Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘No,’ they answered.
He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’
When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (John 21:4-6)
While there were many fish to catch in the Sea of Tiberias where the disciples were casting their net, they were unsuccessful in their efforts. That is, until the presence of Jesus and obedience of His words changed everything.
Jesus calls us to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), in which He commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
While one of the core purposes of our life is to spread the gospel, we can’t do it without His presence and without obedience to His Word.
“Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
Similar to this fishing scene with the disciples, our own human efforts of casting a net (presenting Jesus) and reaping a harvest of souls is not entirely up to us. Out of obedience we are called to share the gospel, but it is up to God to change a person’s heart, not us.
“And I [the Lord] will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
Notice how it wasn’t until Jesus showed up and the disciples followed his very specific instructions on HOW and WHERE to cast their net, did the disciples find any success. His presence through the Holy Spirit, and our obedience to His instruction, makes all of the difference between trying to “persuade” someone through our own strength, vs. relying on God to move. We are to love and share, while God does the work of transformation.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9)
Brothers and sisters, we are called to be fishers of people, but be encouraged that we don’t have to go out to sea on our own! God simply calls us to obey in faith, while we trust the results to the Lord of the harvest.
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37)
[From January 21, 2019]