Fishers of Men?
“But now I am sending for many fishermen who will catch them,” says the LORD. “I am sending for hunters who will hunt them down in the mountains, hills, and caves.”
Jeremiah 16, like its preceding chapters, foretells the judgment of God that is coming upon the children of God. For generations, they had been unfaithful to the Lord, worshiping other gods and failing to obey God’s word (16:11). Soon they would be overthrown by the Babylonians, with many Israelites forced into exile.
But, in time, God would bring his people back to their land (16:14-15). Before this day of restoration, however, the Lord promised to send “many fishermen who will catch them” (16:16). These “fishermen,” along with many “hunters,” would make sure that no Israelite escapes the judgment of God (16:16-17).
How ironic that, when the time of God’s promised deliverance began, the metaphor of fishing reappeared. This time, Jesus called followers who would “fish for people” (Mark 1:17). Yet they were not executing God’s judgment. Rather, they were bringing the good news of the kingdom of God, backing up this news with works of compassion and power. The promised time of restoration had finally come. The disciples of Jesus were to seek out people so as to “catch” them for the kingdom.
We who follow Jesus continue the work of the first disciples. We also fish for people by speaking of the Gospel and by living out this good news in our daily lives. We tell people that God loves them and demonstrate this love in our own actions. We speak of God’s forgiveness and show this reality by forgiving those who wrong us. We proclaim God’s justice and seek to treat all people justly. In word and work, we fish for people so that they might live under God’s reign and join the kingdom of evangelical fishermen.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you “fish” for people in your life? What might you do today to live out the good news of the Gospel?
PRAYER: How grateful I am, Lord, that the fishermen of the new covenant are gathering people for salvation, not for judgment. Yes, part of the Gospel involves the bad news of our sin and your judgment. But this prepares us to hear the good news of your forgiveness in Christ.
Thank you, dear Lord, for “catching” me in the net of your grace. Thank you for calling me to be one of your fishermen. Help me, by your Spirit, to fish faithfully each day. No matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing, may I demonstrate the Gospel in the way I live. And may I find ways to share the good news naturally and winsomely.
All praise be to you, O God, because you are a God of justice and mercy, of judgment and love. Amen.