St James the Apostle – Sermon 103

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ


Fishing – not every ones favourite pastime or occupation

to some – it’s a case of a worm at one end – and a fool at the other – but to catch fish – even with a net – takes a lot of skill and patience

We’ve all heard about the big one that got away – well in today’s NT reading we’re told about some big fish that didn’t

Jesus the Master fisherman – is out fishing for His disciples – and with John the Baptist in prison – He begins His search for the twelve – that will help Him catch the whole world – 

Point 1    Jesus- seeks His disciples

Jesus came to Galilee to proclaim the Gospel – and to announce the Good news-

“The time has arrived” – He said -“the kingdom of God is upon you – Repent and believe the Gospel”

Galilee was not the quiet back-water – (or tourist spot)- that it is now – In Jesus’ day – it was the centre of political and commercial life – with fishing one of its main industries –

Situated – on the main trade route – between Damascus and Egypt – it was home to a very cosmopolitan population – Syrians – Jews – Romans – with Greek – Hebrew and Aramaic spoken openly in the market place – a busy place of conflict – and racial pressures

Jesus wasn’t fishing – on the fringes – but in the centre of the shoal –

In this short verse – Jesus uses words and phrases that are constant help and reminder to us – in our walk of faith –

The time has come – says Jesus – the ancient prophecies announced by the OT prophets – have been fulfilled-

The Good News is that the kingdom of God is here – Jesus the King- has begun – His kingly reign – God is here amongst us through His Son and His Spirit – wanting us to accept His authority over our lives –

Repent means turning away from past ways – and turning towards the new ways given to us by Jesus – we have to change – do things God’s way – before its too late – or – as Jeremiah tells the church of his time – the consequences will be grim –
Believe the Gospel – read it – know it – trust it – it’s the foundation of our knowledge about Jesus – and God – Becoming a believer – means God has taken His word – and written it onto our hearts – so that above everything else – we want to please Him- and follow His will

The heart of the gospel message is that God has reached out through His Son – and met our deepest need – Through the cross and resurrection of Jesus – we have been found and rescued – and put on a road that leads directly to God – through the cross we see how much God really loves us – and what forgiveness really means –

Jesus has authority over all areas of life – teaching – demons – disease – people – His voice has the power to challenge and change us – but we have to decide now – not tomorrow – or the next day – but while He’s asking – while He’s with us –


Point 2     The disciples – called to faith

Listen to this short letter from James the Fisherman:

Andrew and Peter said they met Jesus – when they went down to Jericho – to hear the preacher everyone was talking about – called John – Andrew was one of his followers-

Andrew said – John had told him that – Jesus was the one – that everyone was waiting for – “The Messiah” – the one sent by God to rescue Israel –

Well he was so taken up with Him – he went to fetch Peter – and they both decided to travel back with Jesus to Galilee –

When they got back Jesus picked up John’s theme of repentance straight away – and Andrew and Peter went back to work – trouble was – they found it difficult to pick up the business again

We have this fishing business together you see – with my brother John and our father – Zebedee – its been doing quite well – lately – we’d had so much work – we’ve had to take people on –

Anyway – it was a big effort for them both – they were so taken up with – Jesus – they couldn’t stop talking about Him – said it was the way He spoke – the way He seemed to understand – what they were thinking – what they needed –

Not long after that – while we were cleaning the nets – who should come along – but Jesus – with Andrew and Peter in tow – its as if He came to find us –

He looked at us for a while – and then called out – “follow me’ – Andrew and Peter had both downed tools – and He wanted us to do the same –

well that was it – John and I looked at each other – and we jumped out of the boat – and off we went – we told father we’d see him later – but – somehow – well – the business didn’t quite have the same ring to it after that –

Jesus said – He had a purpose for each one of us – said He would make us “Fishers of men” –

Didn’t really know what He meant by that at the time – it was only after His death – and when we saw Him come back to life again – that we understood who He really was

Course its different now – so much has happened – so much has changed – I often think back to the time when we all had that fishing business together – Its been an amazing journey – but I wouldn’t have missed for the world –

Peter – Andrew – James and John – and the other Apostles – followed Jesus – not knowing what He was calling them to – or where their response might lead – for them – it was the beginning of a journey –of faith – and trust – and – they kept on following – even when it led to sacrifice – hostility – rejection – even death –

Following Jesus means much more than walking with Him – or learning to be like Him – it means getting to know Him as a person – trusting in the Masters voice –choosing a relationship with Him above everything else –

Committing ourselves to Jesus is a necessary first step – but its only the first step – becoming a disciple of Jesus is also about action –


Point 3      Us – called for action


We’ve just had a fisherman’s tale – lets have a look at a tale of some fishermen –

Now it came to pass – that there was a group who called themselves fishermen –

There were many fish in the waters around them – the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes – filled with fish – and the fish were hungry –
Week after week – month after month – year after year – the fishing club would meet together – to talk about their call to fish – how there were lots of fish of all sizes – to catch – young – old – little minnows – and how they might go out fishing for them –

They built large beautiful buildings – where they could hear about better ways to fish – and whether any new bait had been discovered –

They appointed committees – held meetings – to defend fishing – and even to decide where new streams should be built –

But one thing they didn’t do – was fish –

Many graduated in fishology – and were given fishing licenses – Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded – and were commended and sent to fish – sometimes in distant waters – but like the fishermen back home – they didn’t fish

Many of the fisherman sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties – in order to members of the fishing club – some lived near the water and had to put up with the smell of bad fish every day –

So imagine how hurt they were when the day came that the judge suggested – that those who don’t go fishing – were not really fishermen – no matter how much they claimed to be

Yet it did sound right – how can someone follow the master fisherman – if they don’t fish?

When is the last time we went fishing?

There are many ways and many places to fish – at work – at home – in the street – over the garden fence – through conversation – through our actions – by telling our story –

The choice is ours – He will give us all the strength and direction we need

Jesus calls us to follow – His lead – He fished in the main stream – we should too




The letters of the Greek word for fish – spell out Jesus Christ – Son of God – Saviour

He has a plan for each one of us – and it involves our commitment – to become fishers of men – to follow where He leads –

God doesn’t call fishermen – He makes them –

And if we are prepared to follow Him – He will make sure we make a catch of a lifetime


Prayer to finish


In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit