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Fishers of men: Jesus’s terrible but fitting metaphor for Jewish evangelism

April 25, 2018

In Matthew 4:18-19, it is written that “Jesus, walking by the shores of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen, and he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Luke 5:10 echos this statement, “And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men.

Most Christians simply read the above passages without giving them a second thought, or even find them inspiring and beautiful. However, to not a few Christians the above metaphor by Jesus appears somewhat undignified, if not outright embarrassing. It certainly casts the act of evangelism in quite a sinister light, when one truly thinks about it. But from a Jewish point of view, when it comes to evangelizing Jews, Jesus’s “fishing for men” is actually a perfect description of the whole process:

  1. The Gospel is a bait. It uses Jewish terminology for Christian concepts. The evangelist puts on a Jewish garb and uses Hebrew words. He promises a Jew that nothing bad will happen to him if he takes the bait, only good. He lures the unsuspecting and Jewishly-ignorant Jews with promises that what’s on the end of the line is the best thing for them ever. The evangelist to the Jews couches idolatrous concepts, such that G-d came as a man and that this man is worthy of worship due to G-d alone, in inviting Jewish garb, promising them that once believed, accepted and consumed, it will leave the “fish” satisfied. If only the fish knew in advance the true price it would pay, that is death, would it take the bait from the dishonest fisherman? Fishing is inherently deceptive to the fish.
  2. Once the fish is hooked or trapped in the net, it now finds it very hard if not impossible to escape. It’s rendered helpless and believes that there’s no way back. It is separated from other free-swimming fish and is now part of the catch. This fits perfectly with what happens with many newly-minted “Christian Jews”, who feel that the way back has been closed to them. They are now at the complete mercy of the fisherman, or the evangelist.
  3. The fish is slowly dragged out of their native environment. This is similar to a “converted” Jewish person separating from his Jewish family, friends and his former Jewish community, exchanging them all for their new “Body of Christ family”, which the evangelist promised is all that he now needs.
  4. The fish is now being suffocated in the environment alien to him. The converted Jew has started the process of embracing new ideas and traditions of Christendom and Christianity. He begins to lose his Jewish identity via assimilation.
  5. The fish dies. After all, all true Christians must “die” to their former selves. The Christian Jew “dies” too. He has been cut off from the life of the Jewish community and from other Jews, with whom his engagement is now virtually nil, except when he too turns into a “fisher of men”, that is of Jews who need to be “saved”. He is now ready to lure them into the same net and with the same bait he himself was once lured. He has intermarried and his children are not Jewish. He is Jewishly dead (which means that he is “alive in Christ”, according to his new Christian friend).

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. marko permalink
    May 11, 2018 12:08 am

    Still praying for you, Evgeny.

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