What plans we had when we were younger! We worked all hours on the lake. We saved every spare denarius hoping to buy our next boat. What dreams! A small fleet; dominating the Galilean fishing business; building nice houses; acquiring land for animals, olives and vineyards; enough servants to semi-retire. It all changed that day when Jesus walked up, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” He said (Matthew 4:19). And He did.
Jesus was the first person with a plan for our lives that actually benefitted both Him and us. Everyone else wanted something from us and we wanted something from them and no one seemed completely satisfied with the outcome. Fish traders squeezed prices down to maximize their profits; women haggled over freshness and missing fins. The tax collectors extortions trapped us in our small business. But that’s life! We will always be the ones who are most invested in our own interests.
At first, Jesus’ offer sounded as one-sided as anyone else’s. Slowly we realized a difference; He was offering an entirely new lifestyle that blessed both sides. You see, God is the only being in the universe that thoroughly cares about us and knows what He designed us for. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Jesus showed us how to use the Father’s power to set people free from sickness, demons, and sin. It transformed them but changed us too. Serving Him in His “fishing” business, by blessing others, turned out to be more exciting and fulfilling than our wildest dreams. Mind you, it took a few years to understand enough to make the change.
Watching Him was a big part of it. He was never selfish; He didn’t need to indulge Himself because He was thoroughly satisfied in His Father. As a result, He related to people in a different way. He loved people without needing them. He was not bound to meet their needs or have them meet His. He depended solely on the Father and acted like everyone should do the same. People would come to Him with selfish requests and He would refuse. Sometimes He made His family wait. It seems that the relationships He invested in were with people, like us, who wanted to learn His ways or with whom there was simple mutual enjoyment.
Now we try to relate in the same ways. Trusting the Father’s love for us and His detailed practical care is the beginning. That helps us love others, care for them in the same way that God cares for them, and point them to Him. We don’t have to meet their misguided demands. If they reject our love and care it’s not really a rejection of us. We move on and spend time helping those who do respond to Jesus’ offer by doing what He says.
We thought of Him as our rabbi, or like a shepherd with his flock. But one day, after He had returned to the Father, it dawned on us—He was a fisher of men. Oh, He wasn’t constantly hauling in bulging net-loads of people, but He scattered bait everywhere He went, attracting multitudes. Now we are tossing nets out to catch them. I would never have imagined such a fulfilling business. It blesses us to do it but it benefits the newcomers far more when they start following Him.