<< Matthew IV, Luke V: Called to be Disciples >>
THE Sea of Galilee is a beautiful mountain lake of clear, blue water, lying deep among the hills. The hills rise steeply from the water along both shores, but at the northwestern part of the sea they stand back from the beach, leaving a crescent-shaped meadow about a mile in width. This is the plain of Gennesaret. Many things which are told in the Gospels took place in this plain and by this shore. In the old time it was a very fruitful meadow; the soil is good and it was watered by several large springs. The hills about keep off the cold wind, and the gardens of Gennesaret were famous for early fruits. Several cities stood near the shore. Capernaum was probably in the northern corner of the plain, where the Fig Spring breaks out from under a cliff. Near the southern corner of the plain was Magdala, and several little towns between.
The plain of Gennesaret was a busy place, Besides the farmers working in the fields, many traders were passing with caravans of camels, carrying goods from Damascus over to the Mediterranean shore; and in these towns lived many fishermen who supplied fish from the lake to the markets of Jerusalem and other towns. Sometimes they fished from the shore, as we see Eastern fishermen to-day, skilfully throwing a net so that it falls in a circle on the water, then diving in and gathering the net together; or they fastened one end of a large net to the shore, and carried the other end out into the lake, encircling as many fishes as they could. Sometimes they fished from boats, of which there are still a few on the Sea of Galilee. They are stout boats some twenty-five feet long, with pointed ends, a little deck in the bow and stern, a three-cornered sail and heavy oars. The white sails are very pretty on the blue lake.
The Lord had come from Nazareth to make His home at Capernaum, in this busy plain by the shore of this beautiful lake. He walked along the shore where the beach of shells and pebbles divides the clear water from the meadows. Behind Him were the grain fields sheltered by the pasture-hills; before Him was the blue water stretching away some six
miles to the purple eastern shore. And as He walked lie culled some fishermen from their nets, to go with Him and be His faithful disciples.
In one Gospel we read:
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.---Matthew IV. 17-22.
The fishermen knew the voice that called. Some of them had seen the Lord at the Jordan and had heard John's words, "Behold the Lamb of God." Another Gospel tells us also of a sign of His great power which the Lord gave to the fishermen as He called them.
And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.---Luke V. 1-11.
Another man whom the Lord called to be a disciple was Matthew, or Levi, who afterwards wrote the story of the Lord's life that bears his name. He was a publican, a collector of taxes, perhaps of duties upon goods brought into the country from beyond the Jordan. The people hated the publicans, but the Lord found many among them who were glad to hear Him.
And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.---Luke V. 27-32
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
The sea >> The atmosphere of natural thoughts and interests
Fishes >> Affections for natural things, natural knowledge
Spiritual fisherman >> One who loves to see in natural knowledge Divine and heavenly meaning, and who uses every natural experience in a way to contribute to heavenly life
Fishers of men >> One who works to lift men up from a merely natural life to a realization of heavenly use and blessing
First ship, Peter and his brother Andrew >> Faith in the Lord and obedience to what is right >> Understanding
Second ship, John and his brother James >> Deepest love for the Lord and love for the neighbor >> Will
Toiled all the night, and have taken nothing >> Nothing can be obtained in a state of self-love and self-intelligence because the Lord is the source of all Good
Follow me >> To acknowledge the Lord, and to live according to His precepts
Pictures: James Tissot ----Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum