Summary: Not even one of the twelve disciples had ever been a shepherd. Were shepherds scarce in Jesus day? Actually there were plenty of shepherds in that area of Palestine. Jesus intentionally avoided choosing shepherds to lead the Christian church. Jesus called
Over and over the Bible inquires Christian pastors to feed the sheep. Three times in John 21:15-17. Jesus instructs Simon Peter, "Feed My sheep....Take care of My sheep....Feed My Sheep." It was to the shepherds on the hillsides that the Heavenly Angels first appeared in glory to announce the birth of Jesus. God hand picked David the son of Jesse, a lowly shepherd boy, to be the leader of His people.
That’s the kind of leaders God wants. Obviously shepherds make great leaders. During Jesus’ ministry here on earth He was a shepherd: John 10:11, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." Again Jesus said in verse 14, "I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and My sheep know me.” So, Jesus was a Shepherd.
Jesus did not refer to Himself as the good fisherman but as the Good Shepherd! So why didn’t He choose shepherds as the future leaders of His church just like God did in the Old Testament? Why Fishermen and not Shepherds? (Don Gettys).
Many of the great leaders of God’s church in the OT were shepherds. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses; were all good shepherds. All of them were entrusted with leading the people of God before Jesus came.
The eastern shepherd was the quintessence of courageousness and dedication. They fearlessly cared for the flock of God that was entrusted into their care and keeping. Flocks of sheep became numerous and healthy under the tutelage of many a faithful hardworking shepherd. They cared for the new lambs and protected the growing flock from danger from predators.
How curious then for Jesus not to assign His New Testament Church with shepherds.
First: TO FULFILL THE PROPHECY - Jeremiah 16:16 "But now I will send for many fishermen," declares the LORD, "and they will catch them."
Again in Ezekiel 47:10 Fishermen will stand along the shore;....The fish will be of many kinds like the sand of the Great Sea.
Second: CHURCH GROW.
- A shepherd is usually given an existing flock and maintains that flock in good fashion.
- A fisherman, by nature, is more aggressive than a shepherd. He must go out to catch new fish every day.
The new church must grow and grow fast. Fishermen could best perform that job description. Peter, James and John were all fishermen and they were the closest to Jesus of the 12. Fishermen must work in all kinds of weather or they will starve. The fisherman who avoids rainy days or stays at home when the forecast is borderline will soon be bankrupt. This enterprising nature of the fisherman was needed to accelerate the growth of the Christian Church.
Thirdly: INVOLVEMENT. I think Jesus chose fishermen because God needs many fishers and few shepherds. In the Christian church every member, like the disciples, is called to be a fisherman. Matthew 4:18, 19.
As Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and his brother, Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishers. "Come and follow Me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men.
Every Christian sould be an evangelist. We are to be fishers of men, a missionary fishing for unsaved men and women, unsaved boys and girls. Jesus wants us to be involved. Not everyone can be a shepherd but everybody can be a fisherman. Peter was a fisherman first and only later did Jesus tell him he could be a shepherd. We should never cease to be a fisherman.
"Too many Christians are no longer fishers of men but keepers of the aquarium." (Paul Harvey). Our job is not to be aquarium keepers, but to go and fish for men. Our church must never forget its mission. Our mission is fishing for men. It is not a special activity for special people at special occasions but the normal activity of every Christian every day.
Fourth: FELLOWSHIP INSTEAD OF FASTINGSHIP
Shepherds often live in isolation but fishermen are not hermits. They are social people and mingle with people. It takes a team of spirited strong men to catch fish with large nets. If he does not learn to work with others he will not be successful. The successful fisherman must deal with boatmen, he must compete with many others in the fish market. He is not a loner. Jesus never upheld before us the life of the monasticism. We are not called to be secluded from the world but to go into the world.
Look at Matthew 28:19,20:... Jesus will go with you. You’ll not be alone. Fellowship is Jesus’ way. That former Monk Martin Luther said: "More and greater sins are committed when men are alone than when they keep themselves in fellowship." Only when Adam and Eve were alone, away from God, could Satan deceive her. Only when King David was alone and idle did he fall into adultery.