Giving and living mercy
One of the Gospel lessons for Epiphany gives us a clear picture of what it means to be “fishers of men.”
Matthew reports that shortly after Jesus began His public ministry, He called to Peter and Andrew as they were fishing: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Shortly afterward, He also called James and John. Then He went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in synagogues, preaching the Gospel and healing people of all sorts of diseases and afflictions.
Jesus modeled for these first-called apostles what it means to bring God’s mercy to people in need. Matthew reports that word of what Jesus was doing reached the Gentiles in Syria, which was hundreds of miles away. Yet, they came. (I imagine that they carried loved ones on carts and stretchers, even as they do today in many parts of the world when the LCMS sends a Mercy Medical Team.) They came because they needed the mercy of God. Even though the Syrians had held Israel in disdain for hundreds of years, they humbled themselves because they were desperate to be healed.
What did they receive when they arrived? The compassion of Jesus. He cared for their souls as He preached the Gospel to them, and He healed them of their diseases and afflictions — some with only a word, others with a human touch.
As they received this mercy, many continued to follow Jesus. These acts of God in witness and mercy “caught” them. The Holy Spirit called them by the Gospel, even as He still does today. And they followed.
That is why we continue to connect The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s programs of mercy with our local congregations, our missionaries and our partner churches around the world. We continue the work of Jesus, which shows us what it means to be fishers of all people.
In Jesus’ name,
Rev. John Fale
Associate Executive Director of LCMS Mercy Operations