I noticed something in reading the accounts of Jesus’ life. After His temptation in the wilderness, He goes to Galilee and begins His earthly ministry. “Repent!” he declares and then He selects His first disciples. But what I observed was this: the very first thing that Jesus says to His very first disciples is, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Fishers of men: That means that he calls them to call others. Jesus calls them to be evangelists.
In Luke 5, Jesus is again by the Sea of Galilee teaching and He helps Peter bring in a huge catch of fish. Peter is astounded, realizing that this ordinary looking man is none other than the Messiah and the Son of God. This Jesus is God in human flesh and Simon Peter is overwhelmed as he falls down before Jesus in an act of worship. “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” But Jesus says, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men (Luke 5:11).” Catching men means Peter will be calling others to follow Jesus.
In Mark’s account, the same thing takes place, as Jesus calls His disciples and they leave everything to follow Him. “Follow Me and I will make you become fishers of men (Mark 1:17).” This is the first command He gives them, and fishers of men they become.
Observe that the first thing Jesus told His disciples was that they would become “fishers of men.” What does this mean except that they will be His witnesses and they will be evangelists for Him. They will be heralds of the gospel and will be casting out the gospel net to bring men and women into the Kingdom of God. It is key to notice that this is the very first thing that Jesus commands His disciples. From the very start, from the instant of their calling, it is clear that part of their calling included being a witness and an evangelist for the Lord Jesus. It was part of their responsibility as followers of Jesus to tell others about Him and to “proclaim His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9).” That’s just part of the calling. You will tell others about Jesus.
Now if the first thing that Jesus told His first disciples was that they would be fishers of men, what does that mean to us today? If the first thing Jesus told His first disciples was that they would be fishers of men, then the first thing that a new believer today should be taught is to fish for men. The new believer should be expected to share their faith with others so that they can be fishers of men. If the first thing that Jesus told His disciples was that they would become fishers of men, we should tell our new disciples that they are to be fishers of men.