Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Jesus spoke a lot about fishing while he spent his time on Earth. Today, we are going to talk about evangelism for every day Christians.
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Watch the video of this teaching at https://www.celllifechurch.tv/evangelism-for-every-day-christians/
Fishing season is coming up where we live and soon the rivers and lakes will be filled with early fishermen hoping to come home with a nice catch for dinner. Jesus spoke a lot about fishing while he spent his time on Earth and several disciples were fishermen. Today, we are going to talk about becoming fishers of people.
We are going to look at two passages of scripture where Jesus calls his disciples to fish for people instead of fish.
Fishers of Men
First, let’s look at the first time he called this group of men in Matthew 4:18-20. We are going to read from the New King James Version as this may be more familiar to most of you:
(18) And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. (19) Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (20) They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
This initial call to these disciples was at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was walking along the shore and approached the fishermen. What is astonishing is that they were in the middle of conducting their job, doing what they do to make a living. Verse twenty says they immediately left their nets and followed him.
I don’t know about you, but my boss would not be too pleased if all of a sudden, I stopped what I was doing and left work for the day. But that is the power and authority of Jesus. These disciples knew there was something amazing about him.
Later, we learn that although they were disciples and learning from Jesus, they also went back to their jobs as fishermen. Jesus calls them once again. But this time, it was while performing a miracle. Let’s read Luke 5:4-10
(4) When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” (5) Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (6) When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. (7) So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. (8) When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (9) For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, (10) and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” (11) So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
At this point, the disciples had spent some time with Jesus, listening and learning from him. They had seen him perform miracles and had watched as he sought solitary places for prayer.
However, at this moment, Jesus performed a miracle. The fishermen had worked all night and had nothing to show for it. They had no fish to bring to the market to sell which meant no provision for themselves nor their families. These disciples, if there were any doubt, were shown that God would take care of them and reward their faithfulness for following His son.
Evangelism Can Be Scary
Evangelism is a scary word. It means going out of our comfort zones and setting ourselves up for possible rejection. Often, we don’t tell people about Jesus because of our insecurities. We feel inadequate, uneducated, or unqualified. We feel that we need all the answers and are afraid if we don’t have them.
We find ourselves asking whom do I go to? Where do I go? What do I say? As if there is a magical formula that ensures that people will say “yes” to Jesus if we follow a step-by-step plan. Today, we are here to encourage you to think differently about evangelism by following Jesus’ lead.
Evangelism has a process
As many of you know, Brian and I have jobs outside the church so that we can support the work of the ministry. In my employment, I am a trainer for my company.
When a new person is hired in a safety-sensitive position, our company conducts a nine-week training program to teach them the skills they need to conduct their job safely and effectively. It is similar to any occupation that requires a specialized skill.
During this training process, the first few weeks are learning the theory behind the skill. It’s important to teach the why before the how. This way, the employee will understand the procedures that are being introduced and how to safely navigate the new skill. The next step in training is to demonstrate and teach the skill. After that, the employee works on developing the skill and becoming more proficient. It isn’t until the last couple of weeks when they perform the skill on their own under the supervision of co-workers. And finally, once they demonstrate they can proficiently, efficiently, and safely, perform the new skill, they are released from training and enter into the company’s workforce.
Jesus has a process for evangelism as well. It’s not a procedure or a step-by-step process, but as we look at how he trained his disciples, we see a progression in their growth.
First, Jesus answers the why in his teaching in synagogues and delivering the Sermon on the Mount. We learn of salvation and God’s plan for redemption. Then, we see how Jesus demonstrated evangelism by showing love and compassion by meeting the needs of the people. We see how Jesus turned water into wine, healed the sick, fed the hungry, and restored sight to the blind.
Jesus even taught us how we need to leave our comfort zones and go to where the sinners are; the people who do not speak like us, look like us, or act like us. Let’s read Luke 19:1-10
(1) Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. (2) A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. (3) He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. (4) So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. (5) When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (6) So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. (7) All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” (8) But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (9) Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. (10) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Jesus went to those whom the world despised. The tax collectors were the thieves of the time. They were corrupt by taking more money from the people than what was required. Yet, Jesus chose to go to Zacchaeus’s home and meet with him.
Holy Spirit Empowers Us to Evangelize
Jesus left an example for us to follow but he also left us something to equip us, embolden us, and give us power. We read about this gift to us in Acts 1:4-8
(4) On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. (5) For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (6) Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (7) He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. (8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The example that Jesus left for us to follow he demonstrated and we can study as we read the Gospels. He gave us power by allowing us to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. By following his lead, we should have no fear nor be hesitant. He is the Good Teacher and we are the student.
If we yield to his Spirit, he will mold us into the evangelist he wants us to be at the time he wants us to be it. As we grow and change, the mission remains the same although the environment may change.
Today, in Kenya, Cell Life Church is providing medical clinics in the bush to treat malaria and jiggers. In Pakistan, the church is providing clothing and food to the poor and enslaved. In Zambia, Pastors Isaac and Chewie are providing much-needed personal hygiene supplies to children and young adults. Here, in the USA, the church is providing food for the hungry and helping with with supplies to those in need.
Friends, whether you are sharing Jesus with children, teenagers, the elderly, business people, those who are incarcerated, or others, we must follow Jesus’ example. We must meet the needs of people with love and compassion, while sharing the salvation message. What has God done in your life? How has he blessed you? How did he change your life? If you can answer these questions by sharing your answers with someone who does not know Jesus, you are evangelizing.