Jesus made himself and his divine powers known to the world while he was in Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2:13-23). He soon returned home only to be rejected by his own brethren in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30). From there, he traveled to Capernaum where he cast out devils and healed many of the sick (Luke 4:31-44). It was time for him to choose his first personal disciples.
Jesus had made disciples already. There was Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael (John 1:35-49). Not to mention, other disciples which remained unnamed or only alluded to by the gospel writers. However, while teaching by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus chose four men–two of which were already disciples–to literally follow him during his earthly ministry (Luke 5:1-11).
Jesus was calling these four men to eventually be apostles. On the day he called them away from their lives as fishermen, he said they would become fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). Whatever role we have in the harvest (John 4:35), the Bible provides us with certain principles to follow. Keep in mind, while we labor, it is the Lord who provides the increase (1 Corinthians 3:7).
It all begins with the word of God
The people had heard about Christ. Many of them had seen his miracles. They desired to know more about him. They wanted to hear him teach. So, as he stood by the sea, the crowd pressed him to teach and declare the word of God (Luke 5:1).
If we are to get anywhere in the harvest–leading people to Christ and to the church–we must begin with the truth. Paul encouraged the Ephesian elders to declare the whole counsel of God and leave nothing out (Acts 20:26-28). That doesn’t mean we all need to be deep theologians. My favorite testimony of all the Bible simply said, “I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). It does mean we should not dumb down the truth or try to lure people with anything else.
Remember, the child of God, born of the Spirit, has the truth written in his heart (Romans 2:14-15). When he’s ready, he will crave the truth and we don’t need to offer anything but the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
Do what the Lord says to do
When Jesus approached Peter after Peter had spent the night unsuccessfully trying to catch fish, he tells him to go back out and drop the net again (Luke 5:2-4). Peter may have been apprehensive, but he proved himself to be willing (Luke 5:5).
Many disciples and many churches have failed in following the commandments of God. I don’t mean they’ve taken up idolatry or committed murder. I mean some have failed by doing things their own way and others have failed to do anything at all.
First of all, we should never add to what the Bible teaches us. Through the Bible, we’ve been given all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). There is often room for liberty, but our own ideas never trump the Lord’s (Proverbs 3:5). Peter might have thought it was better to wait until later to fish again, but he did as the Lord said anyway.
Second of all, we should always be very active in our harvest labors. We should be active in all of the duties the Lord has given us. However, there are times when our good works become stifled for many different reasons. We should not allow it (Galatians 6:9). Imagine if Peter has refused to go out fishing again.
Respond to blessings with humility
Once Peter had went out to the sea and dropped his nets again, the multitude of fish was so abundant that the nets began to break. John and James were nearby and they were called over to help. The weight of fish actually caused the boats to begin sinking. Peter immediately fell at Jesus’ knees and declared his unworthiness (Luke 5:6-8).
The time to declare our thankfulness and recognize our dependence upon the Lord is always. However, the natural tendency to do so is diminished when we feel like we have everything we need (Revelation 3:17). If we remain steadfast in the pure truth God has given us and we follow his commandments and principles, we are bound for blessings and success (Galatians 6:8). We must remember to remain humble and thankful. We must always admit our successes are due to God’s grace (1 Corinthians 15:10).
It is all about Christ
Jesus told the four fishermen, “Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” When they had seen what the Lord had done and heard his words, they brought their boats to shore, left everything behind, and followed him (Luke 5:10-11).
This is perhaps the most important lesson we could ever learn in life. It extends well beyond mere rules for leading others to Christ. Our faith, our hope, our religion, our lives–everything–it’s all about Jesus Christ.