Kolar: Cast your nets wide and learn
"Jesus was a different type of fisherman, that’s for certain," writes Janel Kolar.
Matthew 4:19: And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."
The first disciples Jesus called were not the best students, not the most eloquent or charismatic “disciples”. They were men who had not been chosen to be tutored by any other rabbi. They were very ordinary people – fishermen – who had not “graduated” to formal education, and went into trade to make their living. Andrew, Peter, James and John were all fishermen, until, that is, Jesus called them as his disciples – called them to become “fishers of men”.
Fishing, for the disciples was not a hook-and-line hobby like it is for most of us. It was a way to make a living. It was their job. And they used nets, not fishing poles. Their nets were meant to maximize their time on the boat every day – to catch as many fish as possible in the time they had to fish. They also didn’t throw fish back, the way we do – if they are “undesirable” (one type of fish they caught was a catfish, which was ritually unclean for the Jewish people because they don’t have fins or scales) or too small. They kept everything and treated the fish accordingly, so that they could be used to feed their own communities or preserved in salt and shipped off to be used elsewhere.
I am certain Jesus taught them that as “fishers of men” it would be much the same. They would cast their nets and catch as many people as they could in the time they had. Then they would take whoever they caught whether they were big or small, Jew or Gentile, clean or unclean and find the best way to use them to build up the kingdom of heaven for Jesus. He certainly taught them this by his own example. He did not refuse to spend time with those who other “fishermen” would have tossed aside – the lame, lepers, the blind, those possessed by evil, the ritually unclean, Samaritans, women, tax collectors, even the oppressive Roman centurion, whose daughter was dying. He simply cast his own net as wide as he could and loved on whoever he caught in his sphere of influence.
Jesus was a different type of fisherman, that’s for certain. May we all learn to fish the way he did, casting our nets wide and learning how to love and serve all who enter them.