If you were choosing men to turn the world upside down, who would you pick? What vocation would you draw from?
I might pick lawyers (they know how to press a point), political activists (they engage fully), writers (their pens triumph even the sword), investors (they understand that large undertakings require capital), or CEOs (they get the need for oversight and administration).
But Jesus chose fishermen.
He picked men from one of the most common occupations of the Galilean region and deputized them as the movers and shakers of Christianity.
Not only did He choose these men, but He basically kept their title. Fishermen became Fishers of Men.
Think about it: He could have transformed fishermen into lawyers. He could have said, “You used to be common men with a common occupation, but I am going to make you powerful men with prestigious credentials.”
But He didn’t. He chose fishermen, and He made no attempt to sophisticate their work.
Why fishermen? What qualities do they posses that Christ wanted them to invest in fishing for men?
They Are Courageous and Daring
First century fishermen regularly put their lives on the line. The storms the disciples faced with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee were undoubtedly not the only storms they had encountered. This lake is known for its violent storms that literally threaten lives. These men knew what it was to rub shoulders with danger, and—for the sake of their occupation—they dared to do it again and again.
They Have Patience and Determination
How many times do you think Peter, James, and John fished all night and came up with empty nets? Two such nights are recorded in the Bible, but I’m guessing there were more. Impatient or easily bored fishermen don’t tend to make a success of the occupation.
They Know How to Employ Teamwork
Commercial fishing in the first century was not an occupation for loners. Peter and Andrew had James and John as partners. The teamwork they employed is referenced in both of the Gospel accounts of the disciples out fishing.
They Exercise Faith
In many ways, this last trait is a culmination of the above. The fishermen who Jesus called as disciples believed that their courageous daring and determined patience exercised with others would sustain a livelihood. Why else would they purchase boats and nets? And why else would they wash their empty nets to be used again the next day?
It was these qualities—common qualities for men of a common occupation—that Jesus harnessed and redirected. When you think of it, fishers of men need the same traits.
Courage and Daring
And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,—Acts 4:29
Patience and Determination
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.—Galatians 6:9
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;—Philippians 1:27
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.—Hebrews 11:6
Only the Holy Spirit can fully develop these qualities in His fishers of men. But we can recognize our need for them and, through His power, exercise them each time we obey His Word and launch out by faith.