Episode 1. Calling Fishermen
Listen to the radio broadcast
Download audio file
You can tell a lot about a person, by looking at the people they surround themselves with. So – who did Jesus surround Himself with – and what does it tell us about Him? Join Berni Dymet as he …
You can tell a lot about a person, by looking at the people they surround themselves with. So that begs the question. who did Jesus surround Himself with – and what does it tell us about Him?
I was thinking about the whole Easter thing, how to approach it this year, and well, I was wondering whether together we couldn’t start a little bit early this year. Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs aside, it seems to me that the central question of Easter is who is Jesus? Exactly who is He? What’s He like? If he were to walk into my life or your life right now, what would he be like?
It’s so easy to take someone who lived two thousand years ago and turn him into a stain glass window. But if He’s going to be relevant, if He’s going to make a difference, well what’s He like? That’s a good question.
One of the things I love to do on Saturday mornings is to drive down to our local fish market, it’s just a few minutes drive from where I live. Early in the morning it’s pretty quiet, later on there’s a real bustle, lots of people and crowds and stuff. You go into the fish market, early in the morning and the fish mongers are getting their catch ready to put out there, and there’s this huge array of fish and oysters and muscles and shell fish to choose from.
Sometimes you look at it all and think, where does all of that come from? How do they get all of that variety every day here for me to come and purchase? And at Christmas time! I mean there are prawns and shrimps by the truck load. It’s kind of amazing to me the abundance of the ocean, and this is a commerce of food and flavour and experience. But it started out on a boat on the water, probably in the middle of last night when a crew was on the water doing what they do every night – fishing for fish.
And I walk into the seafood market, there are lots of different store holders, it’s massive, and just on the left there’s a man, it’s always the same man who’s shelling oysters. He’s an older man, probably Greek is my hunch, with big hairy arms and he’s these big thick gloves on and piles of unshelled oysters and one by one he breaks the shells open with the oyster knife.
I love fish, I love the bustle of the fish market and the people and the characters and the feel and the buzz and the sound and the smell, I love it. But here’s a question, if you or I were God and we’re thinking, “well I’ve got this great idea, I want to start a new fledgling thing called a church. I want it to last a few thousand years, I don’t expect it to be perfect, but I want it to be strong and last and survive and I need to find some good people”. Would we start at the fish market? Would we go down to the fish market, to that guy with the big hairy arms and the big rubber gloves and say, “listen I got a plan for your life?”
Jesus was a carpenter and he began his public ministry around about in his late twenties or early thirties, we’re not exactly sure. So for the first thirty years of his life He’s working in Dad’s carpenter shop making chairs, helping to build houses, making coffins, you know that sort of stuff. And them it’s time, it’s time for his public ministry to begin. That public ministry lasted for about three and half years or so.
He’s not a king, he’s not wealthy, he’s not a power broker. He’s not one of the recognised religions leaders with the fine robes and positions and money and people kowtowing to them, no he’s just a carpenter. And one day he’s walking down along the Sea of Galilee.
It’s a beautiful morning, he’s walking along, you can just hear his sandals crunching on the gravel as he walks down by the shore early in the morning. The fishermen have all come in, they’re cleaning their nets and cleaning their boats and emptying their catches and taking them to market. It’s a bit like the mornings when I go to the fish markets you know the commerce is just happening and just starting to tick over.
And he walks along and he sees Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. And they’re cleaning their nets and he says to them, “follow me!” There’s whole story here where they were trying to throw out their nets and they weren’t catching any fish and Jesus said, “Look, throw out your net on the other side.” And sure enough they caught all these fish and they were amazed and Jesus said to them, “Yeah, but I’m going to make you fishers of people, you’re going people fishing.”
And then they walk along a little bit further and he sees James and John and they’re mending their nets and he calls them, and he says, “Look, leave your Dad Zebedee and follow me, I gotta plan for you life.” Would you and I have started down at the fish market like Jesus did? Would we have started down by the water amongst the fishermen? The noise, the smell, the commerce, just an everyday occurrence.
There are a few things that really grab me about this story. The first one is that it was Galilee. Galilee was like the pits of Israel, the classy people, the erudite educated people, the religious people, the leaders, they all lived in Jerusalem. That was the political centre, the religious centre.
Up here north, they weren’t real Jews they were scum of the earth type stuff, they were looked down on. Jesus went to Galilee to find these disciples. And he was a carpenter, as I said, chairs, coffins, houses, calling fishermen to become fishers of people. Bit strange! Maybe if you or I were God we probably wouldn’t have done it this way.
My hunch is that we would have gone to the best Bible College in Jerusalem and gone and picked the best scholars and said, “I’ll make them the leaders; I’ll make them the disciples of the Son of God.” And here’s the other thing, He called them! He’s a rabbi, he’s a teacher and normally what happened is if you wanted to study under a Rabbi you’d have to go to the Rabbi. And the better the Rabbi and the better the Rabbi’s reputation, the harder it was to get a gig with him studying, you had to go to him. It’s like I want to go and study at University, I have to go and apply, they don’t come to me; they don’t ring me up and say, “Berni will you come and study with us.”
But Jesus went out and picked people. He tapped these nobodies on the shoulder and said, “Come and follow me.” And then finally they’re fishermen, they’re not theologians, they’re not elite businessmen, they’re fishermen, uneducated, rough, tough, hard life, they’re about boats and nets and fish and storms and stench. It was a morning like any other, Jesus’ out walking by the Sea of Galilee and He knows deep in His heart he’s the Son of God.
He’s come for a purpose, the last thirty years He’s been growing and waiting and learning. He’s walking along the beach, He’s looking at the beauty but there’s this calling beating in his heart. He looks out over the water, there’s a tear in his eyes, there’s excitement, there’s trepidation, His time has come. This carpenter from Galilee, all of the earthly odds are stacked against him to make a difference in anyone’s life. And He calls four rough, uneducated, bumpkins. Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John. We might have called them Pete, Andy, Jim, Jono.
That does something for me. That’s here and now. This is not stain glass window stuff, this is not religious stuff. It so, for me rings a bell, it’s like me wandering down the fish market thinking, “man would Jesus have come here if he was looking for disciples today?” It’s real it’s alive it’s relevant, it’s here and now.
Jesus still has a purpose today; Jesus still wants to find fishers of people today and instead of the Sea of Galilee, what if he walks into that fish market, or a hairdressing salon, or the office building or the shopping centre or the factory with that same dream burning in his heart, looking for a Pete or an Andy or a Jim or a Jono or a Sue or Melissa or Jenny or a Helen, or a David or a Paul or … what if he’s looking for someone?