Why fishermen?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose fishermen to follow him? Here Jesus calls his first four disciples—fishermen all.

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5: 1-11 NIV

Fishermen did most of their work in the early hours of the morning. In this passage we see fishermen working in pairs—brothers. Although they may not have been great students of the law of Moses, they did know enough of the law to recognize Jesus’ authority and felt the burden of their sin in his presence.

But why did Jesus call these men? I don’t really know the answer.

Fishermen go out into the darkness casting bait or throwing nets beside their boat and then they wait. I assume they had to have patience to do their job.

Fishermen are also students of nature. They learn to read the sea, the sky, the seasons in order to know when and where to fish for the best catch. I assume they had to be observant and discerning.

Fishermen encounter storms and strong winds which endanger their lives—yet they persevere. I assume they had a sense of their own frailty—acknowledging their impotence over the power of the sea.

Jesus told them he’d make them fishers of men. He must’ve known their dispositions, their character, to want them to be in his most intimate acquaintance. Did he know they would need to persevere patiently proclaiming the kingdom of God?

Did Jesus call these four fishermen because they would need to be observant and discerning in order to recognize and remember his authority, love, and powerful ministry?

These four fishermen didn’t always understand the ways of Jesus. They had their own expectations of the Messiah. They were not perfect students. But they witnessed Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. And after receiving the Holy Spirit they performed miracles and led the early church. They wrote down the words of Jesus for our instruction, reproof, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3: 16).

Jesus chose fishermen. Jesus chose them—as he chooses us. And his presence changed their lives and eternal destiny.

” …you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NIV


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