Fish, Fishermen and Boats . . . Part II

Whaaaat??!! Boys . . . Where Are You Going. . . ??!

Rev. Sudha Mehta©

fishermen-in-boats-pulling-fishing-nets-kerala-india photo from videoblock

Fishing from cast net Photo from Wikimedia

Mark 1: 16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said to them, Come you after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. 19 And when he had gone a little farther there, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. 20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.(AKJV)

As Jesus began His ministry after He was baptized by John, He picked His team. Peter and Andrew were in process of casting a net. They had already met Him before He came calling.

John 1: 35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus walking by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 37 And when the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.38 Jesus turned and saw them following. “What do you want?” He asked.

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are You staying?”39 “Come and see,” He replied. So they went and saw where He was staying, and spent that day with Him. It was about the tenth hour. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s testimony and followed Jesus. 41 He first found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated as Christ).

42 Andrew brought him to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated as Peter).(BSB)

Peter’s name was changed at this point from Simon to Peter(Cephas)

In my posts listed below, you will learn that these men were waiting, anticipating Messiah to come. I hope you will take the time to read my series listed, it will be very helpful to you in understanding the times they lived in, and their anticipation.

I have shared in a previous post that the disciples were not poor ignorant fishermen.

Holy Trinity Seminary . . . Part I

Holy Trinity Seminary . . . Part II

Holy Trinity Seminary . . . Part III

Holy Trinity Seminary . . . Part IV

Today I would like to show you a little more.

Jesus sees James and John the sons of Zebedee. These men were all partners in the business. (Luke 5:10). It is reasonable to assume they were trusted friends also. A reminder at this time is necessary, that James and John were Jesus’ cousins. Salome, their mother was the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus, so Zebedee was Jesus’ uncle. They did not leave to follow a stranger, but someone they knew as family. I am sure they knew about the virgin birth and His upbringing. Wouldn’t you? If you were cousins, and family??

These two brothers were sitting mending their nets when they were called. it is not just a net, but more than one. Fishermen went out prepared with nets to catch plenty of fish. The point here is that this was their livelihood, not a hobby.

I like to watch Alaskan fishermen on TV. When they go out on the seas in their trawlers, these men work hard at what they do. They are a hardy bunch. They have to be to survive on the rough seas. Fishing being their livelihood, they have to work hard in extreme conditions. The catch has to be large enough to bring a decent income to provide for the family, to pay the bills. They have bills just like you and me. Mortgages, taxes, power, phone, food, clothes, diapers for the baby, medical bills . . . on and on. We all have them. Fishermen that have been in the business a while may be able to invest in a good size boat of their own, but very often these men work for hire. They can’t afford a boat of their own so they look for a job in the business.

Young-Fishermen photo from Anchorage Daily news.jpg

Alaskan fishing boat Photo from Anchorage Daily News

It was no different in Jesus time. The bills may have different, i.e. they didn’t have electric and phone bills, but they had plenty of bills nonetheless. Taxes alone were astronomical . . . remember, it was the Roman government they lived under. They were not free. The government taxes had to be paid. In addition they also had to tithe 10% to  the Temple, and give offerings as they could. Jewish Law and Roman Law had to be followed.

The Roman government exacted a lot of money from all, and on top of that the corrupt tax-collectors had freedom to charge whatever they could in addition to line their own pockets. This was how the Roman Government incentivized the Jews to work for them. So the tax collectors came to be hated in their own community by their own people, for corruption was the name of the game. Matthew the apostle was a tax collector when Jesus called Him. Think about it, Matthew was a Levite which meant he was of the priestly tribe. No reason to believe that he did not know the Word. Yet money is a great incentive to so many. I am sure you know people as I do that have been willing to “sell” their souls for the love of money. Matthew had his eyes opened when Jesus said, “Follow me”  . . . didn’t he?! I find it interesting that Jesus did not pick him to be the treasurer of His Ministry, but chose Judas instead. Matthew would have been an easy choice, yet He picked Judas who stole from the funds, and then betrayed Him. There was a divine purpose . . .

jesus-matthew photo from free bible images

Jesus-matthew photo from free bible images

Getting back to our scripture:

Mark 1: 20 And straightway He called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.(AKJV)

Fisherman repairing fishing net.

fisherman mending nets photo from istockphoto

They left when called, and note that they had hired men to carry on the work with their father. These would be the same as men today working for a fishing business.

Here is one very important observation . . . I do not read that their father Zebedee complained. He could have said,

Whaaaat??!! Boys . . . Where Are You Going. . . ??! Are you just going to walk away and leave me, an old man to take care of the business? Are you crazy? Who is going to take care of your mother and me? What about your families? . . .

None of this is indicated. On another occasion (Mark 8:14) when Jesus goes with Peter and the other disciples to Peter’s home, Peter’s mother-in-law is sick with a fever. Jesus walks in, touches and heals her, and she immediately gets up and starts serving her guests. No complaining from her either!

Later in Matthew 20:21 Salome, the mother of James and John approaches Jesus to ask a big favor of Him. She wants her sons to have coveted positions in Jesus’ Kingdom . . . to be seated at the right and left of Jesus! No complaining about her sons leaving the business to follow Jesus, instead an expectation that Jesus as Messiah was going to set up His kingdom.

Here is the point to reiterate today: Jewish families of that time were praying and awaiting the Messiah. The Nation of Israel had been oppressed for over four hundred years and these people knew from Scriptures that the Messiah was to come. They were praying and waiting. These parents knew the Scriptures sufficiently to accept and welcome their sons following Jesus even though it meant a sacrifice for them.

They understood the call to become “Fishers of men.”

The price paid in following God is well worth it on the other side. Each of these men, with the exception of John died a violent death for the cause of Jesus and His Gospel. Each of these men, through their labor brought many to Christ.  John went through intense persecution, but didn’t die . . . or shall we say, they couldn’t kill him. He was sent to the island of Patmos, but the Lord gave him the Book of Revelation to write. He remained busy until the end.

isle of patmos phot from pinterest

isle of patmos phot from pinterest

Today, my friends, the work continues. As a teacher, I build on the labor of the apostles. They are in Heaven, but the Books the Lord had them write continue to give direction. The whole Bible is a treasure trove to study.

He called me to be a “Fisher of men (people).” The price of His calling may seem intense here, and I too have paid a heavy price in many ways, but I can tell you this: It is well worth it.

I can say with confidence:

2 Timothy 1: 12b for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.(KJV)

I can also with confidence say that we are all called to be “Fishers of men (people).” No matter what our professions might be, or our circle of influence . . . we are all called to live for Him, be examples of His love and grace, and to share the Gospel through our walk and talk.

Many of you around the World have and are paying a much heavier cost for your faith. While I have no intention of making light of your suffering, and have every reason to pray for you, I would like you to be encouraged in your faith knowing the same God who looks out for me, also looks out for you. Brothers and sisters around the World, I pray God’s richest blessing over you.

Father, thank You for watching over Your children around the World. May your children know your watchcare even in the greatest of life’s storms. May they know your peace that surpasses all human understanding. May they have the confidence of the Psalmist who said:

Psalm 91: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say to the LORD, “You are my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”(BSB)

fort-lath phot from 1001

fort-lath phot from 1001

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.(BSB)

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