“And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:10-11)
Every time I read this verse, it always hits me hard. Here you have a total identity transformation. Simon Peter, James and John (and the other disciples) left everything to follow Jesus. It’s not that they would never fish again, it’s just that their new business was the Master’s business. And the Master’s men were in the business of catching men.
So how do you go about catching men? Obviously, salvation is totally a work of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), but God still uses us (His people) to reach others as we faithfully proclaim the gospel. When God graciously grants salvation, a remarkable transformation takes place. As Paul tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When God catches a man or woman, they inherit a new identity. The focus of their past life (whatever it was) will not be the focus of their future life. Now, a new agenda will govern their lives. In short, that agenda is other people. This is where “catching men” comes into play.
Before he left them, Jesus reminded his disciples of this. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Thus ends Matthew’s gospel.
To summarize, the disciples were to make more disciples. The Master’s men were to catch other men and women, baptize them, and teach them the whole counsel of God. This is pretty simple, especially when it is done in the power of the Holy Spirit. Even today, our mission remains the same. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are in the business of making more disciples. Modern day Christianity often tries to take a simple thing and make it complicated. The so-called “church growth” experts will give you 100 different ways to build a church. But Jesus only taught us one way. He said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). How? One disciple at a time.