Jesus wasted no time in explaining what it meant to be His disciple.
Jamus Edwards, pastor of Pleasant Valley Community Church in Owensboro, elaborated on that fact in the Monday morning session of the Western Kentucky Evangelism Conference in Princeton.
Preaching from Luke 5, Edwards said Jesus gave a one-sentence summary of what would be involved to be His disciple — to catch people.
Edwards said a “prerequisite for following Jesus is knowing we are signing up to be fishers of men. This is Christianity — sharing the gospel is not an option. Sharing the gospel is, by definition, what it means to follow Christ. Fans go to church; followers share the gospel.
“For Peter, James and John, their first encounter with Jesus was on the lake,” Edwards noted. “It wasn’t in church, seminary or Sunday school. Jesus launched his public ministry, and in Luke 4 and 5 He speaks with authority. In Luke 5, the moment Christ speaks an authoritative word, massive fish are in the nets. The real point is not the miracle of a great day on the lake. Jesus shows the purpose of the miracle — what it means to follow Christ.”
Edwards, a Cadiz native who grew up in East Cadiz Baptist Church, said when Jesus looked for disciples, He didn’t seek out men with theology degrees, “but for men who knew how to cast a line. He gives a job description — that followers of Christ are to be fishers of men. Sharing the gospel and saving souls is not advanced Christianity — it is Christianity.”
Jesus preached a message in this text from a boat, Edwards observed, “turning the fishing boat into a lifeboat.
“You don’t live the Christian life from the beach with your toes in the sand. No, our mission is to fill our lifeboat up with as many people as we can. Who is in your lifeboat? Who are you taking with you to heaven?”
He added that much more would be accomplished for the kingdom “if preachers and Christians would spend half as much time sharing the gospel as we do fighting with other Christians.”
He noted in verse 4, after the disciples had toiled all night and caught nothing, when they submitted to the authority of Christ and tried it His way, they caught a great number of fish. “If anybody could catch fish they could — but when Christ spoke and commanded the fish to relocate, they caught more fish than the boat could handle. We can share our faith until cows come home, and we should, but unless Christ does the work, nobody is going to be saved.”
The Apostle Paul said, “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation” and Edwards said “it is the gospel — not church growth strategies and gimmicks — but the gospel is the power of salvation. What the culture needs is not more rules from the church, no more dos and don’ts — the world needs the gospel. It is the message of the gospel alone that saves sinners.
“The Holy Spirit loves to come alongside with the gospel. God saves when the gospel goes forward … it is not a spiritual pep talk, but a divine bomb from heaven.”
This story originally appeared on Kentucky Today, the online news website of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.