Fishers of People

Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19 NKJV).

     The great hymn “Where He Leads Me I Will Follow” says:

I can hear my Savior calling,

I can hear my Savior calling,

I can hear my Savior calling,

“Take Thy cross and follow follow me.”

This old hymn expresses what it means to be a Christian. A Christian is someone who follows Jesus. “Follow me” means placing ourselves in submission under Christ’s authority and living in obedience to Him as our Master. It means being like yoked oxen who labor in His service; living with obedience to His mission. Every obligation that Jesus imposed on His disciples then are imposed upon us now. We must regard Him as the Master of our lives and be willing to follow Him wherever He leads and trust Him with our lives.

     In Matthew, the theme of mission is prominent, for every disciple is a disciple-maker. Each one of us have one mission—to fish for men and make disciples. This is integral to why He called us in the first place. Every follower of Jesus is a fisher of men. Sean Douglas O’Donnell explains that “Christ’s call is more than our own salvation; it is a call for the salvation of others.”1 Suzanne Diétrich puts it well when she writes: “It is no longer a question of taking fish from the lake, but of drawing men up out of the abyss of sin and death, catching them in the great net of God!”2 At the close of Matthew’s Gospel, this message, this mission remains front and center. Jesus commanded them and commands us, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (28:19). We need to be reminded that the Great Commission and the call to fish for men are not just every Christian’s responsibility, but their privilege. We need to see ourselves as disciple-makers.

     How can we make disciples? We can’t. We need Jesus to make us what we cannot be in and of ourselves. The words “I will make” depict Jesus as the empowering agent; we are simply to follow, and He makes us fishers of men. The advancement of the gospel comes about as the Spirit of God uses each of us to accomplish His grand and global purpose.

     The Master requires His disciples to give him their allegiance, daily count the cost of commitment, and serve others as He did. The Old Testament pictures God fishing for men, harvesting them for judgment:

“I am about to send for many fishermen”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“and they will fish for them. Then I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and out of the clefts of the rocks” (Jer. 16:16).

“I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your streams cling to your scales. I will haul you up from the middle of your Nile, and all the fish of your streams will cling to your scales. I will leave you in the desert, you and all the fish of your streams. You will fall on the open ground and will not be taken away or gathered for burial. I have given you to the wild creatures of the earth and the birds of the sky as food” (Ezek. 29:4-5).

“The Lord God has sworn by his holiness: Look, the days are coming when you will be taken away with hooks, every last one of you with fishhooks” (Amos 4:2).

Gathering souls is urgent because judgment is coming, so the Master’s followers are to bring people in while there is still time.

     As disciples we not only learn from Him but will bring others into living contact with God. Our obedience to the lordship of Christ is evidenced by our carrying forth the mission to which He has committed us. Many of us have made a commitment to Jesus Christ, but have we given our lives over to His leadership?

1 Sean Douglas O’Donnell, Preaching the Word – Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 96.

2 Suzanne de Diétrich, The Layman’s Bible Commentary VOLUME 16 the Gospel According to Matthew (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1961).

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.

Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at

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