Mark 1:16-17 “Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”

Why did Jesus begin his earthly ministry by calling and associating closely with simple fishermen instead of the power-brokers of His day?  The answer is found in His purpose-“to seek and save that which was lost.”  Too often we view personal evangelism as a science that is “too tough” or “too technical” for people like us, and therefore, we settle for not reproducing-a trait that should be true of every healthy adult whether that be physically or spiritually.  While it must include certain key elements such as the Word and the Spirit, I am learning that it is ultimately as much an art as a science.

According to MacDonald, fishing is an art, and so is soul-winning with the following parallels:

It requires patience. Often there are lonely hours of waiting.

It requires skill in the use of bait, lures or nets.

It requires discernment and common sense in going where the fish are running.

It requires persistence. A good fisherman is not easily discouraged.

It requires quietness. The best policy is to avoid disturbances and to keep self in the background.

This is list is convicting to me because it takes the focus off blaming the lost who have not changed in their blindness and resistance to the Gospel in the last two thousand years.  Instead, this analogy reminds me that the “fish not biting” in my ministry says less about the fish (those heathens) and more about the fisherman (me the disciple).  I assure you that any minister experiencing genuine, abundant fruit is “baiting the hook” with these tried and true characteristics.

But how do we practically develop the skillful art of soul-winning?  The next verse in Mark 1 answer that question: “And straightway they forsook their nets and followed Him.”  We become fishers of men by simply making an all-out commitment to follow Christ. The more like Him we are, the more successful we will be in winning others to Him.  He is the perfect, sum total of the aforementioned patience, skill, discernment, persistence, and quietness.  He did not embody those characteristics just to be admired; He did so to reach the world with the Gospel!  Set the bait/seize the opportunity by simply asking, “How would Jesus lovingly and strategically approach this dear, lost soul?”  Our responsibility is to follow Him; He will take care of the glorious masterpiece of redemption that He longs to paint in and through simple fishermen like us.

What other parallels do you observe between fishing and soul-winning?

MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1320). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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