And I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19)
David Brandt Berg
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When Jesus walked by the seashore, He called to the fishermen who had just caught the biggest, most miraculous catch of their lives, “Come now and follow Me!”1 It was as if He said, “That’s the most fish you’ll ever catch; that’s the ultimate! So you might as well come with Me now, and I’ll teach you how to catch something better.”
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him. And going on from thence, He saw … James and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.”2
They had such great faith that they forsook all and followed Jesus! How could they follow this stranger and His motley crew? Because He spoke the truth and they felt it was the very voice of God. Those stinking sons of fishermen wandered off with a perfect stranger and made history that has helped to save millions of souls for eternity! Isn’t it ridiculous now to compare those few fish, a boat, and a business with the millions of immortal souls who have been saved for eternity through the decision of those fishermen to put God first that day, drop everything, forsake all, and follow Jesus? Now that we can see the results, it’s easy to know they made the right choice.
It costs something to serve the Lord. He says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And thy neighbor as thyself.”3 He says these are the first and greatest of all the commandments in importance, and that you shall have no other gods before Him, for He is a jealous God.4 He desires your love and for you to love Him first of all, above all, and to seek first His kingdom.
A powerful sample of commitment and dedication and living for Jesus speaks louder and clearer than the sermons you may be preaching. This is often what will challenge and thrill and encourage and inspire others, when they see a dedicated, wholehearted example, and realize that you’re happy serving the Lord. After all, most people want something that is worth living for as well as worth dying for! As my mother used to say, “I’d rather die for something than live for nothing!” Are you looking for a challenge to really be able to give your life and yourself to something worthwhile? Why settle for something halfway and mediocre?
Don’t be like the rich young ruler, who came running to Jesus sincerely seeking answers, to whom Jesus said, “Go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and come, take up the cross and follow Me, and you shall have treasure in heaven.”5 When the young man heard this, it says that he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The saddest thing was that this young man’s riches hadn’t brought him happiness or satisfaction in the first place, or he wouldn’t have come running to Jesus begging for an answer. Yet when Jesus gave him the answer to life and love and happiness in forsaking all for Him and others, he went away still full of the sorrows that riches bring, back to his riches which had never satisfied. As rich as he was, he was still unable to pay the price of the joy of giving all!—Which, of course, shows that he loved things more than God. What a sad, sad story.
You don’t have to have very much to have “great possessions.” It only has to be a little bigger than God in your eyes, just big enough to keep you from serving Him, that’s all. Just enough to keep you from breaking loose and serving the Lord. And whether it’s fame, fortune, or fun, it will not be easy to give up, and usually the more you have, the harder it is to let go. But if you are willing to forsake a good thing for a better and a greater thing—like the picture of the little girl dropping her toy, totally losing interest in it, as she lifts her hand to receive a beautiful dove descending upon her finger—God will mightily bless you.
Jesus never forced anyone to follow Him. He only said, “Follow Me” and “Come and see.” He doesn’t draft you; you have to volunteer. He said, “Pray the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into the harvest.”6 He’ll be glad to send you if you’re willing. He likes wholehearted volunteers.
After all, Jesus gave His all. He came and suffered and bled and died for you to save your soul, to save your life for eternity. Jesus was willing to die for us to save us, and He wants us to be willing to die for Him to save others. He died for us and others, so He asks us to be willing to do the same. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”7
You are no longer your own. “Know ye not that ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price!—With the precious blood of Christ!”8 Jesus bought and paid for us. We’re His property, and we belong to Him now. My goodness, when Jesus did all that He did for us, of course we owe Him everything. Of course we should follow Him and try to win as many others as we can. We should certainly be willing to die for somebody who saves our life. That’s why His Word says, “I beseech you that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”9 It’s only our “reasonable service” to try to give our lives back to Jesus, seeing that He gave His for us.
He died to save us. Why should we not die to self to save others? In fact, the apostle says, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”10
Jesus Himself said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit!”11 And if we will “die daily” for the Lord in His service,12 we will bring forth much fruit—more Christians like ourselves to preach the gospel to more of the lost and win them to the Lord also, that He may have much more fruit.
“And He said to them all, if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it. For herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples.”13
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”14 Are you willing to “cheerfully give” your life to Jesus?
Compiled from the writings of David Brandt Berg, originally published February 1984. Adapted and republished June 2015. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
1 Matthew 4:19.
2 Matthew 4:18–22.
3 Matthew 22:37–40.
4 Exodus 20:3–5.
5 Matthew 19:21.
6 Matthew 9:38.
7 John 15:13.
8 1 Corinthians 6:19–20; 1 Peter 1:18–19.
9 Romans 12:1.
10 1 John 3:16.
11 John 12:24.
12 1 Corinthians 15:31.
13 Luke 9:23–24; John 15:8.
14 2 Corinthians 9:7.
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