Homily 2 – 1.26.20 – Fishing for People


Rev. John Callaway

We celebrate and honor the commitment of our deacon body—the diaconate. And although there was nothing about dancing in the job description, they have committed to us all that they will stay out on the dance floor and keep moving. We recognize that they have simultaneously chosen to follow and to lead. They are called to follow Jesus and to fish for people.

In this text and throughout the Gospels, I’ve often wondered what that really looked like for Jesus. What did it really look like to fish for people?

Have you ever asked the question, how many people said no?

How many people looked at Jesus and thought, are you serious?

We are talking a fisherman here, a group known to be particularly salty.

A group that has had some experiences.

A group that has met some characters.

How many people laughed in his face?

Just leave?

Just follow you?

Just drop whatever I’m doing?

We do have some would-be followers asking to follow Jesus in our Bibles, but for the most part, when Jesus asks it turns out like our text today. 

We have two accounts: “As he walked 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 fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 

As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.

Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.”

I recognize that we are talking about a worker of miracles here. Yes, we are talking about Jesus.

But if a really compelling individual walked up to you at work and said, “Follow me. Just leave whatever you are working on. Let’s go and not look back.” By show of hands, how many of you would stand up without question and follow—just drop everything and leave?

I’m not seeing any hands.

I’m with you. 

I’ve got to think that the Gospel writers were relaying a fishing story years later. I say years later because I think fishing stories sound a bit different a day later compared to years later. 

There was a large, spring-fed pond outside my house growing up that had brim, bass, carp, and a few catfish. I spent many-a-summer day sitting on the bank of the pond with my grandfather and my mother fishing. We were fishing, but most that time was spent listening to my Grandaddy tell fishing stories about the big fish or about the day he caught so many he had to stop early. He never did tell the one about the day that he used all of his bait and didn’t catch anything. He never did tell the one about getting his line caught in a tree and not really fishing at all. No, years later, the stories were all about the catch.

I often wonder about the Gospel writers sharing these stories. I’m so grateful that somebody dropped their nets and followed, but I also have a feeling there were many more that would have had the same reaction many of us would.

Diaconate, fishing for people requires patience. Fishing for people requires persistence. Fishing for people requires perseverance.

There are going to be times when dealing with the families you care for, dealing with your ministers, and dealing with others in general try your patience. 

We need you to keep fishing. We need you to be patient with us and to bring us along.

There are going to be times when the same idea needs to be brought up in meeting after meeting. There are going to be times when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere.

We need you to keep fishing. We need your persistence.

There are going to be times when negativity gets the best of someone in our congregation. There will be times when the work is hard, when the complaints are many, and a solution isn’t readily available.

We need you to keep fishing. We need your perseverance. 

Fishing for people and fishing with people won’t always be miraculous, but it will always do the work of bringing about the Kindom of God here on earth—little by little.

I started this sermon by wondering how many people said no.

Friends, the good news is…some people said yes.

Some people committed to fish for people.

Some committed to be Deacons at First Baptist Church.

Thanks be to God, for those that said yes.

Amen.