunday afternoon on the pond. It ought to prompt you to ready yourself for the exhausting, intense, sometimes disappointing and discouraging – but always eternally rewarding – work of discipleship.

May catching people be for you more than a hobby.


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