Summary: There are a few reasons 7 of the 12 first disciples were fishermen. They were not chosen by accident. They possess skills every Christian should strive to possess.
The Bible tells us 7 of the first 12 disciples were fishermen by trade. It is no accident Jesus chose these individuals to be his first disciples. As fishermen, these guys possessed characteristics every Christian should have. Here are 5 reasons Jesus chose fishermen.
1. Fishermen know how to take orders. These men took orders without questioning or debating. Here are 3 examples.
• When Jesus called Simon and Andrew, “at once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:18). At once was their response; an immediate reaction to Jesus’ calling.
• A night of fishing resulted in empty nets, Jesus told Simon to go to deep water and let down the nets. “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 their nets began to break” (Luke 5:5-6). “Because you say so” was good enough.
• A postresurrection appearance placed Jesus together with his disciples after a fruitless night of fishing. “He called out to them, ‘Friends haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish” (John 21:5-6). Listening to orders yielded great results.
While there is a time for questioning and debateing, fishermen know sometimes the difference between failure and success is the width of their boat and the time it takes to cross from one side of the boat to the other. They know when to simply take orders.
When Jesus said to cast their net on the other side of the boat, his disciples listened. Christians, too, need to develop the skill of taking orders from the Lord. It is okay to ask questions, but sometimes, situations call for simply taking orders. The Psalmist records the Lord saying, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
2. Fishermen know how to work together. Manually pulling in a net ful of fish is a hard task. Everyone on a boat works together to pull in the net. The crew works as a team to accomplish their goal. They do not let one person do all the work.
Scripture calls Christ’s followers to act in the same manner. We are one body with many parts, and each part is to do his or her work to accomplish one common goal – introducing the lost world to the message of Christ.
3. Fishermen are dedicated. Fishing requires a great deal of patience and dedication. Fishermen might go hours, perhaps days, without even a nibble. Giving up is not an option though. A fisherman’s dedication pushes the person to keep fishing.
Jesus knew what was ahead for his followers. He knew he needed followers who would not easily quit. The same is true today. Christians are called to pick up our cross and follow Christ daily. It is never promised life will be easy, but it is promised the Lord will care for us and Heaven will be worth the wait. As Christians, we must measure our dedication. Are we as dedicated as fishermen?
4. Fishermen are courageous. Fishing can require a person to travel into deep and treacherous waters. It was common in Jesus’ day for fishermen to be caught in fierce storms while on the open sea. It was their courage which pushed them to go back into the water after experiencing one of these storms. Much courage was required.
Much courage is required for the Christian. There are any number of circumstances that could cripple us with fear, but we must continue on the journey of life. This takes courage.
Did you know the most repeated command in Scripture is “do not fear?” The Lord knew life would be rough and tough, so he gives us an encouraging command to have courage in the face of fear. Psalm 46 reminds us the Lord is our refuge, strength, and protection. In him, we can master fear with courage. In him, we can have courage like fishermen.
5. Fishermen are skilled at using their equipment. Good fishermen have a tackle box filled with various bates and lures. Each one assigned a specific task. Fishermen know each one’s job and how to properly use it. They are skilled at using their equipment.
Like fishermen, Christians have some equipment at which we need to be skilled in using.
• God’s Word – We have Scripture. It is our double-edged sword.
Jesus shows us how to use our sword in Matthew 4. Jesus has just been baptized and is immediately led into the desert to be tempted. Satan tempts Jesus, and each time Jesus runs Satan off by quoting Scripture. There is great power in God’s Word, so Christians need to be skilled in using it.