Reflections: The Third Sunday of Epiphany

January 21, 2024 

Today’s Reading: Mark 1:14-20

Daily Lectionary: Joel 1:1-20; Romans 10:1-21

And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What does it mean to be a “fisher of men?” Certainly, Jesus doesn’t call Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew to wrap people up in nets or to put hooks in anyone’s mouth. This figure of speech shows that Jesus will turn ordinary fishermen into something else.  Now, these fishermen will spend their time “catching” people. That sounds manipulative. Perhaps “catching” is better understood as teaching or confessing to people. Evangelizing (the Greek word for “Gospelizing”) is another good understanding. No longer would fish be the focus of these men, but the faith delivered to God’s saints.

It’s easy to start thinking about how these men, and even you, would be fishers of men and how you might do it better. But the way that Jesus speaks to the disciples is really, really important.  Jesus said, “I will make you become fishers of men.” This work of teaching, confessing, and evangelizing isn’t about your skills and abilities. This is not something that you develop in yourself. This way of life, being a fisher of men, is something that Jesus does for you.  You don’t need to worry about improving your skills as you fish for people, but you simply hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Jesus brings His gospel to you, speaking into your ears the forgiveness of sins. It’s for you, today, as you attend the Divine Service. Jesus comes to you, probably not in a boat, but in a sanctuary. He calls you away from your sinfulness to the holiness that He provides. He gives you that holiness through His forgiveness when you hear it in the absolution and the sermon and when you receive His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. There, He develops you to be a fisher of men. When you confess the Creed with your fellow Christians, you are practicing the “fisher of men” skills that Jesus is developing in you.

Confessing your faith can be scary. Christians sometimes worry that their skills aren’t good enough or that they won’t know what to say or that someone won’t be impressed with how they speak about Jesus.  Those fears often focus on you and how you confess the faith. Instead of self-centeredness, focus on Jesus. He is the one who comes to you to make you a fisher of men. He is the one who has transformed you, not just from a fisherman to a fisher-of-men, but from a sinner to one of His beloved saints – and that makes all the difference!  In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

-Pastor Peter W. Ill is pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Millstadt, Illinois.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Jonathan Lackey is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Vine Grove, Ky.

The Lutheran Reader’s Bible helps you develop a habit of devotion and Bible reading so you can slowly but intentionally understand and grow in God’s Word. Through introductions to the sixty-six books of the Bible, guided reading plans, and more, this Bible builds your confidence to study Scripture on your own.