From Issue: Discovery 2/1/2014

Many people fish for the fun of it. They get away on vacation and fish in lakes and rivers. They rent charter boats and spend the day deep-sea fishing. They use poles, reels, fishing line, and hooks, and they hope to snag a big trout or salmon, take pictures of them, or tell their friends about “the big one that got away.”

Other people around the world, however, fish for their living. That is, for them, fishing is their profession. They fish to live and live to fish.

Fishermen have been around for thousands of years. The Israelites fished when they were slaves in Egypt (Numbers 11:5). There were fishermen in Isaiah’s day (19:8). And you probably recall that some of Jesus’ apostles were professional fishermen. This profession was not an easy one (and still isn’t). Recall that one time Peter told Jesus that he and his fellow fishermen had “toiled all night and caught nothing” (Luke 5:5). (And this occasion was not the only time Peter came up empty handed after a night’s work—John 21:2-3.)

Although the apostles of Christ were familiar with the style of fishing involving a line and hook (as is evident by Jesus telling Peter to “go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first”—Matthew 17:27), it seems they mostly used nets in their work. When Jesus called Peter and Andrew to follow Him, they were in the middle of “casting a net into the sea” (Matthew 4:18), while James and John were in a boat with their father “mending their nets” (4:21). Some nets were smaller (about 15 feet in diameter) and could be used by just one or two fishermen. Other nets, such as dragnets, might be 100 or more feet long and take several fishermen and at least two boats to operate.

As important as the profession of fishing was to Peter, Andrew, James, and John, when the Lord called them to become fishers of men, “they immediately left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:20). May God help all Christians today, regardless of their professions, to remember to put the Lord first in their lives (Matthew 6:33) and follow Him wherever He leads.


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