March Devotion

Fishermen

I’m always intrigued by the decision Jesus made when He assembled that first team of apostles who would carry this new message of salvation by grace through faith. To think of this in modern terms one could figure on the kind of team we might put together to “advertise” a message with such profound implications.

A physician, a lawyer, maybe a professor, a sports hero or a Hollywood actor... these are the kinds of folks we might choose to spread our message. So whom did Jesus pick? Fishermen! Smelly, coarse talking, uneducated, fishermen! So one must ask the question, what did Jesus see in these fishermen that prompted Him to place His message and even His reputation in their hands? Well, let’s look at what a fisherman does and see if we can discover at least partially what Jesus saw in them.

To begin with, a fisherman had to lay out a substantial capital investment. A ship, nets and a crew... all together I’m sure this represented a fair portion of a fisherman’s worldly possessions. And remember during Jesus’ time there was no insurance to protect the investment in case of loss. And here I think it’s important to talk a bit about sailing onto the sea in 1st Century Galilee.

When Jonah fell into the sea and was swallowed by a great fish, it is recorded he cried out from the belly of Sheol. (Jonah 2:2 ESV) Other translations say “from the land of the dead” or “from the realm of the dead.” So in the mind of the first century Galilean, going down in the depths of the sea was akin to going down to Sheol or Hell. So not only is there the chance of not catching fish on any given day, a crew flirts with the possibility of landing in Hell each time they venture out onto the waves.

So for a person to make such a large capital investment with the fear of literally going to Hell simply for a chance to catch some fish requires the very thing Jesus was seeking in His apostles: that is faith. He needed followers with faith. Not a lawyer or professor who might debate the finer points in this plan of salvation. He didn’t need a physician who doubted the possibility of making the lame walk, the blind see, and the dead rise. He didn’t want a movie star or famous athlete who would detract from the message and focus more attention on their own accomplishments. No, Jesus needed people of faith. The kind of faith a child has in their father and the kind of faith that allows a man to step out of a boat, flirting with Hell itself, and walk on the waves toward his LORD.