Fishers of Men

written by Bradley Cole, CBC Deacon (May 11, 2024)

A group of families from our church spent last Saturday morning fishing together at several local ponds. As any good day begins, we started with locally baked donuts, some orange juice and fresh coffee. But before we set out, we all corralled around a few dropped tailgates with breakfast and Bibles in hand, to let Jesus teach us a little about fishing—for men, that is. 

It just seemed right to leverage a morning like ours to learn about evangelism. If we as disciples of Jesus are about to go fishing—for fish!—then we ought to stop first and think about what Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 10:17). It’s printed on hand towels, wall art, and coffee mugs. I hope it’s printed on our hearts. Following Jesus will always lead to a life of evangelism, sharing the gospel. As we set out for the ponds, I challenged our people to consider: What does it mean to be a fisher of men?

The Call to Follow

Context is king. In the preceding verses, we see Jesus strolling the banks of the Sea of Galilee, on purpose. He’s calling his first disciples, who would be his apostolic team. He comes first to Simon and his brother Andrew. They were fishermen, professional fishermen, who probably had sun baked skin, hands made strong by pulling in countless nets, and exuded an aroma akin to a seafood buffet. When Jesus extended a call to follow him, he met them where they were. He used familiar language, “Follow me, and I’ll make you fishers of men.” As if to say, you’re really good at catching fish, but I’m about catching men. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Jesus invited them to something with eternal significance. And what Jesus invited them to many years ago, he invites us today. Catching men. 


To share the gospel, the good news of who Jesus is and what he has done on the cross (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8), is the practice of “evangelism.” The word “evangel” is a transliteration of the Greek word for “good news.” Thus, to share the “good news” of Jesus is to be an “evangelist,” or we might say a man catcher. That’s what Jesus was talking about. Catching fish is winning souls (cf. Paul in 1 Cor. 9:22, “save some”).

We can draw many parallels between catching fish (I like a full hand-sized bream myself) and “catching men.” Here are a few I’ve observed:

1. There are no guarantees.

Those familiar with the art of fishing know that success is far from a guarantee. These future apostles casted their nets into the sea, time and time again, letting them sink out of sight. They held close to the promise that the net would yield a catch (cf., John 21:3). But, when we ask the Lord to guide us, pray over our labors, and seek to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), our labor becomes his. We can’t make fish jump into the boat, but we can ask the Lord to set the hook.

2. We practice patient persistence. 

Every fisherman knows that some days are slower than others. Just keep fishing. It’s the same with evangelism. Though our job is to cast the line, not set the hook (that’s the Spirit’s), fish don’t catch themselves. We must seek out the lost, from the “highways and hedges,” (Luke 14:23) the way the fisherman pursues the bass of a lifetime. Whether neighbors and friends, we go after them with the gospel. Many times, we pull in an empty net. Don’t be discouraged. Sometimes sticks and moss. That can be difficult. The important thing is that we keep trying, keep casting the nets. If we don’t catch fish, may it not be for a lack of effort. We trust that God will soon bless labor with a fish on the line.

3. Keep your equipment ready.

The advanced fisherman has the best lures, baits, and tackle. He is a strategist, who is always prepared. Disciples of Jesus should learn from the anglers of the world. If they know their business, we must know ours. But instead of beetle spins and whopper ploppers, we have our testimony, our love, and our faith, and most of all, the Bible and the Holy Spirit. We are to go, then, and be fishers of men (cf. Matt. 28:18-20). My dear Christian brothers and sisters, memorize Scripture, study apologetics, learn culture, stay fresh in prayer, pursue holiness, make relationships. Do those things that you know the Lord blessed. Strive to be useful. 

4. Expect great things.

Every cast has a chance. That 8-pound largemouth may be just beyond the log. The evangelist takes a similar attitude. Every conversation can lead to salvation. Every contact could lead to conversion. The next trophy for the Kingdom of God is just beyond our spoken word, our shared gospel. The next phone call, the next lunch invitation, may be what God used to bring someone to faith. It was William Carey (1761-1834), missionary to India, who said, “Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God.” So may it be said of us.

To be sure, we only catch fish when our hook is in the water. And so it is with every disciple who takes sharing the gospel seriously. The gospel is true, hell is real, God is good and time is short. May we have our Bibles open, and our mouths the same (Rom. 10:27). Let’s get to sharing Jesus (cf. John 4:35; Luke 10:2). I hear the fish are biting.

Are you a fisher of men?