Summary: Jesus called Andrew and Peter to be "fishers of men"
Fishers of Men - Matthew 4:12-4:22
Story: A vicar was retiring after 25 years in the parish. As he came to clear out his bedroom, he found a small bowl with 5 eggs and £1,000 pounds in.
Baffled he called his wife and said: Darling, what is this little basket under the bed with five eggs and £1,000 in.
"Oh " she said " I must confess that everytime you preached a bad sermon, I put an egg in the basket"
Secretly the vicar was quite pleased: "Not bad, he thought ” five bad sermons in 25 years"
"And what about the £1,000?"
"Well every time I get a dozen, I sell them!"
These vicars’ wives have a way of making us
feel so wanted!
Life is full of little surprises! And I think the way that Jesus called Andrew and Peter - in this morning’s Gospel - would have been a surprise to them.
Why - because Jesus called them to be “fishers of men”
Why “fishers of men” you might ask?
I think that it was more than just a pun on their occupation as fishermen.
It was more than simply calling Andrew and Simon Peter to a new trade.
I believe the phrase "fishers of men" gives us insights into the character required of Christ’s disciples.
What character traits would a first century fisherman on the Lake of Galilee have to have had?
Well, I can think of three if he was going to make a living out of fishing:
Perhaps a simple way to remember these 3 character traits is by the pneumonic A.C.T.
1. The first character trait was ADAPTABILITY
Fishermen on Lake Galilee had to be adaptable depending on what mass of fish was in their part of the lake that day.
Let me explain. There were three main methods of fishing.
1.1 Use of baited hooks
One method would have been the use of
baited hooks – used for catching individual fish.
We see reference to this method of fishing made in Mt. 17. The collectors of the Temple Tax came to Peter and demanded Jesus’ Temple tax. Jesus, you will recall, tells Peter to go out on the lake and to cast a baited hook into the lake
“ Take the first fish that you catch;” Jesus said
“open its mouth and you will find a four drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” (Mt. 17:27)
1.2. Use of the Cast Net
The second common mode of fishing was to use a cast net.
There were two types of cast net
1.2.1. The first was a simple cast net - in the form of a bag, coming to a point at the bottom.
Its mouth was about 3 foot in diameter - with weights around it. The weights kept it open - when it was thrown and closed it - when it sank.
It was with these nets that Peter and Andrew were fishing - when Jesus called them to follow him in this morning’s Gospel lesson.
1.2.2. The other cast net was too heavy to be thrown. And so it would only be used by fishermen when they found themselves in the midst of a shoal.
This type of cast net was referred to in Jn 21 in one of Jesus’ post Resurrection appearances. Peter and the others had been out fishing all night - and found nothing. Jesus appeared to them at daybreak and asked them if they have caught anything. They answered no.
Jesus then told them to “throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some” and they were amazed to catch 153 large fish. (Jn 21:6)
1.3 Use of a seine net
The third common mode of fishing was with a long seine or drag net. This would be drawn behind a boat - with floats on the top - and weights on the bottom.
It was this net that was referred to in Mt. 13 in the Parable of the Nets when Jesus said:
“Once again the Kingdom of God is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. And when it was full the fishermen came and pulled it up on shore.”
A fisherman had to be adaptable with the use of his fishing equipment
It was no good going out with fishing equipment that was inappropriate for the mass of fish in your part of the lake.
Sadly many of our churches are still “fishing for men” with the wrong fishing equipment.
2. The second Character trait of a fisherman was COURAGE
Fishermen on the lake of Galilee had to be courageous and tough.
The Lake of Galilee was famous for the speed at which a storm could whip up. This is due to the mountains that surround the lake.