Harmony of the Gospels

 Harmony of the Gospels

-AD 27-
Sea of Galilee
(4) Four Become Fishers of Men
(Psalms 33:9) Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20, Luke 5:1-11


This is the record of Jesus’ call to four of His disciples; Peter, Andrew, James and John.



And Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two bretheren, 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. (Matthew 4:18-19)

Jesus had three meetings with these men.  He met with them the first time in Jerusalem.  See [1]John 1:35-42.  He did not call them at that time.  This is the record of the second meeting, and this time, He asks them to “follow Him”.  They go with Him briefly at this time and then return to fishing.  Mark and Luke provide more details of this meeting, than Matthew does.  The third time that He calls them, it is to apostleship.  That meeting is recorded in Luke 5:1-11.  At that time, they leave their nets and follow Him as His apostles.

It is very comforting for me to know that He uses simple men like these.  They were not super-duper saints and that gives me hope that He may even be able to use a person like me.  The important thing is for us to give ourselves to Him.  The body of Christ has many members, and their gifts vary; but all are important to Him.

And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.  And going on from thence, he saw two bretheren, 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 4:20-22)

These are interesting men, and we will learn more about them as we proceed with our study.


[1](John 1:35-42; GW) "The next day John was standing with two of his disciples. John saw Jesus walk by. John said, “Look! This is the Lamb of God.” When the two disciples heard John say this, they followed Jesus. Jesus turned around and saw them following him. He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which means “teacher”), “where are you staying? Jesus told them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went to see where he was staying and spent the rest of that day with him. It was about ten o'clock in the morning.  Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two disciples who heard John and followed Jesus.  Andrew at once found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at Simon and said, “You are Simon, son of John. Your name will be Cephas” (which means “Peter”). ________________________________________________________________________________



Now as he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.  And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.  And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were in the ship tending their nets.  And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.  (Mark 1:16-20)

This is the beginning of His ministry.  He was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  There He finds Simon, Andrew, James and John going about their business of fishing.  The meeting is no coincidence, because He had met these men before in Jerusalem.  I believe that He marked them at that time for His disciples, even though He did not call them.  This time though, He called them to discipleship.  They dropped everything and followed Him, but as we will learn in Luke 5:1-11, they returned to fishing.



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 in to 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. (Luke 5:1-3)

Lake Gennesaret is just another name given to the Sea of Galilee.  The fishermen that were there had left their boats and were busy washing their nets.  Jesus asked one of the fishermen, Simon, to push his boat out into the water, so that He could use it as a platform, from which He could preach.  What a pulpit!  Every pulpit should be used to fish for men by preaching the word of God.  But remember you don’t catch fish every time you go fishing; and the disciples didn’t either.  Even though you don’t always catch fish, remember that the greatest experience in life is to fish for the souls of men.

Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a drought.  (Luke 5:4)

After Jesus finished speaking to the people, He said to Simon, “Let’s go fishing for fish.”  Later they would fish for men, but now they are going to fish for fish.

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. (Luke 5:5)

From Simon’s reply, the indication is that he put up an argument.  After all, they had fished all night and had not caught a thing, and they were experienced fishermen.  Should they take advice from a teacher or Rabbi?

God speaks to us through His word.  I can’t think of any other place that I can go to hear Him.  Peter didn’t understand what Jesus was going to do and he even disagreed with him, but he did what He asked Him to do.  We should also do what He tells us to do in His word.  If you will read the Bible, He will speak to you through the words that are on its pages.  Go to His word at every opportunity and listen to Him and do what He tells you.  God will bless you through His word.

And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. (Luke 5:6)

He is teaching these men a lesson.  They must follow His instructions, to catch fish.  Fishing is an art.  You must go to where the fish are at, use the right bait and be patient.  If you want to win men for Him, you must follow His instructions.  He told us to go out into the world and preach the Gospel to everyone.  Our job is to fish.  The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

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. (Luke 5:7-8)

When Peter saw the tremendous catch of fish he recognized his lack of faith.  He is not even a good fisher of fish.  He is a failure.  His confession, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord”, shows that he realizes that he should not have returned to fishing.  His failures and faithlessness are evident.  He is ready to give up, but Jesus will not give up on him.  When we are willing to depend on Him, He will use us.

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.  (Luke 5:9-10)

Simon Peter did become a great fisher of men.  After Jesus’ death, on the Day of Pentecost, he preached the first great sermon of the New Testament and caught 3000 men.  He was fishing like Jesus had taught him.

And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him. (Luke 5:11)

They had a lot to learn, and there would be failures, but from this point on they followed Him.

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