A Possible Fishing Fallacy


Friends, please read the below passages carefully:

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Mat 4:18-20 ESV)

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13:47-50 ESV)

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." (Luke 5:1-4 ESV)

Jesus said to them, "Children, do you have any fish?" They answered him, "No." He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. (John 21:5-6 ESV)


Baiting the hook, giggling the bait, making the bait attractive, attracting the fish, etc. are images we see when we consider "hook-fishing."  Is this what Jesus meant when He said He’d make His disciples fishers of men?  

The passage normally used to justify this type of “fish-centered” fishing is this one:

However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself. (Matt 17:27 ESV)

Contextually, Christ is not at all referring to evangelism.  The subject of the passage is that as “the Son” he is free from the temple tax.  But to not give offense, he paid it anyway, for Himself and for Peter.  Regardless, it does not refer to Kingdom "hook" evangelism in the slightest, especially since Peter only “caught” one fish!  Conversely, the Gospels clearly show Kingdom fishing being more analogous to the use of nets. Why is this significant? Because it’s the difference between the preaching of the whole Gospel...trusting God to fill the nets, and the man-centered preaching of what we think the fish would like.

If I see my preaching and evangelizing “from the fish’s perspective,” I’ll try to lure the fish, tantalize the fish, make the bait attractive, not alarm the fish, not scare the fish away, etc.  But if I understand that “the Kingdom of heaven is like a net,” I’ll fish totally differently!  I’ll throw out the net, and trust the Law of God to "catch" up as many fish as the Lord of the Harvest would give, and the Grace of God to pull them up into the boat where Christ is, which to me is much kinder than a hook through the mouth.  LOL!  

I mean think about it.  For someone to be saved, they must understand their sin and see it as exceeding sinful.  They must embrace their own depravity when compared to the holy Law of God.  They must repent and cry out for forgiveness understanding that a lifetime of cross-bearing awaits.  Yes there is tremendous joy in all of that...but it's still not an attractive message.  The call to suffering never is (Acts 19:16; Php 1:29).  The cross is an offense (Gal 5:11).  It is a stumbling block to Jew and folly to Gentiles and all who are perishing (1 Cor 1:18, 23).  Christ Himself is called "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." (1 Pet 2:8)

The point is I'm wondering if thinking from the fish’s perspective is what Jesus had in mind as opposed to obediently casting the whole net, and letting the net itself do the work.  "Could it be both," you might ask?  Sure...that is certainly possible.  But a look at culture makes me want to start lookin for a net.....