Thursday, May 2, 2019

Fishers of Men

The King James Version of Matthew renders 3 verses from chapter 4 like this:

18. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

First, for non-speakers of Shakespearean English straightway means "immediately." Second, the sea of Galilee is an inland lake. Language and geography are not really that important to this incident, but the more you know the more you can know.
This is the great "call story." But there is more to this invitation to follow GOD the Son. No modern Bible contains what follows.

Joseph Smith added some wonderful context under the direction of the Holy Spirit (which is the mind of the Most High God and not a personage of anything, but that is another post for another day).

Joseph's "Inspired Version" explains the calling of the first 2 apostles with these words (the verse numbers are different because Joseph combined two earlier verses in chapter 4 into one in his translation).

17. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren,
Simon, called Peter, and Andrew, his brother casting a net into the sea;
for they were fishers.

18. And he said unto them, I am he of whom it is written by the prophets;

follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

19. And they, believing on his words left their net, 
and straightway followed him.

You might think that JESUS' commanding presence and the simple invitation is all He needed to get 1/6 of His apostles to join him. Isaiah 53 verse 2 has a passage that explains that people of JEHOVAH's day were not persuaded by his physical appearance or religious resume. 

New International Version Isaiah 53:2

...He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

No one followed Him then for superficial reasons. You were going against the state religion of Judaism and you were going to be a literal outcast. The cost to follow Him then was exponentially harder than it is today. Today it is common to wear a cross around your neck as your get out of a hell free card, while serving no one but yourself.

The JST makes it clear that CHRIST first told them that HE was the Messiah. Peter and Andrew would have understood that the only thing that the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible prophets ever talked about unitedly was the coming Savior. They heard this astounding proclamation and were courageous enough to leave behind their business and their home in an instant. HE was not asking them to sacrifice everything to follow HIM because He was handsome or popular or wealthy or any of the reasons modern people idolize (as in idolatry) present day celebrities. 

JESUS made the simple, yet truthful declaration that He was the Son of God. HE then left it up to the 2 brothers' spiritual discernment to decide what to do. HE did not compel them, HE did not tell a humorous anecdote, and HE did not tell an embellished "faith-promoting" story. One declarative sentence, followed by one imperative sentence with one promise. 

Fishing is a noble profession, and even today it is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Fishing for men is infinitely harder. Andrew and Peter to their credit, figured all of this out in less time that it took you to read this post.