What occupational hazards did Christ’s disciples face fishing? Why did it matter how fisherman caught their fish? How do these things relate to us today?
If a fisherman didn’t know what was most effective for catching fish, he’d starve. If he didn’t act wisely, he’d drown. If he couldn’t trust God to take care of him, he’d worry himself sick. From Daily Life at the Time of Jesus,
The trammel net was actually three nets in one: two large mesh walls about five feet high, in between…a net of finer mesh. It would then be slowly pulled around by the boat into a circle, a kind of open ended barrel…fish caught…attempt to escape by pushing against the larger…net…entrapped in the finer mesh…jumping fish, like the St. Peter’s Fish (tilapia), could be caught by attaching a collar-like net on a reed frame around the top of the “barrel.” Each evening before the night’s fishing began, and after every throw of the net, the fisherman extricated each fish from within the mesh, cleaning and mending…(Matthew 4:21…Luke 5:1-7)
But what if the wind and waves ruined their chance to make this trammel, barrel-net stay open?
The dragnet was operated by two teams. One team took the net, which was like a wall some 100 feet long and 12 feet high and attached by ropes at each end. The bottom side…was weighted by sinkers…the warm springs of Tabgha on the north shore must have been a favorite of the disciples. One team alighted, holding one side of the net with thick ropes. The boat sailed out with the rest of the crew until the net stretched and then circled back to shore…allowed the net to become fully spread. Then the other team took out the other rope. Both teams…dragged it to shore. The dragnet was the longest and heaviest net…required a larger boat to maneuver it into place…Matthew 13:47-48
And what if they didn’t have a second team or larger boat to work with?
Mark 1:16…When Jesus encountered Simon and Andrew, they were probably using the cast net, a circular net about 20 feet in diameter with weights attached to the bottom edge. The cast net could be thrown either from a boat or from the shoreline…folded…in a manner that would allow it to open completely when it landed in the water and then descend like a parachute, trapping fish beneath it. To retrieve…the fisherman would dive into the water and pull the bottom of the net together carefully.
But what about the weather and dangers of fishing in Galilee? In one of my pictures under “Northern Galilee,” I explained the reasons Galilee can be so dangerous. I also mentioned the flat-bottomed boats they used because they were easier to drag up onto the shore. In 1986 an ancient boat from Jesus’ time was discovered and preserved, called “the Jesus boat” because of the era it dates back to. It was also flat-bottomed, which means it would tip with every wave. Modern boats have ballasts to make them much more stable. This made ancient fishing, especially on Galilee, more dangerous than mining probably was before unions improved their safety.
So when Jesus stilled the storm and walked on the water, it wasn’t the first or second time these seasoned fishermen were scared. This was an occupational hazard that obsessed them all their lives. It required not just survival of the fittest, but supernatural guidance and protection. Yet Jesus took care of it with just 3 words. Or with just stepping into the boat.
Did you ever think of the disciples while reading Psalm 107:23-32? Did you ever read Matthew 6:25-34 considering any occupational hazards in your own life? God wants us to be worry-free, and anything less is sinful. Commit it to the Lord in prayer. Trusting Him offers such sweet peace in the midst of the storm.
The above picture is from Daily Life at the Time of Jesus