22 – Jesus Calls Disciples

When: Third week of May, 28 AD
Where: Capernaum, Galilee
Mark, Matthew, Luke,


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On Wednesday May 19, Jesus arrived in Capernaum from Nazareth. Capernaum (village of Nahum), which was located on the north/western shore of the Sea of Galilee, had been upgraded to a town by the Roman influence. It was over a mile long, and a fifth of a mile wide, and was home to about 2,000 people. It was situated beside a major branch of the “Way of the Sea” highway. It had a “customs post” and a Roman military detachment. It was also the largest Jewish town on the “Sea of Galilee”. They had a beautiful black basalt synagogue [similar to the one at Chorizin], which was two stories tall and 65 feet long, with a pillared hall, and with a side hall for the women.

The “Sea of Galilee” is actually a lake 11 miles from north to south, and 7 miles from west to east. In the time of Moses (1200 BC), the name of the lake was Chinnereth (which means “harp“, and may have referred to it’s shape). With the division of Canaan under Joshua, this area was part of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. The Gentiles (non-Jews) had called the plains “Galilee” from as far back as 700 BC, and the body of water was called the Sea of Galilee. By 150 BC, the time of the Maccabee revolt, the Jews named it “Gennesaret” after a town on the northwest shore, and gave the name to the plains near the town. By 25 AD a new capitol city had been built on the western shore of the lake, and was named after the Roman Emperor Tiberias. Thus the lake was also called the Sea of Tiberias.

Thursday morning, May 20, Jesus began to teach the good news of the kingdom to the people of Capernaum. By late morning he walked westward along the shore. About a half mile from Capernaum he saw some fishing boats pulled into a cove. Since the crowd had followed Jesus, he decided to sit and teach them some more. He also got the idea to sit on a boat while the people were gathered on shore.

Simon, and his brother Andrew owned one boat, and their partners James, and his brother John, worked from another boat that was actually owned by their father Zebedee.

They had been out all night fishing, using torches to attract the fish. The light draws the fish, you throw out the net, the weights sink the edges, you draw the sinking edges in, you pull in the net, and you sort the fish. This was often quite productive. But last night had been poor. They had cast repeatedly and had caught virtually nothing. Now they were cleaning, repairing, drying, and refolding their nets.

Jesus knew these men. Andrew had been a follower of the Baptist and had introduced Simon to Jesus. Both had talked often about Jesus to James and John, their partners and friends. They knew something of his teaching and had heard of some of the “signs” that Jesus had done.

This morning Jesus asked Simon if he might sit on his boat to teach, so that everyone might see and hear. Simon agreed. Simon moved the boat [model] into position just off shore and then went back to work.

When Jesus had finished teaching and had dismissed the crowd to get lunch, Jesus suggested to Simon (who was already done repacking for tonight’s fishing) to go fishing NOW. This was not really a good time to fish. With a bright hot sun the fish would be deep.

Simon was frustrated and tired (and looking forward to an afternoon nap) and was not happy with the idea, and he said so. But this was Jesus. A Rabbi. Andrew believed that Jesus could be the Messiah. All the rumors indicated that he spoke with the authority and power of God, so Simon agreed to go fishing, even “knowing” that it was a waste of time and effort. He took the boat, the crew, and Jesus out onto the lake (almost due south to deeper waters), set the nets, letting them sink deep, and then began to draw them in.

Surprise! There were fish. Too many fish! So many fish that the nets were beginning to break from the weight. Simon and Andrew called for James and John to hurry out to help. After a while both boats were filled beyond capacity, and still there were more fish. Even these two sturdy boats began to ride low from the weight. Finally they let the rest of the fish go and began to row back to shore.

With the emergency over and the catch in the boats, Simon suddenly realized for himself that Jesus really did speak with the authority of God. Fearing the unknown, and knowing that he had doubts, he begged Jesus to leave. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Follow me. From now on, you will be fishing for men as Jeremiah prophesied’. Jesus had formally called Simon to be a disciple. Simon and Andrew both decided to follow Jesus as full time disciples.

Once they got back to the docks of Capernaum, and arranged for the sale of the fish, Jesus went over to where James and John were mending their nets and spoke with them. He formally called them to be disciples. They also agreed to be full time disciples. Peter, Andrew, James and John had now given up their old lives, as Philip and Nathaniel had already done, to spend all their time in the service of God. Now the light of God would shine for the Gentiles as Isaiah prophesied.


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