“Fishing for men” is all about grace!


We are really messed up. We read the words of Jesus as works, when we fail to realize, he was being Jewish.

Making someone a “fisher of men” has nothing to do with evangelism or getting people out of hell.

Jesus was quoting Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 16:16
“Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.”

He was referring to the restoration of Israel. That’s why Matthew spends considerable time about the lost of the first two tribes Zebulun and Naphtali.

He then spoke about how, now a great light has finally come.

Matthew would remind his listeners of the promises of God spoken to Ezekiel of how he will restore Israel as a shepherd. A restoration for the “ten lost tribes of Israel” who were deported by Assyrians seven centuries before Christ.

Through the prophet God promises that “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep” (Ezekiel 34:15) and deliver them from their bad shepherds as well as from their enemies.

The Pharisees considered themselves to be the true shepherds of Israel. But the reality is, they were Jews from the tribe of Judah, and didn’t care two hoots about the descendants of the northern kingdom of Israel. Zebulun and Naphtali.

Rabbi Akiva, a Pharisaic Rabbi, said, “The ten tribes will have no share in the life of the world to come.”

Matthew tells us for now he choses his first disciples.

Matthew 4:18-19

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

He wasn’t asking them to run crusades for him. He was telling them God is restoring Israel to glory as the long awaited King has come.

He chose Peter and Andrew as his first two. Matthew records this account as being the restoration of the loss of Zebulun and Naphtali.

Zebulun means “honor.” Naphtali means “struggle.”

Peter means “rock”.
Andrew means “man”.

Israel’s “honor” that was lost through its “struggles” would be restored by the “Man” who would firmly establish the glory of Israel on a “Rock” which all hell can’t consume.

He then would go on to appoint the other 10. 12 new apostles for 12 lost sons.

These sons would now fish for men.

Let’s read what Jeremiah said.

Jeremiah 16:13-16
Therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’

“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’

For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.

“Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.”

It is important for us to realize that these words have a motif of judgment. It is a hunt for people who have wronged God.

Jeremiah 16:17
For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes.

The interesting that what should have followed in Matthew’s gospel is this.

Jeremiah 16:18-20
But first I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.”

O Lord, my strength and my stronghold,
my refuge in the day of trouble,
to you shall the nations come
from the ends of the earth and say:
“Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies,
worthless things in which there is no profit.
Can man make for himself gods?
Such are not gods!”

Instead Matthew writes about healing and miracles.

Matthew 4:23
Jesus Ministers to Great Crowds
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

He brought grace instead of judgement. So the fishing became a fishing to call men out of a place of no favor, an exodus from a land of darkness. He was transporting them into a kingdom which is full of favor.

A new kingdom which is flowing not just with milk and honey but flowing with the Spirit.

It is a brand new kingdom.

Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Mathew then tells us how the restoration took place.

Matthew 4:24-25
So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

This little note may not mean much to you but I was raised to think “fishing for men” was saving people from hell.

I was told it is “packing heaven”. I was told God would judge me by the number of souls I populate in heaven.

Little did I know what Mathew was saying is that:

1. He would take what I had lost and restore it to fullness.

2. He was taking me out of a place where there is no favor to a place that was full of it.

3. He was taking me out a place that I was not allowed to cry to a place where my tears will be dried by him personally.

4. He was restoring the Sonship I lost to me.

5. He was providing an exodus for me from the land where I had to struggle to be honored to a place where I am lifted above the glory of angels.

Can you see? It’s grace. Grace. Grace. Grace. Grace.

I look at this passage and see myself as the lost son of Zebulun. My name is Simon. I am the bruised reed which he would not crush. He would be the rock I stand. He would make Peter.

I have been caught.

A fish in his great net of grace.

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