Fishers of Men

Scripture: Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:14-20, Luke 5:1-11 and 27-32 and John 1:35-5140

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn how Jesus called his first apostles.
  • Students will learn how fisherman performed their duties in the first century.

Guiding Questions:

  • How did Jesus call His first disciples?
  • Why was it significant that Peter, Andrew, James and John were fisherman?

Materials: a stocked lake or a small pool with fake fish, costumes for actors to be first century fisherman, fishing nets. “See Jesus Calls the Apostles Survival Lesson Plan” for ideas to make your own.

Procedure: Choose a guide or one of the fisherman to review the story of Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him. Introduce the children to the fisherman. Point out the disciples who were brothers. Focus on the part of the story where Jesus told them to cast their net. They successfully caught a huge net full after a night of no success. Emphasize that fisherman were not the type of men typically called by a rabbi because they would not have had as much religious education. Explain that Israelites enjoyed fish to supplement their diet of nuts and fruit especially since there were many meats they were not permitted to eat such as pork.

Show students the nets and how they would have been used. Show students how to cast a net and let them try. Steps can be found at the fish4fun website.

With net straightened and lying between your feet, fasten the tag end of the retrieved rope to the right wrist. Then coil the rope in small coils and hold them in your right hand. Place the throat of the net on top of the rope coils in your right hand. Then slide your left hand about a third of the way down the net.

Coil the length of the net you just measured and place it in your right hand. Now slide your left hand down the net to crotch level. Make a coil of this second length of net and also place it in your right hand. You should now have two roughly equal coils of net in your right hand and about two-and-a-half feet of net left dangling .

Kneel on your right knee and place your left foot forward. Pull one loop of the lead line from the rear of your bundle and lay that loop across your right elbow as far as it will go without pulling in your right hand.

Starting at your right elbow, go clockwise around the lead line for approximately four feet. Now lay that lead line over your left thigh. Continue in a clockwise manner and lay the net across your left thigh until you have approximately half of the remaining net and lead line draped across your left thigh. You should now be supporting half of the lead sinkers with your left leg and the other half with your right hand.

With the net divided into roughly halves, put the pinkie finger of your left hand through the net mesh of the first lead line that you laid over your left thigh. The proper location is through the bottom mesh (next to the lead line) right on top of your left thigh.

This is the way your left hand grips the net. The pinkie finger is through the mesh at the lead line and the third finger lays by the pinkie as a sort of guard. The mesh of the net is held between the thumb and first two fingers and rests against the top of the third and pinkie fingers.

This is what the net looks like when you are holding it properly and are prepared to throw it. The small loops of the line and two loops of the net are held in the right hand. The retrieval line is tied around the right wrist. One loop of lead line lies across the wrist. One loop of lead line lies across the right elbow. Approximately half of the lead line is supported by the right hand and is hanging about two and a half feet below the right hand. The balance of the net and lead line is held in the left hand and in the grip described in Illustration 6. The lead line is hanging about a foot to a foot and a half down from the left hand. Note that there is no call for lead line held in the mouth or for draping wet net across your shoulder.

The windup is the first part of the throw. Ideally the left foot is forward and pointed about 45 degrees to the right of where you intend to throw. The right foot is behind the left at just over the shoulder width distance, and is roughly parallel. Rotate your arms back to the right and shift your weight to your right foot. As you spin back forward your weight will shift back to your left foot. The throw is more of a slinging motion in which both arms naturally extend to aim the net. The release is just to let go with your hands. The net will naturally peel off your right elbow and off your left pinkie finger. Experience and practice will help perfect your aim.

With a little practice you can have results like this, also. This is a truly easy method of throwing the big cast nets. It is an easy method that uses gravity and centrifugal force to open the net. A caution is that this method does not work on smaller nets. It overpowers the smaller nets due to their lack of weight. An excellent way to practice, without getting wet, is to throw the net in your back yard. Grass is an excellent cushion and allows you to see how the net opened. You can practice from ground level or you can use a pickup tailgate to give you some elevation. An old tire makes an excellent target for improving your aim. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Additional Questions:

  • What does it mean to be fishers of men?
  • How do you respond when God calls you to do something to serve him?
  • In what ways would some people have considered it strange that Jesus called fisherman? What do you think people would have thought of the apostles’ immediate decision to follow Jesus?

Supplemental Activity: Explain that being fishers of men means that we do not keep Christ’s love and our faith to ourselves. We must find ways of sharing it with others. Students can make baked goods to give to friends and neighbors and attach a personal card and Bible verse. Have students look up verses that would be encouraging for people to hear even if they were not already Christians. Some suggestions: John 3:16, 1 John 4:16, John 14:27, John 16:33. Discuss what makes some stories and verses better than others when speaking with nonbelievers/believers that do not attend church. How would nonbelievers interpret scripture differently than people who have Biblical background?

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