The Signs of the Times



May 6, 1908

“Follow Me, and I Will Make You Fishers of Men”


And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake; but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.” ST May 6, 1908, par. 1

The discourse ended, Jesus turned to Peter, and bade him launch out into the sea, and let down his net for a draft; but Peter was disheartened. All night he had taken nothing. During the lonely hours he had thought of the fate of John the Baptist, who was languishing alone in his dungeon. He had thought of the prospect before Jesus and His followers, and of the ill-success of the mission to Judea, and the malice of the priests and rabbis. Even his own occupation had failed him; and as he watched by the empty nets, the future had seemed dark with discouragement. “Master,” he said, “we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net.” ST May 6, 1908, par. 2

Night was the only favorable time for fishing with nets in the clear waters of the lake. After toiling all night without success, it seemed hopeless to cast the net by day; but Jesus had given the command, and love for their Master moved the disciples to obey. Simon and his brother together let down the net. As they attempted to draw it in, so great was the quantity of fish enclosed that it began to break. They were obliged to summon James and John to their aid. When the catch was secured, both the boats were so heavily laden that they were in danger of sinking. ST May 6, 1908, par. 3

But Peter was unmindful now of boats or lading. This miracle, above any other he had ever witnessed, was to him a manifestation of divine power. In Jesus he saw One who held all nature under His control. The presence of Divinity revealed his own unholiness. Love for his Master, shame for his own unbelief, gratitude for the condescension of Christ, above all, the sense of his uncleanness in the presence of infinite purity, overwhelmed him. While his companions were securing the contents of the net, Peter fell at the Saviour's feet exclaiming, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” ST May 6, 1908, par. 4

Altho Peter said to Christ, “Depart from me,” he still clung to the Saviour's knees, feeling that he could not be parted from Him. “And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” When they had brought their ships to land, Peter and his companions forsook all, and followed Jesus. Thus were these humble fishermen called by the God of heaven to their life-work. ST May 6, 1908, par. 5

Every one who in living faith follows Jesus, with an eye single to His glory, will see of the salvation of God just as surely as these discouraged fishermen saw their boats filled by the miraculous draft. It was because Christ was in the ship that they were successful in their efforts to catch fish. The indwelling presence of the Saviour is equally necessary in the work of winning souls. ST May 6, 1908, par. 6

In order to save the fallen race, Christ, the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, laid aside His royal robe and kingly crown, clothed His divinity with humanity, and came to this earth as our Redeemer. Here He lived as a Man among men, meeting the temptations that we must meet, and overcoming thru strength from above. By His sinless life He demonstrated that thru the power of God it is possible for man to withstand Satan's temptations. ST May 6, 1908, par. 7

We may endeavor to resist temptation in our own strength, doing our best to overcome; but we shall meet with disappointment after disappointment. And thus it is in our efforts to win men and women to the Saviour. Dependence on our own wisdom will result in repeated failure, causing us much anxiety and sorrow. This was the condition of mind in which Christ found the fishermen on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, after their night of unrewarded labor. ST May 6, 1908, par. 8

Long had the fishermen toiled that night; often had they been disappointed, as time and again the net was drawn up empty. But now, at the bidding of the Divine One, they launched out into the deep, and once more cast their net into the sea. And what an abundance of fish they gathered! The sight of the miraculous draft swept away their unbelief, and they were ready to respond to the Saviour's invitation to follow Him, and learn to be fishers of men. ST May 6, 1908, par. 9

The breaking net, the sinking ship, the surprise and gratitude of Peter and his companions, their willingness to follow the Saviour and to do His bidding—all these are object-lessons for us in the work of soul-saving. However long and faithfully we may toil in our human strength, we can hope for no results for good; but as soon as we welcome Christ into the heart, He works with and thru us for the salvation of souls. ST May 6, 1908, par. 10

God has promised to cooperate with those who choose to labor in harmony with His purpose. We are to do our utmost to act our part faithfully, in order that He may demonstrate to the world what He can do thru us. “Ye are laborers together with God,” He declares. It is God that gives success to human endeavor. Without His presence with us, our efforts would amount to nothing. We are simply channels thru which His blessings flow to our fellow beings. From every one in whose heart Christ is an abiding presence, will go forth a power that will influence others to accept the Saviour as their Redeemer. ST May 6, 1908, par. 11