Matthew 4:19
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. From John 1. we learn that these men were previously called to discipleship. It was well that they should have a time of fellowship with Christ before they were further called to the service of Christ. Observe how the full idea of the Messiahship was gradually unfolded, stage by stage. Our Lord never hurried. He set a noble example of "doing the next thing;" and all the Divine plan for him gradually but surely unfolded. These men were fishers. Our Lord used a figure which was quite familiar to them, and would be very suggestive. These thoughts would surely have come to their minds. As the fish have to be gathered, to be skilfully gathered, and to be persistently gathered, so have men. Christ wants us to fish for men as, during these long years, we have fished in this lake for fish. Here will come in careful descriptions of the boats, nets, and methods of the fishermen of Galilee.

I. MEN HAVE TO BE GATHERED. Morally, and in view of their independence and self-willedness, men are like the fishes that roam free in the water, going this way or that at their own pleasure. But this freedom is moral peril. There are foes for men in their freedom, as there are for the fishes. Gather the fish and deliver them from their foes. Gather the men into the allegiance of Christ, and so deliver them from evil.

II. MEN HAVE TO BE SKILFULLY GATHERED. Few occupations involve more skill than fishing. The fisherman must judge the weather, decide on his net or line, adapt his bait, and know the habits of the creatures. So the Apostle Paul, as the great gospel fisherman, would make himself" all things to all men." Illustrate by the conversions recorded in the New Testament, pointing out how different were the methods used in each case in order to effect the ingathering.

III. MEN HAVE TO BE PERSISTENTLY GATHERED. Because there is a natural resistance which is too often successful, and must be dealt with again and again. Show where the fisher-figure fails. They who fish for men gather them in order that they may be everlastingly saved. - R.T.

Follow Me.
1. Follow Christ as your Teacher.

2. As your Example.

3. As your Friend.

4. If you see to the following what will Christ do?

(D. B. Hooke.)

1. These heavenly fishermen follow Christ personally.

2. They follow Him circumstantially.

3. They follow Him singly, with a single eye.

(H. Cole.)The great lesson of the text may be summed up in this — that successful work for Jesus must spring out of a devout imitation of Him. "Follow Me," etc. In the example of Christ there are two points which it is important to look at.

I. The estimate Jesus Christ gave to humanity in contrast with all the other objects that engaged His attention. In comparison with the claims of man, everything else was regarded as subsidiary.

II. His whole career was evolved from this central conception in regard to humanity. To save men — that was His mission. I must work — that was His motto. These thoughts were always present to His mind. Our grand central controlling purpose must be the imitation of the Master, in striving to become the servant of all.

1. Christian work must so far resemble Christ's work as to be inspired with the soul of earnestness.

2. The possession of yearning pity and interest in humanity.

3. The cultivation of a spirit of large self-denial.

4. Persistency in effort.

5. Prayer. Does this command stir your soul to nobler work and better service, etc.? What is your response?

(W. Kelynack.)

I. WHOM? .Not simply a human teacher, but Jesus, who qualified Himself by His earthly life, with its temptations, toil, and suffering, to be the efficient leader of men.

II. How? We cannot follow His person as the disciples did; but we may — Obey His precepts and copy His example.

III. WHY? We cannot direct our own course — there is no leader equal to Christ — if we follow Him we shall be in good company. Only thus can we escape spiritual danger and eternal death.

IV. WHITHER? To God: "I am the way," etc. To heaven: "In My:Father's house," etc.

V. WHEN? NOW. Always.

(Seeds and Saplings.)

In lower human forms this magnetic attraction of man on man is not unknown. It is the orator's power. The orators of revolutions — men like Mirabeau — are full charged with it; they are like jars laden with electric fire; there is that in their words which flashes out, and stirs, sways, and rules mankind. Christ constitutes in a still higher form the great Captain's power.

(J. B. Brown, B. A.)

Fishers of men.
I. The APPROPRIATENESS of the figure. The world is the sea, the scene of their labours.

II. The DUTY TO BE DISCHARGED. This net must be employed — constantly, diligently, skilfully.

1. Let the Christian fisherman rightly understand his net, and the appointed way of using it.

2. Let success be the grand object of attention.

3. Be cheerfully devoted to the work.

4. Our resources are infinite and exhaustless.

(Dr. Burns.)

1. To fish well, it is necessary to study the peculiarities of fish.

2. You must go to the fish.


It is necessary to know more than the science of ichthyology. What a book can tell a man about fishing is worth knowing, but it is little that a book can do towards making a man a true fisherman. If a man is going to fish for fish, he must become their scholar before he becomes their master; he must go to school in the brook, to learn its ways. And to fish for men, a man must learn their nature, their prejudices, their tendencies, and their courses. A man, to catch fish, must not only know their habits, but their tastes and their resorts; he must humour them according to their different natures, and adapt his instruments according to their peculiarities — providing a spear for some, a hook for others, a net for others, and baits for each one, as each one will. To sit on a bank or deck, and say to the fishes, "Here I am, authorized to command you to come to me and to bite what I give you," is just as ridiculous as it can be, even though it does resemble some ways of preaching. The Christian's business is not to stand in an appointed place and say to men, "Here am I; come up and take what I give you as you should." The Christian's business is to find out what men are, and to take them by that which they will bite at.


Christ came upon these men when they were busy at their everyday work. He saw them casting net into the sea. His eye is upon us in all the work we do in the world. And as:He looks upon us, so He calls us. It is true we may be so absorbed in other pursuits as not to hear the call.

I. What was His call? They were to leave their work that they .might engage in higher work.

II. How shall we hope to be successful?

1. We must follow Christ.

2. We must submit to His teaching and influence.

3. Christ only can qualify us for the work.

(A. Thomas.)

Whether, as He watched them putting out the net, He saw signs, which were indications to His penetrating and prophetic eye of fitness for the higher work to which they were to be called, we cannot tell. It is possible. For a very small thing will serve as a revelation of character to those who are keen-sighted, and who understand how the little is allied to the great. Just as a student like Owen will construct the entire skeleton if you give him a single bone, so the master, in the study of the human nature, will often be able to give a fair judgment of the whole character if he sees only what many would regard as casual and meaningless acts.

(A. Thomas.)

You cannot attend to many things at once. There may be a glow of heavenly light on the mountain-top, but it will be nothing to the man whose eyes are fixed on the path along which he is painfully toiling. There may be the sound of sweet music carried on the night breezes; but it will be lost upon those who are disputing loudly and striving angrily with each other.

(A. Thomas.)

1. A fisherman must be acquainted with the sea — we must know the locality in which we have to work.

2. A fisherman must also know how to allure fish.

3. The fisherman must be a man who can wait with patience.

4. A fisherman is one who must run hazards.

5. The fisherman must be one who has learned both how to persevere and how to expect.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I saw on Lake Come, when we visited Bellagio, some men fishing. They had torches burning in their boats, and the fish were attracted to them by the glare of the light. You must know how to get the fish together. You know there is such a thing as the ground-bait for the fishes. You must know how to allure men. The preacher does this by using images, symbols, and illustrations. You must know how to catch the fish, throwing out first.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A few years ago, on a wintry morning, a boy in the habiliments of poverty entered an old schoolhouse among our western mountains, and avowed to the master his desire for an education. There was poverty laying one of her richest gifts on the altar of religion, for that boy was Jonas King. On his humble shoemaker's bench, Carey laid the foundation of British Baptist Missions. John Newton found in his congregation an unfriended Scotch bey, whose soul was then glowing with new-born love to Christ. He took him to John Thornton, one of those noble merchants whose wealth, whose piety, and whose beneficence increased together. They educated him, and that boy became Claudius Buchanan, whose name India will bless when the names of Clive and Hastings are forgotten. John Bunyan was a gift of poverty to the Church. Zwingle came forth from an Alpine shepherd's cabin; Melanethon from an armourer's workshop; Luther from a miner's cottage; the apostles, some of them, from fishermen's huts. These are the gifts of poverty to the Church.

(Dr. d. Harris.)

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